Purging the Presidents

City JournalLessons from the University of Pennsylvania

As recently as Friday, the prospect of reforming American institutions of higher education looked like a lost cause. Despite last week’s disastrous congressional testimony by Penn’s Liz Magill, MIT’s Sally Kornbluth, and Harvard’s Claudine Gay, in which none could definitively state that calling for genocide violates institutional policies, their boards seemed unmovably committed to the status quo.

According to reports I’ve obtained, an emergency telephone meeting of Penn’s board held last Thursday afternoon confirmed Magill in leadership, with only one member voicing opposition. The same day, MIT’s trustees offered Kornbluth their “unreserved support” and released a statement praising “her excellent academic leadership, her judgment, her integrity, her moral compass, and her ability to unite our community.” Gay faced no serious opposition at Harvard, where 511 professors signed a letter rejecting calls for her resignation.

By Saturday afternoon, however, Magill and Penn’s board chairman Scott L. Bok had both resigned, and Harvard constituencies were aggressively gunning for Gay, who, in addition to her other troubles—trucks sporting her picture, along with demands for her dismissal, are circling Harvard’s campus—now stands accused of plagiarism. Kornbluth is the subject of increasingly outspoken public protests on her campus and faces ongoing external calls to resign. Over the weekend, several prominent mainstream media commentators jumped on the conservative bandwagon in observing what has been demonstrable for years: that the ideology of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is morally bankrupt, contrary to the values that made American education great, and a corrosive influence on our campuses. On Sunday morning, college presidents across the country woke to a new and uncertain world.

How did things change so fast? As Harvard and MIT twist in the throes of anti-administration protests not seen since the 1960s, Penn blazed a speedy path forward in university regime change. From what insiders have told me about the internal process there, the rising public pressure disquieted normally complacent trustees to the point that a critical mass swung over to the opposition. This dramatic turn was no small achievement. As I wrote last week, university trustees have every incentive to keep their heads down and mouths shut, no matter what leftist administrators might do. As recently as September, multiple Penn trustees were reportedly threatened with dismissal from the board and effectively silenced after objecting to a radical pro-Palestinian campus literary festival.

If things have changed, it is because enough Penn trustees reasoned in the 48 hours between their Thursday telephone meeting and Magill’s Saturday afternoon resignation that supporting the status quo is worse for their interests than opposing it—assuming that the trustees desire social circles wider than angry Palestinian activists and scruffy Brooklynites who spend their Saturday nights tearing down posters of Israeli hostages. For that reason alone, Magill had to go.

Sources have revealed that a majority of Penn trustees came to this conclusion by Saturday. Magill may have soberly polled the board and found her position unsustainable if put to a vote, or she may have been told that it was. Bok, the former board chairman, reportedly discussed her future with her late Friday. Sources with knowledge of the matter said that he tied his fate to Magill’s, pledging to resign himself if she were forced out, which he then did. Penn’s board rules apparently include a clause that allows a quorum of five trustees to call for the board to meet in public. Reportedly, the prospect of further humiliation or reputational harm swayed hearts and minds, though sources suggest that Magill decided to resign on her own in tandem with the trustees’ deliberations.

The Penn board gave Magill an easy letdown. She will remain at the university as a tenured professor of constitutional law with an endowed chair, likely with a salary closer to the presidential income she was paid for 18 months than that of a normal faculty member. This may have been her asking price to step down without a fight. Before his own resignation, Bok thanked her for her service and wished her well. Magill released a statement citing the “privilege” and “honor” of having been Penn’s president.

If Magill’s episode tells us anything, it’s that pressure works, even if massive amounts of it are sometimes necessary. Penn’s leadership is now in the hands of an interim president and board chair who are not expected to make sweeping changes to university policy. If the trustees want to be remembered as something other than vain, self-dealing timeservers, they should use their power to appoint new leaders who will root out DEI, enforce campus harassment policies consistently, and restore free standards of responsible academic discourse. If they really want to restore Penn’s reputation, they should act immediately to end the absurd, years-long persecution of Penn law professor Amy Wax, who faces “major sanctions” for having expressed controversial views about race and academic performance. Let’s see if they do it.

Why University Presidents Are (Almost) Never Fired

City JournalEven amid recent events, deferential trustees are likely to keep incumbents in power.

Earlier this week, the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT beclowned themselves before the House education committee, collectively demurring with vacuous appeals to “context” when asked whether calls for the mass killing of a people constitute harassment under their institutional policies.

Their performance has put their future atop their respective organizations in doubt. Harvard alumnus and hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman, who called for major change at his alma mater shortly after Hamas’s brutal attack on Israel in October, has now called for the resignation of all three presidents—Harvard’s Claudine Gay, Penn’s Liz Magill, and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth—“in disgrace.” Ackman tweeted “One down” at media reports of Magill’s possible ouster from Penn, whose alumni have been unusually active in withholding funds and demanding accountability. Within 24 hours of Magill’s disastrous congressional testimony, a Penn donor, Ross L. Stevens of Stone Ridge Asset Management, pulled a $100 million gift from the university.

Elected officials were similarly outraged. Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor Josh Shapiro questioned Magill’s future at Penn, and New York Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand matched Ackman’s call for all three presidents’ resignations. Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband Doug Emhoff denounced the presidents’ “lack of moral clarity.”

