I am so happy to see students standing proudly on the right side of history

The Morris campus of the University of Minnesota is quiet. We’re small and rural, so I think we lack the critical mass to spark substantial protests, but universities in the Twin Cities are taking up our slack. They’re organizing, building an encampment, and delivering demands.

Students rallied and set up tents at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, as well as at Hamline University in St. Paul, as anti-war protests continue into a second week.

At the U of M, hundreds of protesters called on the school to divest from weapons manufacturers and companies tied to the Israeli military. The students also want the school to end study abroad programs in Israel.

At around 7:30 p.m., police gave dispersal orders, prompting many to link arms around the grassy area in front of Northrop Memorial Auditorum, where more than 30 tents stood.

Good for them! They are demonstrating peacefully and righteously, although that doesn’t prevent campus police from moving in and arresting students. And, as usual, there are accusations that protesting Israel and Zionism is anti-Semitic — it’s not, but we have to recognize that there are anti-Semitic groups all across the country who are exploiting these protests.

Columbia University administrators are doing a fine job of showing how not to respond to student protests. They set deadlines for students to leave and have threatened them with the thugs called cops, and in response, the students ignored the deadlines and have occupied several campus buildings. Stupid administrators. Instead of listening and recognizing student grievances, they’ve managed to escalate the situation. The problem here is that the administrators are incompetent and don’t believe they have any obligations to the students. The students are the reason the university exists!

The real rioters are cops and college presidents. Students and faculty are linking arms and condemning genocide, while administrators shriek and wail in dismay and send in cops with clubs, guns, and gas to break them up.

The past week or so has been, in many ways, unfathomable: Palestine solidarity protests sprung up at college campuses across the country; Local and state police resorted to violence to break many of them up; Some universities changed their rules last minute just so they could criminalize previously benign student and faculty activity; Prosecutors in most jurisdictions with arrests won’t say if they’ll charge the protesters. Meanwhile in Gaza, multiple mass graves filled with hospital patients were uncovered.

On top of it all, Christian Zionists—in and out of Congress—tried to take over as the true defenders of Israel, while failing to mention why they so zealously defend it. (Hint: If the Jews return to Israel, it will hasten the return of Jesus and an armageddon. Just don’t ask them what happens to the Jews once armageddon happens. Another hint: We go to hell.) Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson suggested in a speech on Columbia’s campus that it might be time to send in the National Guard. Evangelical preachers led a crowd that yelled things like “Go home, terrorists!”, “Go back to Gaza!” and “You want to camp? Go camp in Gaza!” at student protesters. If this all sounds crazy, that’s because it is crazy.

Oh, and about those prohibited activities — here’s a list from the University of Florida.

As has been pointed out online, many of those prohibited activities would shut down tailgating at football games, which most universities regard as a sacred rite.

Faculty, with a few notable exceptions, have been supportive of students’ right to protest. In fact, the Barnard AAUP faculty voted unanimously to make a statement of “no confidence” in the college president. I had to gasp at that — a group of 102 faculty members all agreed on something? I can’t imagine the Morris campus senate doing anything like that, and it probably would take hours of wrangling back and forth to even get a tepid statement out of them. Things must be getting extreme at Barnard.

They tried to do something similar at Columbia, but fell short, and settled for a compromise resolution that was still pretty damning. That’s more like the fractious faculty I know.

At Columbia University, a proposal to censure university president Minouche Shafik fell short, but a resolution calling for an investigation passed by a vote of 62-14 on Friday, according to the New York Times. Shafik has been scrutinized since a decision last week to summon New York police to the campus and authorize them to dismantle an encampment, resulting in the arrest of more than 100 student protesters.

After a two-hour meeting on Friday, the university’s senate approved a resolution that Shafik’s administration had undermined academic freedom and disregarded the privacy and due process rights of students and faculty members by calling in the police and shutting down the protest.

I wonder what it takes to get college presidents to recognize how badly they are fucking up. We’ve got protests sweeping across the nation, they keep generating horrendously terrible optics by sending armored mobs of cops to beat up students and faculty and throwing them in jail, their faculty are sending them strongly worded complaints, and still they keep playing the same stupid games. I don’t have any kids in college anymore, but if they were, and if I saw them getting thrown down and handcuffed at the behest of some asshole college president, I’d be furious and looking to help my kids transfer to some place that isn’t a militarized camp run by wannabe fascists. If I had a kid looking to enroll in college, I’d be torn but what I see at Columbia: the students seem awesome, but man is that place mismanaged. Like a lot of schools right now.

The most encouraging thing I’m seeing about the protests is that wow, the kids are all right. They get it. They are doing the right thing. I would remind them of these words by Frederick Douglass:

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power conceded nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

Right now, I’m seeing some of the anti-protest Right whining about the encampments, but they’re blocking the siiiiidewaaaalk in the same way that people complained about Black Lives Matter marches, but they’re blocking traaaaffic. Yeah? Too bad. You’re being confronted with a minor inconvenience while Palestinian people are seeing whole families murdered. Get over it.

Stop the genocide, the students will stop troubling your conscience. It’s that easy.


  1. joel says

    Don’t blame the college presidents. I mean, do blame them, but keep in mind that they are not the fundamental problem here. Their phones have been ringing with billionaire megadonors telling them to arrest/silence/imprison those protesters or else. And these presidents understand perfectly well that megadonors really can get them fired if they talk back.

  2. raven says

    Frederick Douglas:

    Power conceded nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

    He got that one right.

    People and groups of people don’t give up power voluntarily.
    It often takes a lot more than a demand for the ruling elites to share their power.

