Recently the presdient of the University of Pennsylvania was let go from her position because her position on chants of “intifada” on campus. Her argument was that free speech should always be perserved. In the same round of testimony, the presidents of Harver and M.I.T. were also questioned and also answered that while the phrase translating to a Jewish genocide was horrible, it shouldn’t be stopped because of free speech.
This lead to a larger question of what freedom of speech means. When does one freedoms begin to infringe upon anothers ability to persue life. There is a legal side of this and an ethical side. I’m not a legal scholar, and while I wish I knew more about the laws here, I am just ignorant. I don’t know from a legal perspective what is right and what isn’t.
From a moral perspective, I don’t think it should be allowed to call for a genocide of people. Where I think the current conversation falls short is that not only should we have calls against “intifada”, I think we should also have calls against islamaphobia. It shouldn’t be okay to call for the death of people based on race, religion or sexual preference in public. I mean, I don’t think death should ever really be the answer.
I’m dissapointed in all of these universities. While the U Penn president was let go, both M.I.T. and Harvard have supported their current presidents. I don’t agree with this approach. My feeling is that higher education should be a place of growth and learning and no one should be permitted to call for the death of other people, regardless if their school is a humanities school or an engineering school.
Small aside relating to my Jewishness in this moment in history. Hanukkah just started and this is the time the year when I got a bunch of “Happy Hanukkah” greetings. While it is nice to have a jewish holiday mentioned, every time I hear this greeting, I’m a little hurt. In terms of relgious Holiday’s Christmas is like the Superbowl of Christian Holidays. Saying Merry Christmas to someone who is christian is acknowledging their most important holiday of the year. In contrast, Hanukkah is a very minor holiday in Judaism. The most important Jewish Holiday is Rosh Ashana. Which is our new year and happens in September. The number of times someonme wishes me Happy New Year around Rosh Ashana is dismal. The number of people who wish me Happy Hannukkah is high. The ratio between the two is disheartening. I don’t necessarily think it is wrong to wish someone who is jewish a Happy Hannukah, but please also consider remembering their religion and holidays in September around the time of Rosh Ashana.