December 13, 2023
As I’ve long pointed out, the most likely fault line where the Democrats’ imposing but fragile Coalition of the Fringes might fracture divides Jews and blacks. Two earlier black moments—the late-’60s Black Power era and the early-’90s Louis Farrakhan fad—both sputtered out when Jews became alarmed by black anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism and turned their enormous influence against black activists.
This month, we are seeing a renewed struggle between the black-infatuated wokeness that dominates the ideology of universities in the 2020s and Jewish power.
During the current Jewish donors’ strike, Asian-American college admission consultant Christopher Rim told the New York Post that you might be able to weasel your not-so-bright scion into an Ivy League college for only a $2 million pledge to its development fund, about a 90 percent discount off the going price before October 7th.
And, moreover, Rim thinks the slashed prices will be short-lived. “Once the president or the chairman of the board either is removed or resigns, I think a lot of these mega-donors will come back,” he said. “At the end of the day, the prestige of these Ivies is not going to disappear.”
Three women college presidents testified before Congress last week and were hilariously stumped by tendentious questions about whether they would punish students and faculty for purported calls for Jewish genocide, such as use of terms like “intifada” and “from the river to the sea.”
Of course, at present, Israelis are blasting hell out of Palestinians as vengeance for Hamas’ Comanche raid-like atrocities, with Israeli politicians debating how best to ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip. Dump the Gazans on Europe, Canada, and the United States? Drive the Gazans into the desert like the Ottomans did to the Armenians in 1915?
Whichever side you back in this conflict, it’s all quite horrifying. I don’t see why American university administrations should be required to step in and end the debate on campus over the Israel-Hamas war in favor of one side or the other. Let them argue.
So far, the white gentile president of Penn has been pushed into resignation, with the fate of the black president of Harvard currently hanging in the balance as I write (while of the equivocating trio, the Jewish president of MIT seems least at risk).
Update: The Harvard Crimson is reporting on Tuesday morning that Claudine Gay will get to keep her job, after a number of nervous days in which Harvard Corporation leader Penny Pritzker (the heiress behind Barack Obama’s rise) had refused to publicly say anything in her support.
In general, when Harvard does affirmative action, it can afford the best blacks, so it makes quotas look less egregious in practice than they turn out to be at less privileged institutions. For example, The Bell Curve 29 years ago reprinted a leaked list of the racial gap in average SAT scores at a couple dozen top colleges. Harvard’s disparity was by far the smallest at only 91 points. Similarly, when Harvard set up an African-American studies department, it obtained as its brightest light Henry Louis Gates, who is a genuinely worthy scholar of black American literature.
Hence, when Justice Lewis Powell wrote his controlling decision in the 1978 Bakke decision legalizing quotas as long as they were called “goals,” it naively boiled down to, in effect: Everybody should just act like Harvard.
So, when the current Intersectionality mania demanded that Harvard make a black woman its president, I assumed that Harvard, with its vast prestige and endowment ($49 billion), would be able to find a genuinely impressive black woman. I mean, in all of academia, there has to be at least one out there somewhere who wouldn’t mind being president of Harvard, right?
But with Claudine Gay, Harvard came up with an affirmative-action dud. Gay is not even much of a story of personal triumph over American racial history, in contrast to former Brown U. president Ruth Simmons, who was the youngest of the twelve children of an East Texas sharecropper. Instead, Gay, the daughter of bourgeois Haitians (and cousin of fashionable, morbidly obese writer Roxane Gay), attended the stratospheric Phillips Exeter Academy boarding school (founded 1781; current cost: $64,789 annually).
Scholia lists only thirteen academic publications by Gay, a derisible number for a Harvard professor. Moreover, they don’t seem to have made all that much of a splash among scholars.
And now she’s enduring accusations of plagiarism by Chris Brunet and Christopher F. Rufo. The hardworking investigative journalist Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon has added more examples to the pile-on.
On the other hand, most of the plagiarism she’s so far been accused of is fairly technical, such as lifting a sentence about a methodological matter and changing one word without footnoting it: bad form by scholarly standards, but I’m not going to rush to cast stones because if you searched through my voluminous blogging, you might find similar infractions. (Of course, I’ve published more than thirteen articles. And I’m not the president of Harvard.)
