Will American College Students Celebrate Kristallnacht?

By Edward Hudgins

Keep an eye on American college campuses over the next few days for celebrating students. You see, Nov. 9-10 marks the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht. On the night in 1938, Nazis in Germany rampaged through the streets, burning Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues, brutalizing thousands and murdering over 600. Of course, back then at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, thousands of students did not display swastikas and huge banners demanding “Justice for Germany.”

By contrast, thousands of American students, including 30-plus student organizations at Harvard, came out immediately in support of the Hamas terrorists’ October 7th murders in cold some 1,600 innocent Jewish men, women, children and infants in Israel, with some 200 victims kidnapped and still held hostage. Since then, we’ve seen a surge in anti-Semitic attacks. At a recent UCLA hate rally, one bigot screamed through a bullhorn “Beat that f**kin’ Jew!” Actress Gal Gadot set up a screening of a 43-minute video—there is also a two-minute version—of Hamas documenting its crimes, but demonstrators tried to shut the screening down.

So celebrating Kristallnacht for American college students and thousands of others would seem a natural.

The best and the brightest.

Unlike the situation in 1938, the heinous nature of the Hamas atrocities—torturing, raping, burning alive, beheading victims—are graphically available for all to see. The Hamas video shows one terrorist gouging the eyes out of a dead Jew, and another using a hoe to chop the head off of a still living one. Or listen to a terrorist, surrounded by dead bodies, on the phone bragging to his parents that he killed ten Jews with his own hands, and hearing his Gazan parents, who raised him to do this, blissfully congratulate him.

Let this sink in: The immediate, knee-jerk, emotional reaction of American students, a privileged class that will be the elites running our institutions and making our public policies in years to come, take the side of the killers. This isn’t a discussion of legitimate policy differences many of us have with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. This is a shocking manifestation of the warped morality of postmodernist dogma promoted through our culture, institutions and schools, which now rots the souls of what are supposed to be our best and brightest.

Inhuman American elites.

How can these students—and so many others—absurdly assert, as they do, that Israel itself is to blame for the October 7th pogrom?  Understand that their mindsets mirror that of the perpetrators of Kristallnacht. These students are profoundly ignorant about the facts and history of Israel and the Middle East’s geopolitical issues because, frankly, they don’t care. Sorting through the intricacies of a complex situation is of no interest to them because they have a “narrative” in their heads that no pile of charred corpses of babies can shake. And note: No serious, calm, balanced, fact-based, open discussions, or appeals to their humanity in an attempt to create a better world for Jews and Muslims alike, will work on most of them. The problem is in their twisted, inhuman emotions, closed minds, and sick moral characters, all impervious to reason.

No exaggeration.

Many of us, over the decades, have seen social change and upheavals, the good and the bad: the happy rise of civil rights for blacks, women, gays, and others, the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. We’ve also seen the World Trade Center in flames on 9/11, and impoverished, crime-ridden American inner cities.

We try to put events and trends into context, neither exaggerating nor minimizing. But we can’t put the student reactions to the Hamas massacres down to “We were all young and stupid at one time. They’ll grown out of it.”

This is because the Enlightenment foundations of our world—reason and science, tolerance, individual liberty, rule of law—are eroded. The dogma infecting college elites is also seen in censorship of honest, open discussion, with speakers shouted down on campuses; in the Cancel Culture; in narrow “Identity Politics” that treats individuals like barnyard animals, members of a herd, rather than as unique individuals with their own potentials and dreams.

While President Biden’s support of Israel is most welcomed, we see the rot in Vice President Harris’s announcement of a National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia, even as Jews, not Muslims, are the targets of a surge of hate to which no group should be subjected. Actually, the best counter to Islamophobia would be for tens of thousands of American Muslims to take to the streets calling for the elimination of Hamas rather than, as they did in Washington, New York and elsewhere, of Israel.

The best of times.

But I see a deep longing, especially in young people not trapped in dogma, for meaning and hope for a better tomorrow. It is the best of times as well as the worst of times because information and communications technology, nano-tech, bio-tech, robotics and artificial intelligence in the hands of entrepreneurs and innovators, can create a future of unimagined prosperity, with longer, healthy lives for all. We need to transcend the pessimism, nihilism and anger in our world with a vision of optimism, purpose and joy in achievement with which we can nurture and unleash the next generation that will bring a new Renaissance in which there will be no room for Kristallnachts or Hamases.

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Edward Hudgins