By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California — Since last Friday, when I wrote Why I Just Disinherited My Alma Mater, the post has had “legs” about what I and others say is politicized indoctrination as official college policy.
Brooklyn College requires incoming freshmen and transfer students to read an absurdly slanted book that Arab-Americans are routinely rousted by law enforcement and discriminated against, which the author attributes to racism akin to Jim Crow discrimination against Blacks a century ago and due to American imperialism. Somehow, according to college authorities, this is supposed to create a beneficial, educational “common experience.”
Glenn Reynolds’ InstaPundit blog, which is read by about 200,000 each day, linked my post and on successive days two posts by others about my post. By contrast, my hometown San Diego Union-Tribune’s daily circulation is about 250,000. Many other blogs also picked up on my post.
Today, the New York Daily News, circulation about 570,000, reported the story after interviewing me: “Alum to cut Brooklyn College out of will over required freshman reading by ‘radical’ prof” Moustafa Bayoumi.
“Bayoumi did not return a call for comment.”
In a statement, Brooklyn College said it was “regrettable that Mr. Bruce Kesler misunderstands the intentions of the Common Reader experience and the broader context of this selection.”
The National Association of Scholars wrote, however, that Brooklyn College does not understand, or understands all too well, the Common Reading Controversy at Brooklyn College.
We agree with those who find the assignment of this polemical book as common reading troubling. While much of How Does It Feel to be a Problem? seems a straightforward telling of stories, its central purpose is clear. It aims to establish Arab and Muslim Americans as victims and indict American society for making them so. By assigning this book as the sole one to be read by incoming undergraduates, most of whom will have little of the knowledge needed to evaluate its claims, Brooklyn College opens itself to the charge that it is using what should be an important education experience for ideological goals – a charge which the evidence of our study indicates could be made against a great many other colleges and universities as well.
Many readers have written about their “common experience” in indoctrination at their colleges. It is getting harder for slanted — indeed, blatant — indoctrination to hide behind ivy-covered walls. The reactions continue and builds.
P.S.: I just received this email from a former classmate:
I also had it with Brooklyn College and their attitude regarding Israel. I’m a retired N.Y.C teacher. I retired after 33 years in the system in 2001. I joined IRPE- a retiree organization at the college. I attended one of their lectures concerning the middle east. When we walked in, we were given maps of various mid-east countries. The so called conference became a hate session regarding eretz Yisroel. 3 speakers got up and one by one they denounced Israel. No one was allowed to respond to them. People walked out cursing them. When I wrote a letter to the college, they denied all of this. I left IRPE and would not contribute one further penny to the institution. Having worked, I graduated in 1969 and am the class representative for that year.
Congratulations on taking a stand.
IRPE is Brooklyn College’s Institute for Retirees in Pursuit of Education.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California. His posts also appear on the Maggie’s Farm website
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California–Most Americans, and many abroad, can’t help but choke up as they see our flag floating by in a patriotic parade. But, the 4th of July isn’t Flag Day, June 14. How many hung out their flag then?
Most Americans, and many abroad, are thankful for the men and women of the United States who stand and fight to keep millions from slavery to thugs. But, the 4th isn’t just about them. How many Americans at home give their all to support our troops and commitments?
Most Americans, and many abroad, appreciate the freedom and opportunities found by coming to our shores. But the 4th isn’t Immigration Day. How many appreciate the work, the fortitude, the risk needed to be independent?
Most Americans, and many abroad, say they’d fight for freedom. But, the 4th isn’t about physically fighting. How many stand up in public, regardless the consequences, and in their spoken and published names demand respect for our rights?
Most Americans, and many abroad, take the 4th as just another holiday. But, the 4th is about not taking a holiday from the responsibilities of a free people. How many rededicate themselves to being and helping others be free?
In 1776, most in America were not supporters of the Revolution that dramatically changed and improved the lot of future generations here and abroad. Even among the supporters, most were sunshine patriots and few Winter Soldiers.
To the few stalwarts we and the world owe more than can ever be adequately given, and indeed few were or are given what they deserve. But, the stalwarts don’t seek material rewards or comforts. How many are so at peace with themselves by just being there in full devotion and exposure to stand up?
Most Americans, and many abroad, know all this. But, too few live it, every day, in every way. How much more secure and peaceful and at ease would all be if more did?
We aren’t free and independent because we remember, respect or celebrate it. We are only free when we practice it at every opportunity and calling and contribute to others’ realization of it.
The first battle isn’t on some distant shore or with our neighbor. The first essential fight is with our own rationalizations of retreat from being an American, the exceptional.
