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Hamas attacks and Harvard: University’s determination to go full woke leads to moral bankruptcy

Editor’s note: The following column was first published in City Journal. 

Harvard finds itself in an ideological bind. Following Hamas’s horrific terror attack against Israel, the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee issued a statement, co-signed by 33 other student groups, blaming the Jewish state for the murder, rape, and mutilation of its own citizens by Hamas. “Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,” the statement read. “The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

The reaction was swift. The media, the public, and prominent political figures condemned the students for rationalizing atrocities against innocent people, including women, children, and the elderly. Harvard’s administration, long accustomed to toeing the radical line, hesitated for days before releasing a generic statement of condemnation and writing that “no student group—not even 30 student groups—speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”

Meantime, former Harvard president Lawrence Summers expressed surprise, wondering on social media why the university could not “find anything approaching the moral clarity of Harvard statements after George Floyd’s death or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

For the radical academics, the process is less brutal but barbaric all the same: it means destroying our best institutions, obliterating academic standards, and elevating witchcraft, voodoo, and pseudo-science into positions of prestige. The philosopher Leo Strauss once defined nihilism as opposition to civilization as such—and this is precisely what the decolonizing academics have done, acting out their vengeful fantasies to “abolish” Harvard, once a crowning symbol of Western civilization.

Americans need to understand that the massacre in Gaza is not only a foreign outrage. The same ethno-radicals who cheer Hamas’s destruction of civilization abroad also want to commit civilizational suicide here at home.

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Christopher F. Rufo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Sign up for his Substack here.

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