Despite the media noise, the truth is that neither the three presidents who embarrassed themselves before Congress nor any other university president is likely to resign or be fired for their conduct. According to a confidential account of an emergency Penn Board of Trustees telephone meeting that was shared with me shortly after it was held on Thursday, only one trustee advanced a motion to change Penn’s leadership, though the board reportedly is contemplating further moves. MIT’s board, meanwhile, has expressed its “full and unreserved support” for Kornbluth, and Harvard’s trustees haven’t moved against Gay, though one member of her newly created anti-Semitism task force is resigning.

How can this be? Don’t trustees have the power to appoint and remove university presidents, who are merely employees? Unless you’re talking about the New College of Florida, whose board, now majority-appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, fired its feckless president earlier this year, don’t bet on it. The system has effectively been reversed, with university administrations now exercising de facto power over their trustees.

Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth cut sorry figures as they cowered before millennial congresswoman (and Harvard alumna) Elise Stefanik in a Capitol Hill committee room. But back on their campuses, they control what trustees see on university policy and operational matters. In my three-year term as a member of a governing board of an American university abroad from 2018 to 2021, for example, I never had any sense from the president about the institution’s problems, student complaints, or the faculty’s concerns. After I tried to learn more, the board did not renew my appointment. I was never told why.

My treatment underscores an important point. Boards are self-perpetuating entities charged with identifying and appointing new members and are subject to rules their members adopt and implement. Potential troublemakers are easily isolated, sidelined, and removed (or not reappointed) under those rules. Even if the board’s rules are misapplied or not applied, no consequences follow. Who would sue over losing a voluntary position through force majeure or administrative sleight of hand, and—at least until now—what publication would care enough to report it?

Boards are even less responsive to trouble. In my 15 years of experience as a faculty member at three universities, I never met with any trustee, save one former board member who was ousted in a manner like my own after publicizing potentially criminal corruption allegations against university administrators. When we professors addressed trustees by letter with our concerns, we never received a response. Some years after I left one of those universities, the faculty did pass a no-confidence motion in an especially inept president. Backed by his loyal board, however, the president completed his term—an emblematic example of trustees’ propensity to vest nearly unlimited trust in higher administrators.

As “educators,” moreover, even highly compromised administrators can feign a moral high ground over the businessmen to whom they nominally answer. When donations are threatened, administrators can insist that “it’s not about the money,” floating the misleading argument that individual donations, even in the eight- or nine-figure range, are not so important where billion-dollar endowments are concerned. As we have seen, it takes a near-Holocaust-level event for that pose to weaken—and even after two months of unremitting controversy, no institution has yet reached a breaking point. “If the exodus of their largest donors and bad publicity over the past few months did not cause their trustees to act, then we should think about why we expect them to be fired now,” said Adrienne Price, a Penn graduate who is active in alumni affairs. Removing a progressive administrator, she said, “takes the jaws of life.”

It also goes without saying that as women (and in Gay’s case, a minority woman) in liberal professional environments, the three presidents on the ropes before Congress are virtually immune to criticism, especially from rich white-male trustees. If any of the three presidents under fire is actually removed, count on a bevy of X posts and mainstream media op-eds denouncing the sexism, racism, and patriarchy supposedly behind their firing.

Trustees with institutional family legacies, no matter how rich and powerful in their normal lives, also have an incentive to stay quiet. Speaking out may imperil those trustees’ younger relatives and protégés’ ability to get admitted to the schools in question. While financial heft can certainly smooth the path to elite university admission, until the golden letter arrives, family members have every reason to avoid controversy, even if it means failing to do their jobs as trustees.

Finally, inertia takes a terrible toll on university boards. University committee work is grueling and unrewarding, and volunteer trustees cannot be dragooned into doing it—as young faculty members can be, as a condition of career advancement. Trustees live busy personal and professional lives and would need to invest enormous time and energy to fix what is wrong. Replacing a university president does not simply involve firing an objectionable incumbent but entails up to a year-long process, involving candidate review, interviews, meetings, due diligence, public relations, and compliance.

Reforming our failing educational institutions is going to require a major effort. The real fix will arrive only when trustees—who, despite it all, still do hold the power—finally leave their comfort zones, act on what is right rather than convenient, and put in the work. The trustees of DeSantis’s New College do this, and they have been rewarded with death threats, professional denunciations, national media castigation, and a need for security details to escort them to meetings—all because of the changes they have made to institutional policies at a small liberal-arts college where they have the undisputed authority to act. And yet, these trustees have persevered and are fundamentally transforming their institution for the better. As university trustees around the country contemplate their next moves, New College is the model they should look to.

Well, Excuse Me

City JournalYou can still buy Steve Martin’s sexually explicit novel in Florida—you just can’t put it in elementary schools.

“So proud to have my book Shopgirl banned in Collier County, Florida! Now people who want to read it will have to buy a copy!” proclaimed comedian Steve Martin on his Facebook and Instagram pages on November 6. Martin’s post refers to a Florida county’s apparent removal of his debut novella Shopgirl (2001) from its public school libraries.

One might ask how people can buy a book if it has, indeed, been “banned,” or, conversely, how a “banned” book can legally remain available to “people who want to read it.” Surely a man of the sophistication that Steve Martin imprints on many of his characters would realize the illogic of his statement. After all, could Germans of the 1930s buy books banned by the Nazis? Can Ukrainians in the latter half of 2023 buy Russian and Belorussian books? Are liberal American authorities who remove Huckleberry Finn from school libraries, forbid Confederate symbols, or prohibit screenings of Gone With The Wind or Blazing Saddles “banning” those works?

