TCS Daily

The Berkeley Intifada?

By Michael Totten - June 10, 2004 12:00 AM

Over the past two and a half years Berkeley, California has added radical Middle Eastern politics to its chic campus culture. The result isn't pretty. A city that prides itself on tolerance and diversity is fast-becoming an epicenter of hate.

A recent article called The Berkeley Intifada in the East Bay Express is an eye-opener for those who think Berkeley is still what it was. Violently anti-Semitic vandalism and graffiti is making a comeback. "It's the Jews, stupid," was scratched into a 9/11 memorial. The glass door to Berkeley's Hillel building was shattered by a hurled cinderblock. Just in case the message wasn't clear, someone wrote "FUCK JEWS" on the wall nearby. Swastikas were spray-painted on a campus building accompanied by a bilingual old world eliminationist death warrant: "Die, Juden."

The East Bay Express quotes student Micki Weinberg.

"That's why I came to Berkeley -- because of its strong romantic aura of the Free Speech Movement and Mario Savio. Then I got here and discovered that that light seems to have been extinguished. You have this vitriol. You feel it everywhere. Berkeley is now the epicenter of real hatred."

This isn't only happening in Berkeley. Two years ago Lauri Zoloth wrote about the same climate of hate on the other side of the bay at San Francisco State University.

"I cannot fully express what it feels like to have to walk across campus daily, past maps of the Middle East that do not include Israel, past posters of cans of soup with labels on them of drops of blood and dead babies, labeled "canned Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license," past poster after poster calling out "Zionism=Racism" and "Jews=Nazis"...This is the Weimar Republic with brown shirts it cannot control. This is the casual introduction of the medieval blood libel and virulent hatred smeared around our campus in a manner so ordinary that it hardly excites concern..."

Skinheads, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Klansman aren't behind this, as would have been expected before Al Qaeda crashed airplanes into our buildings. Palestinian nationalism is the hot new cause for the cool kids, and the new (or is it old?) anti-Semitism is the handiwork of the far-left and their radical campus friends from the Middle East.

Most of the students who promote a free Palestine don't hate Jews, whatever they think of Israeli counter-terrorism. But they put up with hate in the ranks all the same. Even the more radical and racist Palestinian activists are "allies" in the campus cause du jour.

Meanwhile, Daniel Pipes, an articulate opponent of radical Islam and its armed terrorist factions actually was called a racist and worse at his campus speech in Berkeley, as the East Bay Express article reports. Mr. Pipes, who wisely said "militant Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution," is hardly an Islamophobe or a racist. It's just a back-alley libel against a historian of the Middle East because he doesn't toe the radical leftist line.

This is what Political Correctness has become. Mere opponents are falsely denounced as "racists" while virulently racist allies are given a pass by the very same people.

It's bad enough that the torchbearers of Political Correctness compromised their honorable anti-racist principles with expediency and hypocrisy. But what's left of Political Correctness is worse even than that. There's also something implicitly racist about it. White Christians are held to the highest possible standard. They're expected not to have a racist thought in their heads and are called out for the slightest infraction. Culprits who really are racist (and who aren't merely guilty of checking the "wrong" box on their voter registration) deserve all the shellacking they get. Meanwhile, however, ethnic and religious minorities are allowed to behave like skinheads. It looks as though the activist set expects hatemongering anti-social behavior from Muslim immigrants just as they expect a dog to pee on the rug. It's the "soft bigotry of low expectations" with a racial twist.

I could be wrong. Maybe the double standard isn't racist at all. Maybe it's all about fear. For the politically correct activist, nothing is worse than being denounced as a racist. Who would want to suffer the Daniel Pipes treatment? Criticize Muslim anti-Semitism and your comrades just might lump you in with the Klan. Maybe the PC brigade is afraid -- literally -- of itself.

If skinheads or neo-Nazis were behind the spasms of anti-Semitism we all know there would be huge demonstrations and community action to neutralize and expunge it. Whenever the Klan plans rallies anywhere they face enormous counter-protests. But since the new anti-Semitism is imported from another part of the world, too many people feel queasy about taking a stand against immigrants.

I understand. I feel awkward myself lecturing immigrants from the third world. But I wouldn't think twice about giving a European skinhead a good shove in the chest. If I moved to another country I would hope to be given a break while I adjusted. No one can instantly adapt to a new culture. If you want to give immigrants a pass on some things, good for you. But if an exchange student from, say, Egypt scrawls "Die, Juden" next to a swastika on a wall, come on, it's time to get over it.

Political Correctness is finished. What started out as intolerance of hate has become hatred's enabler. It fails to live up to its own standard and can't possibly become more absurd than it already is. It slid all the way down the slippery slope and annihilated itself.

Michael J. Totten is a TCS columnist. Visit his daily Web log at


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