During the current Israel-Hamas War, academia has mostly distinguished itself by its even-handed treatment of the murderers and the murdered. University administrations across the country, amidst aggressive and sometimes violent pro-Hamas campus demonstrations, have taken to issuing statements condemning what Hamas did, but without condemning what Hamas is. This rescues them from the deeply uncomfortable position – for them – of having to admit that Israel occupies not the Gaza Strip but the moral high ground.
For example, look at the statement from University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner. After referring to the “horrific terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel” (the AP and the BBC would be very disappointed), the statement goes to explain that, “The University as an institution must remain neutral on geopolitical issues.” Compare that to what Chancellor Haefner had to say about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He wrote, “At the same time, the extraordinary courage and iron will of the Ukrainian people are inspiring testimonies to the human spirit. As always, The University of Denver stands in support of those defending democracy.” If you read carefully, you may notice a subtle difference in tenor.
No such pale pastels for a group calling itself “Sociologists in Solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian People.” Instead it has issued a statement in full-throated condemnation of “the Israeli regime” and its “internationally supported genocide.” It simultaneously accuses Israel of targeting the civilian population and condemns it for trying to get civilians out of harm’s way. It repeats claims that have since been disproven, while repeating the now-familiar characterizations of Israel as colonial and “apartheid.”
The statement opens with a claim that “Sociology as a discipline is rooted in a recognition of relationships of power and inequality,” indication that the statement itself is rooted in an acceptance of cultural Marxism. The signatories want to “[contextualize] this past week’s violence in the context of 75 years of settler colonial occupation,” that is to say, how the existence of Israel justifies the rape and murder of Jewish civilians.
There is seemingly nothing wrong in Gaza that cannot be traced to Israeli depredations. Shortages are caused not by Hamas commandeering of goods, but by Israel. Refugees are killed not by Hamas roadside bombs intended to keep them bottled up in the north, but by Israeli aircraft. They are being moved south not for their own protection but so Israel can seize the northern half of Gaza.
And a word about those refugees. Unique among displaced peoples, the Palestinians are granted hereditary refugee status. All other refugees either return home or are assimilated into the local population to start new lives. Palestinians are kept in camps, by the good graces of their host countries and the UN, to maintain the fiction that they’ll be going back to their homes now in Israel, and because “refugee” has the ring of the moral superiority of victimhood around it.
What’s more, the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency charged with administering the camps, also oversees the schools there. But they allow Hamas to run them, and to introduce their intellectual poison to the youth there. Many of the October 7 terrorists graduated from those schools.
Elsewhere, it relies on convenient inventions. Yoav Gallant’s phrase “human animals” refers to the certifiably human animals that make up the terrorist government of the Strip, not to all Palestinians. Gaza is nowhere near the second most most densely populated area on earth; Manhattan and Tel Aviv, among other cities, are both more densely populated. Concern is expressed for the safety of American Muslims, while it is American Jews whose rallies are attacked, who are forced to watch calls for Jewish genocide, and who are trapped inside university libraries.
The entire statement is such a profoundly dishonest piece of naked propaganda, that anyone with a college degree should be embarrassed to be associated with it. It is nothing less than taking sides with chaos and barbarism against civil society and civilization.
The statement has gathered more than 1900 signatures worldwide, some of whom are from right here in Colorado.
David Cook-Martín is the Chairman of the Sociology Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. Now, imagine that you’re a Jewish student at CU considering studying sociology. Welcome to the psych department.
Mathieu Desan, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at CU Boulder specializing in socialism and Marxism is one of the signatories. But it seems that at least some of his scholarly writing is a vehicle for political activism: his featured publication analyzes the rise of the National Party is France, with an eye toward what would be needed to defeat it.
He is also the graduate admissions director for the department; which gives some idea of what the department will look like in future years.
Chantal Figueroa is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Anthropology Department at Colorado College, focusing on Latino mental health. No word on how, or if, she voted on the American Anthropological Association’s decision to academically boycott Israel.
Dr. Erin O’Callaghan, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at CSU, specializes in sexual violence and gender-based harm, so coming to the defense of a group that oppresses women and throws gays off of rooftops is a natural fit. Perhaps another signatory, Katie Rogers, Assistant Professor in Regis University’s Anthropology Department who also focuses on gender equality, could shed some light on that.
Professors are surely entitled to their political opinions, but when using their professional affiliations to sign a political protest letter unrelated to the topics of their research, those institutions and the taxpayers who fund them should take note.
Joshua Sharf, a Denver resident, is a regular contributor to Complete Colorado.
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