The plain fact is that neither the State of Florida nor any of its 67 counties bans books. Collier County authorities reportedly decided to take Martin’s Shopgirl out of school-age public-education environments because it contains graphic sex scenes, which as of July 1 are prohibited under Florida House Bill 1069. That law, passed by large majorities in both houses of Florida’s state legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, “requires the suspension of materials alleged to contain pornography or obscene depictions of sexual conduct, as identified in current law” from public schools.

That is a far cry from a “ban” on such material, but unfortunately for Steve Martin’s prospective sales, no Florida law prohibits such materials in any other environment or institution. If Collier County fifth-graders really want to read a story about a rich-but-insecure West Coast Baby Boomer’s relationship with a much younger woman, who predictably ends up with a doofus her own age, they can do so via any bookstore, online media seller, public library, college library, neighborhood book exchange, or older relative who thinks kids might welcome a break from soccer to explore Martin’s tragicomic tropes. That’s all perfectly legal. Collier’s public school students can also freely watch the cringeworthy 2005 film version of Martin’s novella, which stars—surprise, surprise—Martin himself as the clueless Boomer and a young Claire Danes as the girl.

Nevertheless, in a country where many buy into false mainstream-media reportage that Florida bans books, Martin’s mocking social-media posts received a combined 89,000 likes and thousands of comments castigating the supposedly hidebound Sunshine State. One wonders how Martin’s supporters feel about speech codes in American schools, which routinely and legally prohibit obscenity, profanity, harassment, discriminatory speech, school-sanctioned prayer, and, indeed, sexualized language. Apparently, they think B-grade sex scenes written by a man who won fame by playing the banjo with a fake arrow through his head deserve loftier consideration.

Those and other critics of Florida’s supposed book bans often cite data from PEN America, a New York-based nonprofit that claims to stand “at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide.” PEN’s June 2023 report, “Banned in the USA: The Mounting Pressure to Censor,” claims that since July 1, 2022, 3,362 “book bans” have taken place nationally, involving more than 1,500 books. PEN claims that more than 40 percent of these have occurred in Florida. The report warns of a “growing climate of censorship” caused by “coordinated campaigns by a vocal minority of groups and individual actors and, increasingly, as a result of pressure from state legislation.” It does not mention that PEN Ukraine, a partner organization within the PEN International network, endorsed the actual ban of Russian and Belorussian books passed earlier this year by the Ukrainian government, where it is now illegal to import and distribute such books.

As our culture wars rage over the meaning of words, what constitutes a ban is up for grabs. For the radical Left, a ban is any infringement on the expression of its favored ideologies, including the sexualization of small children in public schools in states whose democratically elected representatives have voted to disallow it by law. At the same time, however, actual and far-reaching legal prohibitions of materials that offend leftist ideologies are not bans at all but praiseworthy exercises promoting diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Only a wild and crazy guy could fail to see the hypocrisy, but caprice of this level might not have been seen since the days of . . . King Tut.

Mayor Adams Goes DeSantis

City JournalNew York is now offering illegal immigrants a free one-way flight out of town.

America’s border crisis is so vast that even New York City mayor Eric Adams admits it’s a problem. In January, Adams announced that the migrants taking refuge in his city, which boasts a universal but increasingly theoretical “right to shelter,” were straining its resources to the breaking point. By September, Adams said that the spiraling costs “will destroy New York City.” By the end of that month, more than 130,000 migrants had reportedly arrived in Gotham, nearly three times the number tallied this past spring. Some 65,000 are staying in city-operated shelters. Adams estimates that caring for current migrants alone will cost $4.7 billion next year and $6.1 billion in 2025. “Our compassion may be limitless, but our resources are not,” the beleaguered mayor lamented in August.

Adams has tried to manage the flow of migrants. Since the early days of the crisis, he has been settling them into underoccupied hotels in and beyond the city limits. He has broken Democratic Party unity to implore the Biden administration to control the southern border. He has called on American municipalities big and small to accept more migrants and thus relieve the pressure on New York. He has housed migrants in schools, soccer fields, and places of worship. He has offered migrants free bus tickets to Canada. He has limited individual migrants to 30 days in city shelters and migrant families to 60 days. Last month, Adams traveled to Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador, where he urged their impoverished populations not to come to New York City. He has suggested quartering migrants in private apartments. Currently, New York’s radical left city council is debating a measure to permit migrants to create encampments on public land, much as homeless Californians so colorfully do on the streets of that state’s once-proud cities.

None of these desperate moves has allowed the city to keep up with the pace of new arrivals. The migrants continue to arrive at an estimated rate of 4,000 per week, egged on after years of hearing city officials boast about New York’s culture of inclusiveness and belonging.

More recently, Adams implemented what much of the media has received as a new idea and quietly accepted as unavoidable. Starting at the end of October, migrants hoping to make a brand-new start in old New York can be directed to a city-operated “re-ticketing” center located in an abandoned East Village Catholic school, where officials will book them one-way flights to anywhere in the world. “We have established a re-ticketing center for migrants,” City Hall spokesperson Kayla Mamelak announced. “Here, the city will redouble efforts to purchase tickets for migrants to help them take the next steps in their journeys.” The re-ticketing center has reportedly posted notifications in English, Spanish, Arabic, French, and Russian informing visitors that no housing facilities are available on the site, but that “we are here to help you get to transportation to any state, or country of your convenience.”

