In the aftermath of the recent Hamas terrorist attack against Israel, some of the most appalling responses came from our nation’s elitist universities.
More than 30 student groups at Harvard University issued a statement that holds “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Students of other elite universities, including New York University (NYU), quickly followed Harvard’s lead with their statements that supported Hamas terrorists while condemning Israel. On college campuses, including Georgetown and the University of Washington, radical students hosted vigils for “martyrs” who were responsible for murdering, raping, and kidnapping Israelis, including babies, last week. Professors at Yale, Columbia, and other universities also blamed Israel.
Administrators and leaders of these universities, who usually rushed out strongly worded statements about every other so-called social justice incident in the past three years, suddenly decided their institutions shouldn’t take sides. Instead, they must remain “neutral” and let “free speech” flourish, even though these institutions have been known as some of the most hostile environments for free expression.
These people have lectured the rest of America that some words are equivalent to violence. But when unconscionable violence occurred, they chose to show solidarity with murderers and rapists while shaming the victims. Their words and actions have been so detestable and shocking that influential people, usually on the political left and supporters of these institutions, took notice and decided to push back.
Too Far for Some on the Left
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman, a Harvard alum and donor, first posted on X to ask for a list of members of the student organizations that issued those vile statements “to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members.” Some companies followed Ackman’s call to action. Winston & Strawn, a prominent law firm in New York City, rescinded a job offer to the NYU Student Bar Association president, Ryna Workman, who blamed the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and declared that she wouldn’t “condemn Palestinian resistance.” These statements “are profoundly in conflict with Winston & Strawn’s values,” the firm said.
When their cushy jobs seem on the line, some students suddenly realize it isn’t worth supporting murderers and rapists. They began to distance themselves from their organizations’ revolting statements. One Harvard law student tried to claim ignorance by posting on X that many students “had no say in whether their orgs signed either letter,” and “Many weren’t even notified that their orgs were considering doing so.” Ackman responded with this advice:
Claiming that you had no involvement or knowledge of the statement but remaining a member of the organization without it withdrawing the statement is perhaps the worst of the alternatives, as it appears to simply be an attempt to avoid accountability while continuing to be a member of the organization. … Public statements made by organizations of which you are a member can have a material negative impact on your reputation. I have learned from experience that the best time to fix a mistake is now.
Students are not the only ones whose support for radical ideology wavered when their financial future was in jeopardy. Billionaire Marc Rowan, a major donor to the University of Pennsylvania and the chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management, a prominent private equity firm with close to $600 billion in assets under management, urged fellow Penn alumni to “close their checkbooks” until the school’s president, Elizabeth Magill, and the chairman of its board of trustees, Scott Bok, step down. Rowan blamed Magill and Bok for the school’s history of failing to denounce antisemitism, even after the horror committed by Hamas became known.
Several mega-donors answered Rowan’s call to action. David Magerman, a Venture Capital investor and major donor to Penn, said, “I refuse to donate another dollar to Penn.” The Wexner Foundation ended its financial and programmatic relationship with Harvard and the Harvard Kennedy School. Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, notified Penn last Saturday that the “university’s silence in the face of reprehensible and historic Hamas evil against the people of Israel … is a new low. Consequently, the Huntsman Foundation will close its checkbook on all future giving to Penn.”
A day later and a few billion dollars shorter, Penn’s Magill issued a statement, claiming she and the university “condemn Hamas’s terrorist assault on Israel and their violent atrocities against civilians” and stand “emphatically against antisemitism.” It turns out that when money was on the line, the “adults” running the elite universities suddenly noticed there was no neutral ground between good and evil.
These leaders of elite universities, leftist professors, the students they radicalized, and their like-minded fellow travelers, including the Black Lives Matter leader-turned-property owner Patrisse Cullors and the disgraced antiracist Ibram X. Kendi, who blew over $40 million in donations with nothing to show for it, are all “Champagne Marxists.”
They have adopted and preached the one-dimensional worldview first proclaimed by Karl Marx: that the world comprises oppressors and oppressed. The oppressed are entitled to launch armed revolutions to overthrow the oppressors in the old world and establish a new world. Every conflict, every piece of history, and every single current event is judged or presented through the lens of oppressors versus oppressed.
These Champagne Marxists support Hamas because they see the terrorist organization as representing the “oppressed.” Thus, any action the “oppressed” takes, regardless of how outrageous and despicable, is justified. Champagne Marxists publicly denounce countries such as the United States and Israel because they see these nations as oppressors, the very embodiment of capitalism, colonialism, and racism.
Yet, the only thing these Champagne Marxists are good at is spewing horrible ideas from the comfort afforded to them due to America’s political freedom and economic prosperity. They have no problem pursuing and enjoying the lifestyle of the capitalists and colonists they claim to despise. These Champagne Marxists are hashtag warriors who will only stand with the “oppressed” on social media or from the safe space of college campuses. They won’t last five minutes on a real battlefield, and they know it. That is why a threat of withdrawing donations or not getting well-paying jobs on Wall Street is enough to cause some of them to panic and sing a different tune.
Since last week, many Americans, including some on the political left, have been so shocked by the reactions from America’s best universities that they ask how we can save our nation’s higher education from its continuing moral decay and march to Marxism. Here are a few suggestions: We must expose the danger of framing every issue through the “oppressor” and the “oppressed” Marxist worldview; restore moral clarity on college campuses, recognizing that some actions, such as raping women and beheading babies, are pure evil; and last but not least, since Champagne Marxists care more for the champagne than ideology, it is time to take away their champagne.