Stelter Acknowledges Anti-Semitism At Columbia, Urges No Judgement

Former CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter returned to the network on Monday’s CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip to acknowledge that while there have been insistences of anti-Semitism among the Columbia campers, “we should try to remain as free of judgment of the students as we can” because he, his fellow panelists, and most of his viewers used to be students as well.

Stelter was responding to National Review’s Reihan Salam, who took a radically different approach, “When you look at the Columbia campus, when you look at the UCLA campus and a number of other campuses, what you have is really violence, intimidation, harassment that has become really systematic and really quite terrifying.”

Not only did Salam go after the students, he also condemned the feckless school administration and the professors who support the students:

If you’re someone who’s at home and you’re watching this unfold, then I think that you’re thinking a lot about our supposedly elite institutions, institutions that are meant to lead our society, that are meant to be exemplars of knowledge and truth seeking, instead descending into this chaos because you have university leaderships that do not have backbone, that have not actually demonstrated real viewpoint neutrality. You have faculty members at Columbia who are cheering on students who are, again, just harassing, intimidating, threatening other students.”

This did not sit well with Phillip, who tried to divide the demonstrators into good guys and bad guys and contended that crackdown efforts are also targeting the former, “I do want to — I mean, what is happening at Columbia, I mean, we have a little bit more visibility there. But there is a sense in which, now, and I think this is part of the point we were trying to illustrate, is that there are a lot of protesters who are doing none of those things that you just described and they’re still being dragged off of the campus and put in handcuffs. So, both things are happening at the same time.”

Illegal trespassing and encampment is still illegal, even if you’re not being violent or chanting anti-Semitic slogans. Nevertheless,  Stelter concurred, “This is happening across the country. And we’re not hearing about all these other campuses where this is happening at the same time. I think it’s right to criticize university leadership, but I think we should try to remain as free of judgment of the students as we can because many of us were students a long time ago. Students, it’s a time for education. Education can be learned in a very hard way. Some of these students are getting a very hard, but very real education.”

Two things. First, the idea that college students should be free of judgment because they’re young and prone to make bad choices should only go so far. The idea that mass murder is wrong should not be something that a 20-something-year-old adult, who happens to be college student, needs to learn. Second, Stelter ignored Salam’s vital point about the faculty’s role in this. It’s one thing to say students should be better educated, but when the educators praise October 7, the education itself becomes the problem.

Stelter continued by claiming most demonstrators are just honest, upstanding people, and we need more like them, “I don’t think these young people mostly are seeking global media attention. Some definitely are, by the way. Some definitely are. And there have been some hateful slogans chanted. But there are a lot of students now caught up in this who are not seeking that attention, who are just with their classmates. And, by the way, Bill Maher’s right when he says that, you know, there’s some narcissism that comes with activism. But I think as a country, we’re better off with more protests, not less, as long as the safety concerns are acknowledged.”

No, we’d be better off with better protests, not more.

Here is a transcript for the April 29 show:

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

4/29/2024

10:13 PM ET

REIHAN SALAM: When you look at the Columbia campus, when you look at the UCLA campus and a number of other campuses, what you have is really violence, intimidation, harassment that has become really systematic and really quite terrifying.

And if you’re someone who’s at home and you’re watching this unfold, then I think that you’re thinking a lot about our supposedly elite institutions, institutions that are meant to lead our society, that are meant to be exemplars of knowledge and truth seeking, instead descending into this chaos because you have university leaderships that do not have backbone, that have not actually demonstrated real viewpoint neutrality.

You have faculty members at Columbia who are cheering on students who are, again, just harassing, intimidating, threatening other students.

ABBY PHILLIP: I do want to — I mean, what is happening at Columbia, I mean, we have a little bit more visibility there. But there is a sense in which, now, and I think this is part of the point we were trying to illustrate, is that there are a lot of protesters who are doing none of those things that you just described.

BRIAN STELTER: That’s right.

PHILLIP: And they’re still being dragged off of the campus and put in handcuffs. So, both things are happening at the same time.

STELTER: This is happening across the country. And we’re not hearing about all these other campuses where this is happening at the same time. I think it’s right to criticize university leadership, but I think we should try to remain as free of judgment of the students as we can because many of us were students a long time ago. Students, it’s a time for education. Education can be learned in a very hard way. Some of these students are getting a very hard, but very real education.

I don’t think these young people mostly are seeking global media attention. Some definitely are, by the way. Some definitely are. And there have been some hateful slogans chanted. But there are a lot of students now caught up in this who are not seeking that attention, who are just with their classmates.

And, by the way, Bill Maher’s right when he says that, you know, there’s some narcissism that comes with activism. But I think as a country, we’re better off with more protests, not less, as long as the safety concerns are acknowledged.

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