The idea would sound outlandish if we did not live in a country of surreal double standards. Just over a year ago, the media and many Democrats blasted Florida governor and current Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis for flying 49 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, an affluent island community and “sanctuary destination” in Massachusetts, whose overwhelmingly liberal residents promptly declared that they did not have the resources to support the newcomers and, after about 36 hours of self-congratulatory tolerance, happily stood by as the National Guard removed them to a mainland military base. DeSantis was denounced as a monster, investigated by Javier Salazar, the Democratic sheriff of Texas’s Bexar County, and referred for prosecution on criminal charges of “unlawful restraint.” As recently as last month, Salazar told 60 Minutes that he is still investigating the Martha’s Vineyard case.

Adams is receiving no such scrutiny, even after news reports revealed that, from April 2022 to April 2023, he spent some $50,000 in city funds to fly 114 migrant households to other jurisdictions, including 28 families (the largest number in the group) who were flown to DeSantis’s Florida and another 14 who were sent to Texas.

Unencumbered by media opprobrium or criminal investigations, Adams’s new initiative seems primed to work on a much larger scale than that of DeSantis. Hypocrisy aside, from a fiscal perspective it does make sense for cash-strapped New York, which currently spends $394 per migrant per day on government aid. The average price of a one-way, economy-class domestic plane ticket in the first quarter of 2023, by comparison, was $382. Norse Atlantic Airways, a new international discount airline, currently offers one-way flights from New York to London for just $431. Migrants who have visited the re-ticketing office have reportedly taken advantage of the new policy to fly as far away as Morocco and China, but the fact remains that any migrant making use of the service will cost the city the same amount it spends on them over the course of a day or two.

Has New York suddenly discovered fiscal prudence? “It’s a smart, cost-effective way of getting a win-win,” Adams said of his policy with the slick delivery of a fresh-faced McKinsey consultant. “You go to the destination you want, and taxpayers are not keeping up the tab for [you].” City officials claim that one in four migrants has requested the service after arriving in the Big Apple and hearing that there is no room for them. Perhaps dealing with the harsh budget realities that their policies have created may soon help New York’s mandarins find a way to lure back the hundreds of thousands of former residents who now call elsewhere home. Spirit Airlines is currently offering one-way flights from West Palm Beach to LaGuardia for just $69. Well, pricing follows demand.

Diminished Prestige

City JournalPresident Biden has been solid, so far, in pledging support for Israel, but a long trail of bad policies has weakened the American hand in the Middle East.

“We’re the United States of America, for God’s sake!” an exasperated President Biden told 60 Minutes the day after Hamas’s horrific attacks on Israel. “We’re the most powerful nation in the history, not in the world, in the history of the world,” Biden stumbled along, “We are the essential nation . . . and if we don’t [support Israel and Ukraine], who does?”

In the Middle East last week, Biden’s self-regard fell on deaf ears when Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas unceremoniously withdrew from a planned summit with Arab leaders and the U.S. president, leading the Jordanians to cancel the meeting just hours later. Abbas’s pretext for withdrawing was the explosion at the Al Ahli Hospital, a Christian facility in Gaza heavily damaged from what evidence now suggests was Hamas’s friendly fire. The Arab street and international media, however, widely blamed Israel—and, by proxy, the United States—for the incident. The cancelled summit followed a listening tour of Middle Eastern capitals by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. After being snubbed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who made him wait for hours before postponing their meeting, Blinken ended his stop in Cairo with the uninspiring announcement, “I heard a lot of good ideas about some of the things we need to do.” Like a spurned schoolboy, Blinken reportedly called Abbas to “express profound condolences for the civilian lives lost in the explosion,” and Biden also called the Palestinian president, but no plans have been announced to reschedule the summit.

While considerable anger persists throughout the Muslim world, this is the first time in history that foreign leaders have cancelled a summit meeting with the president of the United States. Not even during the worst moments of the Cold War has international esteem for Washington’s position and potential role in resolving international conflict fallen so low. To Arab potentates, America under Joe Biden appears to be a non-essential, and even dispensable, nation, little respected and certainly not feared.

Biden entered office in 2021 committed not just to a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan, but to reinstating Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which essentially paid that country’s anti-American Islamist regime billions to delay, but not cancel, its plan to acquire nuclear weapons. The deal’s proponents hoped it would lull Iran into regional restraint and convince the country to respect Washington’s so-called rules-based international order.

Tehran’s response to these overtures has been to exploit Washington’s lack of resolve. It has rushed more money and weapons to its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon, where Hamas’s attack is widely believed to have been planned and approved with decisive Iranian participation. Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati, whose government relies on Hezbollah and allied parties, said on television last week that he opposes entering the war, but lamented that he has received no assurances that Lebanon will be kept out of it, and added that he has no power to prevent it from happening. Since Biden’s return to an appeasement policy vis-à-vis Tehran, the Iranian regime has created a similar patron-client relationship with Hamas, which now receives an estimated 93 percent of its support from Iran despite the once-unbridgeable Shia/Sunni sectarian divide, putting Israel in a potential two-front conflict.

Until last month, the Iranian regime also held imprisoned American citizens, essentially as hostages. Biden’s response has inspired little confidence. To secure the release of just five individuals, the administration agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets for what it insisted would be “humanitarian” purposes. The money was held by the Central Bank of Qatar and subject to monitoring—it now cannot be accessed by the Iranians—but to an observer with even a rudimentary understanding of financial economics, releasing the funds substantially boosted Iran’s fungible resources, just weeks before its new Palestinian clients launched their bloody attack.

Meantime, Arab observers of the American street watch with satisfaction as leftist mass protests in favor of the Palestinian cause beset most major American cities—and the Capitol itself—while our uniformly pro-Biden elite institutions equivocate over how to respond to Hamas’s attack without offending terrorist sympathizers.