    Just look at the history of the USA.
    It’s the history of one group after another struggling for equality, equity, and power in our society, i.e. Blacks, women, Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Gays, etc..
    It never ends.

  3. Ridana says

    “Individuals…shall be trespassed from campus. … Students will receive a 3 year trespass… Employees will be trespassed…” Is that like “Trespassers will be violated”? Seriously, I’ve never seen that usage before.

  4. robro says

    That picture of the student in front of the line of baton armed cops is reminiscent of photos from the Vietnam War protests. Some things have hardly changed.

  5. hillaryrettig1 says

    University professors have always been spineless hacks – I remember Doonesbury’s take on the Yale president in the 1970s.

    As a (secular) Jew, I feel far more at threat from the actions of Netanyahu and his cabal, and nothing but respect for the students protesting genocide.

  6. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Except for the few, probably not-even-student assholes shouting “Death to [whatever makes NewsMax look right about these protests]!” they’re really encouraging – simple, direct, confrontational but entirely peaceful, with all violence that pf the police.

    I’m selfishly glad my kids aren’t there, though. Among the only places I see the comments of real, everyday MAGAs, they want a repeat of Kent State – some openly saying it (and protected by FB as long as the AI doesn’t see certain words).

    And many want, or think they want, a repeat of Kent State all over the nation.

    Even the not-at-heart, only-deluded MAGAs will absolutely stand by for open murder now, even though 99% of them are too cowardly to do anything themselves.

    These are the worst people who have ever lived, because they truly know better and have no excuse.

  7. numerobis says

    It’s not just MAGA. The centrists want to knock heads too. That’s why Johnson is out there demanding the national guard beat the shit out of the students; he wants to win centrist votes away from Biden.

  8. hillaryrettig1 says

    The New Yorker has a great piece by Louis Menand on the disappearance of academic freedom (sorry for paywall:


    I’m still heartbroken over yesterday’s posts from the professor leaving the field. A few years back, I met an adjunct whose specialty was religious attitudes towards the environment. I can think of no more important topic. She said that, that year, there was exactly one job opening in her field, and she was leaving it to become an accountant.

  9. Jazzlet says

    Ridana ‘#4
    I thought it looked an odd usage too, but this is Wikipedia’s definition

    Trespass to the person historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, mayhem (or maiming), and false imprisonment.[1] Through the evolution of the common law in various jurisdictions, and the codification of common law torts, most jurisdictions now broadly recognize three trespasses to the person: assault, which is “any act of such a nature as to excite an apprehension of battery”;[2] battery, “any intentional and unpermitted contact with the plaintiff’s person or anything attached to it and practically identified with it”;[2] and false imprisonment, the “unlawful obstruction or deprivation of freedom from restraint of movement”.

    Which sounds about right for what we have seen happen to both staff and students, it’s still an ugly construction grammatically and actually.

  10. says

    The true irony of sending in the blackshirts with their clubs and riot gas is that their weapons and tactics were most likely developed and possibly supplied by Israel using American taxpayer foreign aid and tried and tested on the blood and bodies of Palestinians like so much of the weaponry used against peaceful protestors.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Speaking of the University of Florida, last night nine student antiZionist protesters were arrested because three of them – brace yourselves – refused to get up out of the lawn chairs the cops told them were now prohibited. (They had to bring in city and state law enforcement; the campus cops were too student-friendly.)

    The campus faculty union is giving them full support – which means approximately nothing to the failed Republication politician Gov DeSantis appointed as UF president.

    No further arrests as of the latest report I’ve seen from three hours ago.

  12. robro says

    Bring in the National Guard to stop students from peacefully demonstrating for peace. Four dead in Ohio.

  13. Thornapple says

    Personally am grateful to see major support for Palestine on this site. It’s very rare to come across atheist/skeptic sites that are openly supportive of Palestine compared to Jerry Coyne & others. Wish there’s a more atheist personalities like PZ Myers.

  14. nihilloligasan says

    fyi there have been a few attempts at getting at least an awareness campaign at UMM, it’s just there’s an issue of getting enough people interested in long term support as well as general confusion about what and how Morris contributes to Israeli funding (knowing specifics helps make the target/goal clearer)

  15. WhiteHatLurker says

    I’ve been playing “Ohio” on repeat for a couple of weeks now. You Yanks do have an issue that you’ll have to confront better than you have done historically. @robro – you are right! “What if you knew her?”

    It is unfortunate that this is happening at the same time that women are becoming university presidents. As someone said “I don’t blame the presidents.” In general their hands are forced to a degree by what has been dealt to them. They are not responsible for the over reaction of the Israelis to the heinous provocation of Hamas’ attack (which is in part a problem of an Israeli laxness in intelligence and obliviousness). They aren’t responsible for the funders that overwhelmingly favour the Israeli government. (Noting that the Israeli people have differing opinions.) However, the universities’ presidents are responsible for the (over) reactions on their own campuses to their students’ concerns. If they are not giving their students those students’ chance to express the outrage that they reasonably feel to the horrendous attacks of the IDF on the innocents of Gaza, those presidents should no longer be representing those institutions.

    I can’t speak to the investments of the universities – I’d love to experience the situation where our university had the money to be able to expand to what our colleges’ ambitions are, let alone fund war efforts in far off lands – but it’s not always the case where moneys can be rediverted on a flick of a switch. Still, a sense of history should have opened the doors of the presidential palace a notch to let the students speak.

    Thanks for passing on the Barnard story – I’d not heard that. It is hopeful.

    As Neil said (or I guess it was David Crosby) – “How many more?”

    Wishing you all the best, but best guess is with the mess you have that the best isn’t even good.

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