The past few weeks have given us a revealing picture of the vacuity of higher education in America today, as top universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Penn, Stanford, to name a few, could not find it in their moral fiber to construct a coherent and unequivocal condemnation of the horrific slaughter wreaked upon Israel by the monsters from Hamas; instead mouthing merely palliative nostrums about diversity, non-judgmentalism, equality of all opinions and similar platitudes.
As a result we cannot blame their students for their childish shenanigans, including Harvard's recent "die in," and other equally ridiculous demonstrations and activities. They had to "be carefully taught," as in the South Pacific song, to become so stupid. Children do not naturally come up with their own forms of prejudice. They need to be indoctrinated by experts known as college professors.
As soon as I hear a truly inane comment, invariably it is noted as the opinion of a professor from one of our finer schools, usually Harvard, but Princeton and Stanford are right up at the top of this unholy mountain. As the Greek writer and publisher Taki Theodoracopulos put it, "If Plato had gone to Harvard he would have turned out a half-wit after one term."
Professors and college presidents, deans and administrators ought to know better. But their mealy mouthed equivocations are nothing short of amazing in their Jesuitical duplicity. Despite the advice of Notre Dame's Rev. Ted Hesburgh, they have blown "an uncertain trumpet," and it has cost them millions in lost donations and in high-level well-publicized board and trustee resignations.
It has been equally frustrating attempting to ascertain any sort of rationality from our political leadership. What should have generated instantaneous and unanimous condemnation of this senseless slaughter of the innocents instead evoked a truly watery censure, partly due to the moral ambiguity of the Democrats and the internecine warfare of the G.O.P. Old Joe Biden has made some vague promises; we'll see if he keeps them.
Some pundits, including Peggy Noonan and William Galston, both of the Wall Street Journal, have taken the opportunity to blame this on Benjamin Netanyahu, suggesting he should have been aware of the threat and therefore it's time for him to go. Never since Golda Meir herself has Israel had such a leader, and this is not the time to pick someone off the bench. Bibi is the one to handle the military response, and he should do so, good and hard.
Religious leadership is noticeably absent in news reports, perhaps because their protestations are not as newsworthy as big-name college and political activities, or possibly because they are busy with synodality, immigration or environmental causes. But it has never been wise to wait for the bishops to spring into action on a truly critical issue.
The kids at least are passionate, if misguided, leaning whichever way the current wind blows. As Hannah Arendt put it, "the aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions, but to destroy the capacity to form any." It's hard for them to form a rational response to world events when no one has ever shown them how to do it. Instead of liberal arts and broad cultural learning, schools have concentrated on so-called STEM education, thus creating a generation of technocrats who know everything except why.
There is not much an isolated individual can do under the circumstances, but out of respect for those who lost their lives in this horrendous atrocity, we can at least pray. And I suggest we say Kaddish, as it is the most appropriate prayer for our Jewish brethren.
Here is the Mourner's Kaddish, according to Sharon Memorial Park, a Jewish Funeral Service in Massachusetts. (sharonmemorial.com) Its message is appropriate for all people and for all time.
"Magnified and sanctified is the Great Name of God throughout the world, which was created according Divine will. May the rule of peace be established speedily in our time, unto us and unto the entire household of Israel. And let us say: Amen.
"May God's Great Name be praised throughout all eternity. Glorified and celebrated, lauded and praised, acclaimed and honored, extolled and exalted ever be the Name of The Holy One, far beyond all song and psalm, beyond all hymns of glory which mortals can offer. And let us say: Amen.
"May there be abundant peace from heaven, with life's goodness for us and for all thy people Israel. And let us say: Amen.
"May the One who brings peace to the universe bring peace to us and to all the people Israel. And let us say: Amen."
Here is a transliteration of the original Aramaic, also according to Sharon Memorial Park,
Yitgadal v'yitkadash sh'mei raba b'alma di v'ra chir'utei; v'yamlich malchutei b'hayeichon u-v'yomeichon, uv'hayei d'chol beit yisrael, ba-agala u-vi-z'man kariv, v'imru amen.
Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varach l'alam u-l'almei almaya. Yitbarach v'yishtabah, v'yitpa'ar v'yitromam, v'yitnasei v'yit-hadar, v'yit'aleh v'yit'halal, sh'mei d'kudsha, b'rich hu, l'ela min kol birchata , v'shirata, tushb'hata v'nehemata da-amiran b'alma,v'imru amen.
Y'hei sh'lama raba min sh'maya, v'hayim aleinu val kol yisrael, v'imru amen.
Oseh shalom bi-m'romav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu val kol yisrael, v'imru amen.