Biden skipped an unreceptive Amman for Tel Aviv, where he pledged full support to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while simultaneously urging him to act with restraint. Last Thursday, after returning to Washington, Biden gave a strong and well received televised address promising Israel “unprecedented” military support, to be advanced in an emergency $105 billion bill that will also provide additional support to Ukraine. U.S. military deployments in the Eastern Mediterranean since Hamas’s attack are impressive and may have some deterrent power against Arab aggressors while also mollifying Israel. At the same time, however, Biden renewed U.S. support for Palestinian self-determination, following on his promise of another $100 million in humanitarian aid despite Hamas’s murder of least 31 Americans in its attack last week and continuing detention of another 11 as hostages. The volume of American support will command Israeli attention for the foreseeable future, but how restrained Israel will be—and can afford to be—remains to be seen.

How Joe Biden Brought the World to the Brink: A Strategic Assessment

The European Conservative – At home, Biden is unpopular, assailed by legal difficulties, and widely regarded as too physically and mentally incompetent to do his job.

“I have been doing this for a long time. I never thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children,” said a nonplussed U.S. President Joe Biden of reports from the horrific Hamas attacks on Israel. Spokesmen later clarified that Biden had not seen the pictures in question, but numerous media outlets have confirmed these atrocities and, in some cases, reprinted the photos.

At best, Biden sounded naïve, particularly in the wider context of his administration’s catastrophic foreign policy. In many ways, it was his poor leadership in this area that allowed the current crisis to unfold.

By way of overview, it is instructive to go back to the chaotic first months after Biden entered office. After several steps that appeared to continue former President Donald J. Trump’s policies, and alongside a strong bipartisan emphasis on containing China, Biden abruptly accelerated the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pro-Biden military and foreign policy leaders, who called themselves “the adults in the room,” assured the new president that Afghanistan’s government and U.S.-equipped military could hold their own against the Taliban. Without much effort to verify those assurances, Biden announced the U.S. military withdrawal before the Afghans were prepared to resist on their own, and indeed even before the U.S. civilian withdrawal.

In the chaos that followed, desperate Afghans crowded into and around the U.S.-held airport in Kabul, hoping for rescue. Some made it out, but many others died trying or were simply abandoned, often to brutal fates as the Taliban took retribution on Afghans who had worked for the Americans. Thirteen U.S. Marines were killed while holding positions. Deserted by their government, hundreds of U.S. citizens went underground or improvised their own exits. Worst of all, the Afghan army folded in a matter of days, leaving an estimated $85 billion worth of top-line U.S. conventional military equipment to the Taliban and whatever terrorist groups might have purchased the weapons since or may do so in the future.

As breathtakingly bad as the Afghan fiasco was, American voters, who rate foreign policy low among their priorities, quickly forgot about it while the regime media repeated the mantra that withdrawal, while inelegant, was nevertheless necessary.

The rest of the world drew a radically different conclusion: that Biden’s resolve was far weaker than Trump’s, who had stabilized Afghanistan without a single loss of American life in the final 18 months of his presidency. Instead, Biden’s approach to foreign policy recalled the leadership of former President Barack Obama, whom Biden served as vice president and whose administration employed much of Biden’s foreign policy team earlier in their careers. Just six months after Afghanistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his ill-fated war against Ukraine. Encouraged by the posturing of a weak Biden administration, including even a foolish direct statement by Biden that the United States would not react to counter Russian aggression, Putin had nothing to fear.

While the war has gone badly for Russia, the Kremlin’s strategic calculation that it would encounter no military resistance from the U.S.-led West was an entirely rational assessment of Biden’s failure elsewhere on the Eurasian periphery. It even had a precedent. Putin’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, which Obama did nothing to stop, came an identical six months after Obama failed to enforce a much-vaunted “red line” in Syria’s civil conflict, whereby the U.S. president had promised military intervention if Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against domestic insurgents. Obama’s failure to enforce that prohibition informed Putin that he could act without military consequences to seize Crimea and support pro-Russian independence movements in the Donbas.

Instructively, the Trump presidency successfully deterred Moscow by cajoling European NATO members into committing to higher defense spending, withdrawing from Cold War-era arms control deals that no longer served American interests, providing lethal military equipment to Ukraine for the first time, imposing sanctions on Russia to their highest level before the present war, and informing Moscow that further aggression against Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences.

Trump’s tough approach also worked with Iran. Trump wisely abandoned an Obama-era deal that essentially paid Tehran to delay its nuclear program for an estimated decade but not stop it. Trump increased military and diplomatic support for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other traditional American regional allies that had been or have emerged as Iran’s antagonists. He obliterated ISIS, neutralized Iranian military assets in Iraq, and presided over U.S. energy independence for the first time since the 1940s. In arguably the most underappreciated achievement of his presidency, Trump ignored a longstanding but misguided Washington consensus that tied the resolution of all Middle East questions to a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Via the Abraham Accords, he successfully ignored that issue and brokered the first peace deals between Israel and majority Muslim countries since 1994.

Biden reversed all of these positions. He clamped down on domestic energy production to satisfy radical leftist environmental demands, which inexcusably returned the U.S. economy to dependence on Middle Eastern oil and caused energy prices and inflation to spike in an anemic post-COVID economy. He antagonized regional American allies by predicating arms and investment deals on unrealistic human rights demands and other intangibles, thereby driving them into the arms of Russia and China, which proclaimed themselves “unlimited” allies, included Iran in a de facto tripartite anti-American alliance, and steadily lured dozens of developing world economies into their orbit.

