Power & Market

The Heroic Anti-War Students

Anti-war Protest

Anti-war students have been staging protests and demonstrations on a great many university campuses throughout America. A number of so-called “conservatives” have called for the police to arrest the students. Zionists groups accuse the students of “anti-Semitism” and demand that they be expelled from school. In fact, libertarians should welcome these protests. They bring back memories of the Vietnam War student protests that participated in, brought down the war-criminal LBJ.

The student protests today are actually quite moderate. They call for an end to genocide in Gaza and recognition of the rights of Palestinians who have been killed and had their land taken away from them. Let’s look at an example, the demonstrations at Columbia University, which are ongoing as I write.

Here is a statement about the way the Columbia University administration responded to the demonstrators, written by a number of philosophy graduates and alumni:

“We, current and former graduate students of the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University, are appalled at the decision taken on April 18th by the University President to violate principles of academic freedom and free speech by authorizing the forcible removal and arrest of 108 of our students and colleagues.

On April 18th, the President of Columbia University, in the name of “safety,” brought armed police into our campus to use physical force against students who had established a non-violent encampment in support of Palestine on Columbia’s South Lawn. The encampment did not disrupt classes. It did not block access to campus or buildings. Nevertheless, the police were called in after only a day. The President took this action against the recommendation of the University Senate, violating principles of shared governance established in the wake of the 1968 protests. As a result of these arrests and suspensions, students have sustained injuries, lost access to Columbia health services, and been evicted from student housing with less than 15 minutes to gather their belongings.

This followed months of tensions at Columbia since the horrifying events of October 7th and the devastating aftermath. These events have been the topic of difficult and traumatizing discussion. Columbia’s administration could have responded by promoting dialogue and mutual understanding. Instead, the administration heavily restricted speech on campus and disproportionately acted to silence one voice in particular – the voice of those protesting against the ongoing oppression and killing of Palestinians. It was in this environment of institutional repression that the student protesters decided to take action.

The University’s decision to arrest student protesters was thus the culmination of months of restriction against the public expression of support for Palestinians. The past few years have seen an alarming trend of bad faith political actors attempting to silence political speech they disagree with by policing academic institutions, thereby undermining elementary principles of academic autonomy. Columbia’s Board of Trustees has demonstrated more interest in appeasing these external forces than responding to the needs of their students, as have the administrations of other universities. We have witnessed the actions of police at other college campuses where professors are thrown to the ground and department chairs are dragged away in zip ties. Regardless of where we stand on the issue of Israel and Palestine, we should all agree that such attempts to suppress discourse are utterly unacceptable in any decent society committed to liberal principles.

Read the full article at LewRockwell.com.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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