Something is rotten in Oberlin

I am convinced that if the Jewish community in particular spent as much time on protecting their own students as they do on other causes, this would not be tolerated.

A protest at Oberlin college (archive) (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A protest at Oberlin college (archive)
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
OHIO – or as it has been called, “The Heart of it All” – is the state that candidates flock to, since it is representative of Middle America. With its tree-lined streets and football fanatics, Ohio is truly reflective of what is going on in the rest of the country.
Oberlin College is an expensive little liberal arts college in Northwestern Ohio. It has been rated as number 23 on the list of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. It is known as a bastion of liberal and progressive thought. It costs over $52,000 dollars a year to attend. Since I have two kids in college, and three more in line, I am keenly aware of these costs.
So what are our kids getting for this “education?” Professors (not just in Oberlin) who say things like the following: “Jews are responsible for the Charlie Hebdo massacre”; “ISIS is a CIA Mossad operation”; “Jews were behind the 911 attacks”; “The Rothschilds [Jewish banking family in Europe] control all the banks, and the media,” yada, yada, yada.
These particular comments were made on Joy Karega’s Facebook page.
She is an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at Oberlin College.
Aside from this obviously charming teacher of rhetoric, our Jewish children are also being harassed for being pro-Israel at Oberlin. Students who wanted to celebrate Rosh Hashana last year had to pass through a gauntlet of screaming anti-Israel students. Comments by, for example, SFP or Students for Justice in Palestine have posted such charming statements as “Ohio is ‘infested’ with Zionism” on their website. This makes for an extremely hostile environment on the Oberlin campus for Jewish and Pro-Israel students.
It gets better. After several teachers argued against the BDS movement, Jewish students, yes, Jewish student leaders, pushed back saying that they wanted to have a “nuanced” discussion on Israel. One was a leader of J Street, the supposedly pro-Israel group, and the other two were Hillel, and Oberlin Zionists. Whenever one hear the words “nuanced” from someone on the Left you can bet you are about to be called an idiot. Issues can have nuanced positions, however harassment, threats and bullying toward students whose only crime is to support the one and only Jewish state cannot have nuance.
The students said that as progressives, their viewpoints were being pushed aside, dismissed as it were.
Progressives pushed aside at Oberlin, yeah, right. A nickname for Oberlin is “Red” Oberlin; my own is “Marxists on the Maumee” (a nearby river).
If this were an isolated incident it would have been shocking enough, but another Ohio college has a professor who is being investigated for Islamic State (ISIS) ties. The hint was when he stood up and shouted “death to Israel” at a rally. Nobody said or did anything about it. It was only after he allegedly tried to recruit kids into ISIS that anyone paid attention. I am assuming that his students were promised extra credit, such as 72 virgins.
Now for the punch line: the president of the college, who is himself Jewish, says that “free speech should flourish.” He claims that he is a practicing Orthodox Jew who had some of his family murdered in the Holocaust.
This is the same school whose recent big issue was that students complained about the Chinese food being “culturally appropriative.” In short they were upset that General Tso’s chicken was not authentic because it was steamed, not fried.
In an academic environment where “micro aggressions” and politically correct dissection of language is a daily cause célèbre, why is it okay to let Jew- and Israel-hatred flourish? Does, vitriolic, anti-Semitic hate speech at Oberlin rise to the same level as bad General Tso’s chicken? So if you want to get a peek into the future of our leadership look at college students and their professors today. It is bone chilling. This is part of a growing trend of harassment, purely outand- out anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Israel rhetoric. Most importantly, it also clearly shows the passivity of the Jewish community.
I don’t see our rabbis or our organized Jewish community standing up and protesting this. Okay, some of them do, but let’s be frank: if it was called Muslim harassment, Islamophobia or racial injustice, or even the latest, Trumpism, they would be screaming.
When it comes to our own people...crickets. Nothing, nada, silence.
I am convinced that if the Jewish community in particular spent as much time on protecting their own students as they do on other causes, this would not be tolerated.
The Jewish president of the college gave Karega a pass. The board president, Clyde Macgregor, who is not Jewish, just came out in condemnation of her. Perhaps the president who deals in theory has a different set of interests than the board that deals with reality? Alumni contributions/pressure, etc.
Karega has since closed her public Facebook page but has made statements that doubled down on her crazy anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
So we can all agree that freedom of speech is critical, especially on campuses, yet let’s look at it a bit differently.
As a parent, I am sending my kid to a school for $52,000-plus a year to be taught by a nutball who believes in unprovable conspiracy theories? How about being competent? They are entitled to opinions, but they are not entitled to teach our children such stupidity.
There is no educational value in hiring the insane.
Normally one gets what they pay for, however in this case we are getting what we are accepting.
When I would come home and visit my parents from college I would occasionally use an expletive, and my mother would say, “Is that what I am sending you to college to learn? How to say ‘shit’? Is that what I am paying for?” Well, Mom, I guess in today’s world it is.
The writer is a businessman/activist/ writer/father who lives in Columbus, Ohi