At home, Biden is unpopular, assailed by legal difficulties, widely regarded as too physically and mentally incompetent to do his job, and likely to lose reelection—probably to a resurgent Trump—in 2024. He presides over a southern border that is largely out of government control as millions of foreign citizens unlawfully enter the United States, undermining confidence and straining resources. This both contributes to and is a symptom of a bitterly polarized society in which Biden’s side of the divide advocates Marxist-inspired dogma that most of the rest of the world finds baffling, bemusing, and emasculating and that his domestic opponents regard as either stupidity or treason.

Declining American resolve has emboldened Chinese aggression in the Far East, removed any deterring effects from regional conflicts flaring in places that were until recently stable, and caused European allies to entertain moving to a middle place in an emerging global conflict. International institutions that were founded to manage or lessen global conflict have become less and less effective without firm American leadership, and most seem doomed to irrelevance at best and active resistance at worst.

Worst of all, Biden restored the bad nuclear deal with Iran, thereby emboldening Tehran to delay but not cancel its nuclear weapons program, increase its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, cultivate a similar patron-client relationship with Hamas in Gaza, and support other anti-American governments and movements in the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, and even Latin America.

Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as intelligence sources cited by the U.S. media, all corroborate that Iran played an essential role in the planning and execution of the recent attacks on Israel, which killed over 1,200 people and injured thousands more. Iran’s parliament leapt to its feet to chant “Death to America” (not just Israel) when news of the attack came their way.

Just last month, the U.S. released $6 billion in Iranian assets to secure the release of only five prisoners held by Iran. When the war in Gaza broke out several weeks later, the embarrassed Biden administration went into high-energy damage control, arguing that the funds are only for humanitarian use and that they have not been and cannot be used for other purposes. This did not match Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s claim that he would use the money however he pleases. Nor does it account for Iran’s knowing full well that if $6 billion is restored to its control, that money is fungible and could be used for agreed-upon needs while freeing up other funds for military and terrorist purposes.

As of Friday, reports confirmed that U.S. pressure caused the Central Bank of Qatar, which had agreed to monitor the released funds, to rescind Iran’s access to them. The damage, however, is done. Under Biden, and unfortunately for the people of Israel, real and perceived American weakness has led to outrage after outrage, invasion after invasion, and problem after problem. A firmer president can and will take over one day. A stronger defense of American interests—at home and abroad—could undo Biden’s failed legacy. But that next president will need iron resolve to clean up his mess.

Harvard’s Horror

The statement from student groups blaming Israel for the Hamas attacks will further erode the university’s stature, and deservedly so.

City Journal – “In nearly 50 years of @Harvard affiliation, I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today,” tweeted Harvard professor and former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers on October 9, when he learned that 34 Harvard student organizations had signed a statement saying that they “hold the Israeli regime responsible for all unfolding violence” in the Middle East and added that Israel “is the only one to blame.” The students’ statement was a direct response to Hamas’s murderous attack on Israeli civilians the day before, which has claimed more than 1,000 civilian lives, injured many more, and saw some 150 Israeli hostages carried off into captivity.

Presumably, Summers felt even worse than he did on February 21, 2006, when he was literally “alienated” from his post as Harvard’s president, resigning amid criticism for having suggested that women inherently might have less scientific aptitude than men. Summers apologized for those remarks, which he made based on empirical data that he said he hoped would be disproved. That did not save him from Harvard’s social-justice warriors, including a majority of Harvard’s faculty, who voted no confidence in his leadership. Instead, Summers’ downfall emboldened his critics, and led him and his successors to make identity politics central to Harvard’s mission.

More than a decade and a half later, only Summers can say whether he is truly surprised that hundreds of Harvard students would blame Israeli children, babies, grandmothers, and hundreds of others—among them at least 14 Americans now confirmed dead—for their own murders, injuries, and kidnappings. Despite his stated outrage, Summers has shown no interest in ending his affiliation with Harvard, as a principled person with such sentiments and bearing some responsibility for the climate at the school might have done.

Current Harvard president Claudine Gay confirmed that such statements are acceptable at what supposedly is the nation’s most prestigious university. Writing after 48 hours of silence, she declared that “our students have the right to speak for themselves,” even if “no student group—not even 30 student groups—speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”

After massive public criticism, including from many Harvard affiliates, Gay amended her statement to declare, “I condemn the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.” She nevertheless qualified her condemnation of Hamas’s “abhorrent” actions, leaving space and consideration for “whatever one’s individual views of the origins of longstanding conflicts in the [Middle East] region” might be. Harvard’s best purpose, Gay continued, would “be well served in such a difficult moment by rhetoric that aims to illuminate and not inflame. . . . I appeal to all of us in this community of learning to keep this in mind as our conversations continue.”

“Conversations” in Gay’s “community of learning” will not bring back the dead, defang Hamas’s genocidal ideology, or ensure the safety of Jewish members of the Harvard community. Her muddled words are a far cry from her reaction just three years ago to the death of George Floyd, when, serving as dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, she expressed her “pain and horror” in a highly emotional public statement demanding “resolve and a new sense of urgency” to “create a better world.” Nor does it match her immediate predecessor Lawrence Bacow’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just last year, in which he praised those in the Harvard community who “spoke clearly and forcefully against the crisis,” personally called for Ukraine’s “liberation,” and pledged that “Harvard stands with the people of Ukraine.”

