What shall we say…?

Special thanks to Rabbi Mark Miller for graciously forwarding this very important and poignant excerpt from his opening remarks in his introduction to U C President Mark Yudof:

Introduction to University of California President Mark Yudoff

Temple Bat Yahm, November 4th, 2010

Rabbi Mark S. Miller

Welcome to Temple Bat Yahm for what promises to be an informative exchange of ideas with our honored guest on subjects that are of particular concern to our Jewish community and to all people of good will who cherish values of respect, decency, and dialogue.Colleges and universities today confront an increasing explosive issue over what constitutes acceptable behavior and discourse, what defines reasoned and measured argument, and what speech and actions smash the civility that should under gird the campus community.

What shall be the response to the surge in verbal and non-verbal aggression, to intimidation and harassment, to the odious vocabulary of Jew-hatred?

What shall we say when students, in the name of free speech, resort to rhetorical tropes that resurrect the symbols of Nazism and the slanders of Anti-Semitism?

What shall our reaction be when students deem it appropriate to shout down those who oppose their revisionist viewpoints and big lies?

I personally recall being reviled with the most grotesque epithets by Muslim students whose faces were contorted with rage after I delivered a guest lecture to a Political Science class at UC Irvine titled “The Demonizing of Israel in the Muslim World.”  The professor said afterward that he was never so frightened in a college setting and contemplated calling campus security to escort me to the parking lot.

It is these questions and incidents that call for response from those charged with maintaining the safety that should be guaranteed and the sanity that should prevail on our American campuses today.


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