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Commentary by Adam Guillette originally published by RealClearEducation and RealClearWire.
In the days following the horrific terrorist attacks against Israel, a group of students at Harvard penned a vile letter claiming Israel – not Hamas – was responsible for the violence. Their reprehensible behavior emboldened antisemites across Harvard’s campus and other universities around the country like a virus. Reports of harassment and assaults against Jewish students skyrocketed, and pro-Hamas protesters flooded campus streets calling for the abolishment of the Jewish state.
As the President of Accuracy in Media, a watchdog organization with a particular focus on higher education, I knew something had to be done. Students engaging in antisemitic activities had to be held responsible, and the radical faculty and administrators who protected or encouraged this behavior had to be exposed. It became increasingly clear to us that radical Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs were to blame. Rather than fostering diversity of thought and equal opportunity, the DEI agenda promotes a victim mentality and advances identity politics. It creates a dichotomy of white versus non-white, and only allows for a radically progressive line of thinking to exist.
In theory, DEI should foster an environment that is welcoming of all ethnicities and nationalities, but that is not the case. DEI officials should have been the first to speak out against antisemitism on campuses. Unfortunately, many of these officials sided with the radical students responsible for antisemitic rhetoric. A 2021 study by the Heritage Foundation examined the social media profiles of 741 DEI officials at 65 universities. The study found that 96 percent of officials posted negative comments about Israel. There is no question that DEI programs have directly contributed to the rampant antisemitism we see in higher education today. The negative impact of DEI on university campuses is undeniable, but perhaps more worrisome is the appearance of DEI programs in K-12 schools, where students are at their most impressionable.
The dangers of allowing DEI to permeate our schools are very real, which is why several state and local governments have banned DEI in public education. Accuracy in Media conducted investigations into several school districts and discovered that teachers and administrators were continuing to teach these radical ideologies against state regulations and against the will of local parents. Exposing these educators was the first step in holding school districts accountable and demanding action, but after the events at Harvard and other universities, we knew we had to take this fight to the top. The world needed to know just how dangerous and divisive the DEI agenda truly is. This realization prompted us to act swiftly and decisively.
On October 10th, just days after the Harvard letter was released, we dispatched mobile billboard trucks to campus highlighting the students who signed the antisemitic letter blaming Israel for the attack. Our goal was to amplify their message and ensure that their fellow students knew exactly what these individuals stood for.
We also launched a corresponding online campaign with a portal allowing activists to send emails to the Harvard trustees, calling on them to act. More than 20,000 people sent a staggering 239,241 emails to university leadership through this portal, urging them to condemn antisemitism on campus. Harvard’s failure to act quickly hit a nerve. Jewish students told us they did not feel safe on campus. Celebrities publicly condemned the university. Wealthy donors pulled their funding. It became increasingly clear that this was not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats or right versus left. This was a matter of morality – of right and wrong.
At Accuracy in Media, our goal was to call attention to the rampant antisemitism at Harvard because we believed the world deserved to know just how far this elite institution had fallen. We believed that Americans deserved to know the truth about DEI and its role in the widespread antisemitism that took root. We felt that a failure to speak up would give antisemites a pass to continue spewing hatred. As our campaign took off, we knew we needed to replicate it elsewhere across the country.
We expanded to Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, and other universities where reports of antisemitism were particularly concerning. At all of these universities, there was one common thread: DEI. We sent more mobile billboards to these campuses – this time condemning administrators and university leadership as well as radical students.
In late November, the dean of Columbia Law School resigned. Days later, university presidents from Harvard, UPenn, Columbia, and MIT were called to testify at a Congressional hearing regarding antisemitism on their respective campuses. This hearing revealed that the virus infecting these institutions was more severe than anyone thought. Every single official at the hearing failed to condemn antisemitism on their campuses, and the public backlash was astounding. In the following days, UPenn President Liz Magill stepped down from her post amid pressure from donors, and finally, just last week, Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned. Now, there are calls for MIT President Sally Kornbluth to do the same.
These resignations and the public pressure that led to them are promising. This is proof that the American people are paying attention and that they are fed up. However, this is only the beginning of the fight to eliminate hate and antisemitism from college campuses. DEI programs have become deeply entrenched in our educational system.
From K-12 schools to universities, DEI has started to change the way our schools operate – from the kinds of teachers and administrators they hire, to the materials they teach, to the students they admit. DEI officials are actively trying to build educational environments that create winners and losers based not on merit, but on attributes like race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Just as we led the fight against antisemitism on university campuses, AIM will continue to lead the fight against DEI. As part of a multi-state initiative, our hidden camera investigators have already exposed dozens of K-12 school districts that push the radical principles associated with DEI and Critical Race Theory in defiance of the law. Our team will continue to do so at every level of education until this hateful propaganda is defeated. The American education system – and our children’s future – depends on it.
By Adam Guillette – This article was originally published by RealClearEducation and made available via RealClearWire.