To its shame, Harvard apparently does not stand with the people of Israel. Gay’s pro forma condemnation of Hamas notwithstanding, she has not condemned the student groups that signed the letter or the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, which authored it. And even in a university climate overrun with linguistic policing of “harmful” speech, don’t expect Gay to point out how Harvard’s own anti-discrimination policies prohibit action that is “so severe or pervasive, and objectively offensive, that it creates a work, educational, or living environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive and denies the individual an equal opportunity to participate in the benefits of the workplace or the institution’s programs and activities.” Blanket statements that victims of terrorism are responsible for their fate based on their religion or nationality might fit such a definition.

Of course, nothing in Harvard’s statements indicates that the university would invoke these policies against these students. Certainly not as it did when acting against, say, prize-winning Harvard economist and Manhattan Institute fellow Roland Fryer, who in 2019 was suspended without pay for two years and lost his university research lab because he allegedly told sexual jokes that female subordinates found “harassing.” Those sanctions were imposed over a preliminary recommendation that Fryer be required to attend sensitivity training. The committee that imposed the harsher punishment included Claudine Gay, and it’s possible, given the committee’s ideological bent, that Fryer’s most notable research finding—that race-based police brutality statistics favored by the radical Left are overstated—contributed to his punishment.

In any case, the student groups’ disgraceful statement casts further doubt on the value of a Harvard degree, and the damage will likely have real-world consequences. Hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman, a Harvard alumnus, publicly requested the names of Harvard students belonging to the organizations that signed the letter, so that he and finance-industry colleagues would make sure not to hire them, even “inadvertently.” Several websites have posted those lists with full names, addresses, majors, and social-media information, in the apparent hope that the students will be held accountable in public life, even if they can stroll Harvard Yard defending the victimization of Israeli Jews.

If Harvard students have nothing to fear from the selectively censorious Claudine Gay, the broader consequences are beginning to scare them. As of this writing, at least four of the organizations have withdrawn their signatures, with at least one apologizing for having signed the letter in the first place. Their dissociating themselves from terrorism, even if under pressure, is welcome and should be encouraged. But the free market will be the eventual arbiter of consequences. Some, like Ackman, who object to what Harvard teaches and the climate that it fosters may choose not to hire its graduates—and make the academic world tremble by saying so. Students objecting to what Harvard’s hopeless administrators preach don’t have to enroll there. Parents worried about their children’s education don’t have to send them to Cambridge. Harvard alums astonished at the evil that has befallen their alma mater can stop donating to it—and tell the alumni office why. Most of all, Harvard trustees can speak up to remove the odious administrators they have so unwisely placed in charge of an institution they presumably love and do the hard work it will take to clean up the mess.

Georgetown’s Guilt-Industrial Complex

At the Jesuit university, contrition for slavery is an expensive and ongoing task.

City Journal – Last month, Georgetown University and the Jesuit order agreed to hand over $27 million to the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Trust, a nonprofit that claims to benefit the progeny of slaves owned by U.S. Catholic institutions. The trust was founded in 2021 and initially chaired by Joseph M. Stewart, who claims descent from one of the 272 slaves that Maryland’s provincial branch of the Jesuit order sold in 1838 to save Georgetown University from insolvency. Broken into a $10 million payment from Georgetown and $17 million from the Jesuits, the gift nearly triples the trust’s holdings, from $15 million to $42 million. The trust says that it plans to offer educational scholarships, medical grants, and unspecified programs in “truth” and “healing.”

More than 13,000 people now claim descent from the 272 slaves sold 185 years ago—more than double the 5,000 identified in the media as recently as March 2022. The figure is likely to keep rising.

Georgetown has been busy atoning for slavery-related sins for years. In 2016, the university promised to apologize for its participation in the slave trade (which it did the following year), grant preferential university admission to slave descendants (some of whom have since enrolled), and name buildings after and erect a memorial in honor of the slaves. In 2017, the university announced that it was removing from two buildings the names of Jesuit clerics who had facilitated the slave transaction. The school renamed one building for the first slave listed on the 1838 bill of sale and the other for a nineteenth-century black woman educator.

In 2019, Georgetown students voted in favor of a non-binding campus resolution to add a symbolic $27.20 fee to their semesterly tuition payments to raise funds for slave descendants. In 2020, the university adopted Juneteenth as an official holiday a year ahead of its congressional recognition. In 2021, Georgetown’s prestigious School of Foreign Service adopted “anti-racism” as a “central pillar of its mission.” That same year, Georgetown’s law school fired adjunct professor Sandra A. Sellers for lamenting in a private Zoom conversation that her black students performed worse than did her white students. Her interlocutor and fellow adjunct professor David C. Batson, who remained silent during the conversation, resigned amid criticism that he had failed to object.

In 2022, Georgetown Law placed constitutional scholar (and current Manhattan Institute senior fellow) Ilya Shapiro under two lengthy investigations before he even began his job at the school after he tweeted his opinion that future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had been nominated over more qualified candidates because she was a black woman. Shapiro was cleared of wrongdoing but resigned, saying that he would be unable to work effectively in conditions infused with such racialism.

In October 2022, Georgetown announced that it would raise funds to disburse $400,000 per year via a “reconciliation fund” intended to support public-service projects in communities where the slave descendants currently live.