As president of Harvard, she’s unedifyingly been ginning up even more diversity sinecures for blacks, women, and, especially, black women.
Why have Jewish billionaires like Bill Ackman and the late Jeffrey Epstein’s close personal friend Leslie Wexner been able to throw America’s most venerable colleges into crisis over the Israel-Hamas conflict?
Because they are extremely generous.
I haven’t been able to find any academic studies of what percentage of donation dollars to American universities come from Jews. (The topic of who is paying for their lavish campuses is remarkably uninteresting to social scientists.) But I would assume it’s substantial.
By way of analogy, to evaluate Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s 2019 comment that Congressional support for Israel is “All about the Benjamins [$100 bills],” I looked up the ethnic origins of the 50 biggest political donors in the 2018 election cycle and found:
Of the $675 million given by the top 50 donors, 66 percent of the money came from Jews and 34 percent from gentiles.
As a quick and dirty count of giant donations to colleges, I looked up Best Colleges’ list of the dozen gifts to universities in American history of $500,000,000 or more.
Their tabulation was led by two gifts of $1.1 billion: former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2018 donation to his alma mater of Johns Hopkins to increase financial aid, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr’s 2022 gift to Stanford to establish the Doerr School of Sustainability.
Three bestowals of $500 million each were from Phil Knight, founder of Nike (who was played by Ben Affleck in the fun 2023 movie Air): two to his alma mater the U. of Oregon, and one to the Oregon Health & Science U.
Of the dozen colossal donations, two were anonymous: $550 million in 2021 to Western Michigan and $1 billion this year to McPherson, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. I don’t know who gave to Western Michigan (the Stryker-Johnston Foundation, perhaps?), but I’d speculate that the bequest to McPherson came from billionaire McPherson graduate Harry Stine. A son of a farmer, he founded Stine Seeds and is now the richest man in Iowa. A lot of small liberal arts colleges are likely to go out of business after the number of high school graduates drops sharply in 2026, eighteen years after the crash of 2008. McPherson is now likely to be one of the survivors.
So, ignoring the mysterious Western Michigan benefaction, but assigning McPherson’s to Stine, we know the donors of eleven vast donations. By my count, six were from gentiles: Doerr’s, Knight’s three, Stine’s, and that of Gordon Moore of “Moore’s Law,” who gave $600 million way back in 2001 to his alma mater Caltech.
And, I’m estimating, at least four of the eleven were from Jews: Bloomberg’s, Stewart and Lynda Resnick’s $750 million in 2019 to Caltech, Mark Zuckerberg’s $500 million to Harvard (from which he famously dropped out), and Renaissance Capital’s Jim Simons’ donation of $500 million this year to public Stony Brook.
Finally, I’m not sure of the ethnicity of Herbert Irving, who posthumously gave $700 million in 2017 to Columbia U. Medical Center–New York Presbyterian Hospital, but I’m guessing he was Jewish: He was born in Brooklyn in 1917 and his wife’s maiden name was Rapoport, that of a famous rabbinical family. So that would be five of the eleven.
Evidently, although Jews are said to make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population, a significant fraction of the most spectacular college donations are by Jews. And that has earned Jewish voices a lot of clout on campus.
What’s interesting is that donors evidently could have struck back against the rise of campus wokeness at any point before October 7th, but it didn’t seem to occur to them as being important until now.
A crucial question is whether in the long run the donors’ strike will undermine wokeness or exacerbate it, making Jewish interests even more off-limits to criticism than before and causing the Democratic coalition to unify around anti-straight-white-gentile-male hate even more than today.
As I wrote in November:
It’s quite possible, unfortunately, that October 7th will lead to Jews doubling down on wokeness as long as Jews get to be at the top of the totem pole of sacred classes.
On the other hand, it’s also possible that more Jews will recognize that they will never be conceded the top spot and the other contenders for most sacred minority are not their friends. Instead, what’s actually good for the Jews is America’s pre-woke culture of free speech and open debate.
We shall see.
Fortunately, some leading Jewish academics, such as Harvard’s Steven Pinker, have spoken out in favor of freedom.