If there’s a tear to be shed, it’s for ourselves when we haven’t been an American. If there’s a tear worth shedding, it’s in gratitude to ourselves that we have and have taken the opportunity to be an American.
The stirring words and actions of past times are inspirational. The words and actions of today are the reality of whether we actually are inspired.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas. This column first appeared on the Maggie’s Farm website
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California–Andrew Hoffman is a congregant at my synagogue, Temple Solel. Andrew Hoffman is a finalist in Major League Baseball and People magazine’s 2010 “All-Stars Among Us” national campaign, in conjunction with the MLB All-Star Game. The campaign is to recognize individuals who are serving their communities in extraordinary ways.
Andrew Hoffman works at Jewish Family Service’s Hand Up Youth Food Pantry in San Diego, which distributes food to families in need. Two Sundays each month Hoffman leads teens in distributing food and hygiene items to hundreds of needy military families in San Diego.
Andrew Hoffman is an everyday hero, helping to create a family-friendly environment for our courageous military heroes and their families. As one military mom said, “This distribution is a blessing. Last week I had to choose between diapers and groceries. Now I don’t have to.”
Andrew Hoffman deserves your support.
Please go to this link, click on the San Diego Padres, and vote for Andrew Hoffman. The site says you can return and vote as many times as you want between now and June 20.
So, please vote and often.
A total of 30 “All-Stars,” one representing each MLB team, will attend and be honored at the All-Star Week and at the pre-game ceremony on July 13 in Anaheim, CA. One of the “All-Star Among Us” winners will also be featured in People magazine during the week of the All-Star game.
By the way, today (June 8th) is Andrew Hoffman’s birthday, now 25. Let’s give him a BIG deserved birthday honor.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California. This posting also appeared on the Maggie’s Farm website
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California–Better appreciation of the facts about the Gaza flotilla (a flatuated term for that motley group of ships) are emerging, after the jumping to jaundiced judgment to jeer Israel. The key one: Turkey hid behind its radical IHH front to instigate violence and got what it wanted.
Why? The obvious answer is to delegitimize Israel.
True, but there are fathoms below that to delve for some bigger truths.
I’ve been stressing diving for one “big truth.” (here and here) The Obama administration was deep into pressuring Israel, likely contributing to the outcomes favorable to Israel’s enemies. Washington and Jerusalem should have known better.
The Obama administration, as the US State Department spokesman admitted, “through multiple channels many times” before the interdiction urged Israel to “restrain” itself. Israel acted with restraint, to the point of ineptitude. Similarly, the Obama administration at Turkey’s demand urged Israel to immediately release all aboard the Gaza blockade running ships, even though about forty were not identified or their links to Turkey and instructions were not discovered, and Israel promptly complied, allowing Turkey to cover up a key part of its nefarious role.
Credible journalists should be investigating these and probably more instances of the Obama administration’s culpabilities in harming Israel and strengthening US and Israeli foes. For those journalists who have forgotten how, here’s the basics of their craft when competently practiced: Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Some may find this exercise in truth finding not worthwhile because “everyone already knows the Obama administration is comprised of useful tools of US foes”, as one bluntly put it. But, not everyone knows, just those not of the Left paying attention. Most liberals are still in denial. This key truth needs to be prominently driven home for all to face and know. Such a high-profile event as this is the perfect vehicle to verifying what “everyone already knows,” or should know.
There’s a second “big truth” to be brought to the surface.
Since 2002, when Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan came to power in Turkey, he has been inching and jumping to move Turkey away from its past of Western orientation that Kemal Attaturk set it on after WWI, instead toward an Eastern (i.e., Islamist) view. Erdogan has played his cards well, and the stale Kemalists not. September 12 Turkey is to hold a referendum, supported avidly by Erdogan and his party, though by none else, that would cripple separation of powers by placing the judiciary under tighter control by his executive.
In the usual way of rulers who seek more power, Erdogan purposely picked the perfect “us-them” to rouse the 99%+ of Turks who are Muslim, “them” being Israel.
Erdogon and Turkey’s fingerprints on the Gaza instigation needs to be brought to the surface for all to see, including for those Turks who will be repulsed by Erdogan’s dirty deals with radicals for his own self-aggrandizement. The future of Turkey and of its impact on the West is at stake.
There’s a third “big truth” that needs to be brought to the light of day. That is the utter dangerous inanity of the Obama et. al. world view. They have repeatedly demonstrated that their view is useless and counter-productive to Western interests. Former allies and foes are not fools. They see the weakness, incompetence and ineptness of the Obama administration. They are, thus, encouraged to be bolder in pursuing policies and actions inimical to the US and to regional or world peace. Consistent with the Obama world view that is indifferent to or hostile toward the West is the casting out of Israel as an ally and measures that weaken its survival.