But others are calling instead for more censorship of the white majority in the name of minoritarianism. For example, from the Washington Post opinion page:
To fight antisemitism on campuses, we must restrict speech.
Claire O. Finkelstein is Algernon Biddle professor of law and professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the school’s Open Expression Committee and chair of the law school’s committee on academic freedom.
With Professor Finkelstein chairing the Penn law school’s academic freedom committee, good luck to Penn law professor Amy Wax’s struggle to retain her tenure after telling the truth.
Dr. Wax is going to need it.
This is because the value of free speech has been elevated to a near-sacred level on university campuses. As a result, universities have had to tolerate hate speech—even hate speech calling for violence against ethnic or religious minorities. With the dramatic rise in antisemitism, we are discovering that this is a mistake: Antisemitism—and other forms of hate—cannot be fought on university campuses without restricting poisonous speech that targets Jews and other minorities…. Universities also have a duty under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to ensure that their campuses do not descend into “hostile environments” that effectively exclude students of ethnic, religious or racial minorities from receiving the benefit of educational programs and activities on campus.
After all, we know from first principles that minorities are the Good Guys and the majority are the Bad Guys. That’s democracy!
But who exactly is a privileged minority and who is a dreaded majority these days?
Jews are definitely a minority on a global scale, and a numeric minority within the United States (but less so in progressively more elite circles, such as at Ivy League colleges). But the current debate is, in large part, over Israeli policy. Israeli Jews have worked hard to boost their fertility and to attract Jewish immigration in order to remain a majority “from the river to the sea,” and are an overwhelming majority of Israeli voters.
But, in turn, are Palestinians a minority? Or are they part of the large Arab and Muslim majorities in the Middle East?
It’s all very arguable.
Likewise, in the Harvard Crimson survey of the class of 2027, only 42.5 percent of Harvard freshmen identified as white. White gentiles would be considerably lower than that figure, and straight white gentile males, the designated villains in the woke worldview, are a very small minority. (That’s why the woke feel safe in abusing them.)
During the anti-white Great Awokening as affirmative action for blacks and Hispanics has been intensified, Jewish overrepresentation in elite institutions has been dropping sharply. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service reported in 1967:
According to a survey of this year’s admission policies at the Ivy League institutions, published today by The New York Times, about 40 percent of the students at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania are now Jewish. At Yale, Harvard and Cornell, the Jewish students are now thought to number between 20 and 25 percent, while between 13 and 20 percent of the students at Dartmouth, Princeton and Brown are believed to be Jewish.
But a decade into the Great Awokening, Inside Higher Education reported this year:
Jewish students…now make up just roughly 16 percent of the 10,412 undergraduates at Penn…. Jews now make up 9.9 percent of Harvard’s undergraduate enrollment and 12.2 percent at Yale, according to estimates on Hillel’s website. The share of Jewish students at Columbia University is an estimated 22.3 percent. Roughly 8.8 percent of Dartmouth students, and 9.6 percent of Princeton students, are Jewish. Cornell and Brown are the only two Ivies to buck the trend of significant declines compared to the 1960s, with Jewish students making up 21.5 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively, of the enrollment.
In other words, Jews are being pushed out of the upper reaches of the Ivies for the sin of being white:
Mark Oppenheimer, the host of Gatecrashers, a podcast about the history of Jewish quotas at the Ivies, said…“Today I don’t think there’s anyone in college admissions who’s deliberately trying to squeeze Jews out,” he said. “The quest for greater racial diversity makes it a little harder for many applicants who are perceived as white to get in,” he said.
In other words, despite Jews’ tendency to romanticize themselves as the ultimate minority, according to Office of Management & Budget guidelines, the great majority of Jews are counted as boring old whites for diversity tabulation purposes. And during the “racial reckoning,” being bureaucratically white is increasingly not good for the Jews.
Of great interest is whether Jews will eventually figure out that the current fad for anti-white defamation is bad for the Jews. The Anti-Defamation League doesn’t seem to have a clue. But it’s not impossible that more Jews will eventually smarten up.
More generally, we need to move beyond our current obsession with privileging officially designated minorities and strive instead for equal rights for all.