Surfacing the first “big truth” above is key to taking the blinders off for all to starkly see the others, and get more energized in sending those who have shucked American strength and integrity, and the survival of allies, to the bottom.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas. This article appeared previously on the Maggie’s Farm website.
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, April 20–Today, modern Israel’s 62nd birthday, is a good time to ask the question, “What if there wasn’t an Israel, would things be different in the Middle East?”
The world would still be dealing with and suffering from MidEast extremists: First of the Soviet proxies, but without Israeli intelligence penetrating them and its military defeating them, exposing the Soviet Union as an unworthy sponsor; Then of the Islamist haters suppressing its peoples and fighting each other while harboring attackers of the West, but without Israel’s development and democracy serving as an unavoidable contrast to the potentials of freedom and sanity and its military and technology exposing the fundamental weakness of their self-created backwardness.
No one in the Middle East takes seriously that the Arab-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli conflicts are the primary, secondary, tertiary or lesser cause of MidEast instability or its threats to the West.
Outside the Middle East, however, we have the core delusion among many of those raised on the puerile pap created by the Left that the modernity and successes of Western civilization somehow oppress the natural decency and advancement of Third World countries.
President Obama is the poster boy. But he is not the cause. He is merely the product. He and those who follow him, thus, fall back on the false premise that Israel is the problem.
No, the problem is their core delusion that we can escape history by denying it, even reversing it, though that still would leave the real root cause of MidEast instability, regional petty satraps, backward hatefulness, and those outside powers – from the EU to Russia to China – who benefit from retaining rule or access to oil.
If the initial thrust of President Bush’s strategy of spurring democratization in the Middle East proved hollow, then our subsequent neutralization of Iraq’s WMD potential and funding of terrorists and our struggling effort to retrieve Afghanistan from being ruled by as much a threat is at best a holding action. We, as Secretary of Defense Gates admitted, lack a strategy toward even containing Iran, its imminent nuclear armaments, its support for those who kill our soldiers and Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s and their peoples.
The exaggeration by Saddam Hussein of his own WMDs was to counter Iran. The US and initial allies entering Iraq missed the proper focus then as we do now.
Weakening Israel is not a strategy for peace in the Middle East but another abdication of what could reduce the dangers of the Middle East. The US administration and apologists are blaming the “salamis” for the failure to ice the botulism.
President Obama and followers are not the root cause of Israel’s current dilemma. They are the natural extension of the escapism that infects Western thought, that undermined President Bush’s brash, perhaps fruitless, but correct focus that peace can only come from shattering Middle East excuses and delusions and providing more fertile ground for the emergence of rulers more concerned with the betterment of their own peoples’ lots.
Israel shows the way, not the barrier. The barrier is the purposeful misfocus, the dangerous inanity, of the avoiders of truths. Isn’t 62 years enough time to prove that if modern Israel didn’t exist the catering to Middle East tyrants would still be the core cause of dire oppression there and threats to the West’s security and prosperity?
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California. This column appeared previously on Maggie’s Farm.
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California–I came into this world a few months before Israel; we’re both 62. I’ve had a life thankful to the security in the United States for my and my immediate family who escaped Europe’s persecutions and murders, and the opportunities in the US. I’ve relied upon my exertions to give back in service and sacrifice, in appreciation and selfish preservation of these conditions.
Similarly has Israel. From Israel’s intellectual and military might the world benefits in the sciences, in inventions, and in manning the front-lines against the avowed armed enemies of the West and modern civilization.
Tomorrow, April 20, 2010, is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, the day in the Hebrew calendar that corresponds to May 14, 1948. It fittingly begins the moment that ends Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. The two are that interlinked.
In my youth in the early 1950’s, it was a common question whether American Jews owed first loyalty to the US or Israel. As bigotry declined in the US and Israel was seen as our firm ally during the Cold War, that question evaporated. Until a new bigotry arose among the extreme Left, viewing the elimination of Israel as another way to deteriorate the West, and the extreme semi-isolationist Right, viewing Israel as no longer worth the alliance in the new Cold War against Islamist terrorism and its national bases.
Many American Jews, incubated within accustomed safety and advancement in the US, have lost sight of their essential link to Israel, viewing it as remote from domestic – mostly liberal — priorities and respect for their position in American society. There is some awakening due to the open hostility toward and undercutting of Israel by the Obama administration. But, the pain of an open break has thus far been only hinted at from the perversion of their caring liberalism by Obama’s imposed statism and his administration’s abdication of the US’ priority traditions of international morality and security – of recognizing the difference between an ally and an adversary.
Hillary Clinton’s best wishes to Israel on its Independence Day notably breaks with UN Resolution 242 that Israel is entitled to “secure” borders, instead calling only for “recognized” borders, which to Israel’s foes and weaklings in the West means retreat to the 1967 lines that Henry Kissinger called the “Auschwitz Line” because they leave Israel so imperiled
So, I’m actually glad to resurrect the question from my youth of whether my first loyalty is with the US or Israel. It is inextricably to both, and the weakening of Israel is the weakening of the US, and vice versa. I’m not loyal to any administration but to my and our security, here and there and elsewhere. Period. Any thing else is irresponsible sophist escapism that will only create the worst consequences for the US and Israel.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas. This column also appeared on the Maggie’s Farm website
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California–“I’m tired of hearing about the Holocaust.” Be close enough to most people for them to be honest, even Jews, and you’ll often hear that said. What they most usually mean is they are tired of hearing hypocrisy.
Sunday is Holocaust Day, Yom Ha-Shoah, Day of Remembering the Catastrophe, sadly commemorated in many nations so we don’t forget. The actual full title is Yom Ha-Shoah Ve-Hagevurah, Day of Remembering the Catastrophe and the Heroism.
Yes, there was heroism. Among the parents and strangers who kept spirits alive ‘til death. Among the relative handfuls who risked all to shelter or aid escape. Among those who escaped to fight. Among those who tried to alert the Allies and get their help, failing but persevering.
No one but a few crazies or modern advocates of mass murder now doubt the magnitude or the sheer evil of the Holocaust. But, we have largely forgotten that such enormous slaughter occurs only because it isn’t stopped, if not when emergent at least when evident. Most may mouth the words but fail to step up and combat the inciters and perpetrators before they proceed to unleash their venom and death beyond the original target peoples or nations.
Iran promises and prepares for another, of Israel, as would many in the region applaud or participate, and the world stand by. All will live in terror and subjugation to it.
To perpetrate genocide requires the encouragement of tyrants, the aid of organization and the state, inculcation and mobilization of murderers, and the willing or tacit support of the people sown with excuses and calumnies for violent hate.
They all profit: Rulers from distraction away from their oppression, corruption or incompetence and by organizing mass movements to be used for other ends; Organizations from receiving the favors of the rulers; Murderers from being unshackled from restraint; People who are enriched by their neighbors’ property or from feeling more elevated than they are.
To allow genocide only requires other nations’ leaders to have other agenda priorities believed above the justice of actively opposing it, or more important than the consequences not only for the murdered and dispossessed but also for regional peace and security when tyrants are allowed to their ends and then reach out further with their empowered belligerence. Weak and ill-guided leaders of these nations profit from temporarily avoiding responsibility.
In any genocide, there are some but few heroes who risk their own and families’ safety. It is unrealistic to expect many more, especially when isolated, endangered, operating in isolation. There are even fewer when abandoned by other nation’s leaders, especially by those who actually have the power to support them, and their opportunities to survive, overcome or overthrow are diminished.
“I’m tired of hearing about the Holocaust.” When something is really done to end the threat or actuality, then I want to hear. Politicians, please keep your empty platitudes. Do something. Do something real. Then tell me “Never Again!”
Actively support a US and an international strike force that will intervene promptly.
Stop supporting the United Nations’ platform for tyrants.
Stop belittling or hogtying the few allies who have the survival or moral stake to stand up to tyrants.
Repeatedly, loudly denounce those who set themselves on the path to genocide and send aid to those within their grasp with the courage to fight back.
Until then, “I’m tired of hearing about the Holocaust” will be common, and even justified.
My middle name is Neach, Neal in English, named after my grandfather’s brother, principal of a Jewish college (that’s an academic high school) in the Pale, he and his family beaten over their heads with shovels by Germans and locals and tossed into pits. I too am tired of hearing about the Holocaust as the tired BS from too many among our hypocritical or dangerously misguided politicians, most notably now President Obama.
This isn’t a Jewish issue. This is the human issue. Simon Wiesenthal: “For your benefit, learn from our tragedy. It is not a written law that the next victims must be Jews.
Cynics warp the Holocaust as not a special instance, as there were and are other genocides. But, they actually make the point of why the Holocaust is so important as our first modern technologic precursor, and still the most murdered. Others try to confuse the issue by calling anything they want to denounce a holocaust if it is alleged done by the West, to weaken the West’s self-respect and resolve, and to weaken Israel.
Holocausts, genocides, and how we speak and act reveal what we create, what we tolerate, what we are. As does the integrity of our focus, their prevention, our actually fighting, reveal our morality.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California. This post also appeared on Maggie’s Farm.