Georgetown’s Office of Student Equity and Inclusion (OSEI), all of whose website-listed employees are black, maintains a 14-page list of resources addressing a wide variety of exclusively black interests, concerns, and services. It includes links to Black Lives Matter and similar radical organizations widely accused of corruption; to the error-ridden 1619 Project and other dubious historical sources; to documents OSEI describes as “police abolition education materials”; to donation sites providing bail funds to individuals arrested for violent crimes; and to websites that instruct viewers how to protest. Georgetown apparently publishes no list of resources for white students.

Virtually all the university’s divisions and departments publicize their unquestioning commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), racialist concepts that the OSEI claims are “essential aspects of Georgetown’s mission and identity.” No such claim was made at any time from the university’s founding in 1789 until only a few years ago, however. “I am personally counting on all administrators, faculty, staff and students to provide enlightened leadership and cooperation in support of diversity, equity, and affirmative action,” Georgetown president John J. DeGioia is quoted as saying on the university website, though race-based affirmative action in both employment and admissions is now illegal. Following this summer’s Supreme Court decision barring the consideration of race in college admissions, I wrote DeGioia, hoping that he would announce the abolition of all race-based procedures and programs at Georgetown and declare that he regarded academic and professional discussions of race as constitutionally protected free speech. He did not reply.

If Georgetown’s commitment to racial justice seems overwrought, don’t tell that to the slave descendants and their supporters, who have steadily increased their demands as they seek an eventual $1 billion in donations and other forms of contrition. “There is so much more the university has to do,” says Julia Thomas, a Georgetown undergraduate who claims descent from the original slaves and is active in a student organization called Hoyas for Slavery Accountability. She wrote in a November 2022 issue of the student newspaper that the school’s reconciliation fund is “insufficient” and “not reparative justice” because the $27.20 slavery fee voted by students in 2019 had not been made mandatory. Her fellow activist Olivia Henry lamented that the fee was “genuinely meant to be a symbolic thing of students saying we want to increase our tuition so that it is known by all students and all university faculty that students are invested in financial reparations.” Apparently, this verbose young Hoya would also demand higher tuition for fellow students who object to the fee; those whose ancestors never owned slaves; whose families immigrated to the United States in the 158 years since slavery was abolished; and Georgetown’s many international students, who, according to the university’s website, hail from 166 foreign countries, each of which had little or nothing to do with American slavery. Presumably, she would also bill Hoyas whose ancestors were among the 600,000 almost entirely white combatants who died in the Civil War, which, as prize-winning Georgetown history professor Chandra Manning has convincingly argued, was largely fought over slavery.

These embittered Georgetown students are further miffed that the reconciliation fund will be administered by a student committee in tandem with slave descendants’ representatives, and not directly by Georgetown’s administration, which they accuse of trying to avoid responsibility. As Henry put it, “the university can use students as a scapegoat if any of these organizations [receiving fund largesse] turn out to not benefit descendant communities and cause harm.” (Isn’t it easy to imagine, though, that if the Georgetown administration were put in charge of the fund, the students would object?)

Student critics are also up in arms about the administration’s failure to rename another prominent campus building, Gaston Hall. Its namesake William Gaston was Georgetown’s first enrolled student; later in life, he urged the abolition of slavery. Inconveniently, however, he owned more slaves than originally thought and, as a North Carolina state supreme court justice, he issued procedural rulings believed to have disadvantaged slaves. “This is a continuation of Georgetown’s commitment to white supremacy,” claimed Kessley Janvier, another angry young Hoya.

It is probably only a matter of time before Janvier realizes that Georgetown’s name comes from its surrounding neighborhood, named for King George II of England, who reigned over the Atlantic slave trade for 33 years; that she studies in Washington, a city named for a slaveowner who owned more slaves than Gaston; and that Washington itself is located in the District of Columbia, named after no less villainous a European slaver than Christopher Columbus. She may also learn one day that the gray in Georgetown’s blue-and-gray color scheme is in fact Confederate Gray, adopted along with Union Blue by the school’s boating team in 1876 to foster the very reconciliation that slave descendants now say can only be achieved with receipt of a ten-figure sum.

Janvier’s college years sound like much less fun than the ones I enjoyed at Georgetown. But before you waste $81,515 per year instilling racial guilt in your children in a decaying city with a per capita crime rate twice that of New York’s, let me point out that the University of Florida now slots only two places below Georgetown in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, charges a fraction of its tuition, has a much higher acceptance rate, and will soon be DEI-free under state law. The weather is better, too.

Biden Strikes Out at the UN

The EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVE – “Simply put, the 21st century … the 21st century results … are badly needed … are needed … to move us along,” cryptically stated President Joe Biden in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19. A week before, at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, Biden made a number of verbal gaffes before his press secretary declared—while the president was still mid-sentence—that his address was over and cued music to usher him off the stage.

If Biden’s puzzling words make little sense beyond evidencing his widely suspected cognitive decline, whatever he had to say was of little importance to much of the world. Although New York City’s decaying infrastructure suffered as ever under the weight of the annual event’s intense diplomatic traffic, 48 national leaders skipped this year’s General Assembly meeting. The absentees included the chief executives of all four other permanent members of the UN Security Council—Russia, China, Britain, and France—as well as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who presides over the world’s most populous country. The mass absenteeism was notable enough to make it into UN Secretary General António Guterres’s press conference, where he acknowledged “symptoms” of a recently theorized “great fracture” that could see global institutions recede in favor of a multiplicity of rival economic and political blocs. Former president and current 2024 Republican front runner Donald J. Trump lost no time criticizing his once and near-certain future opponent: “Biden just finished his surrender (‘speech’) at the United Nations,” he almost immediately posted on his Truth Social platform, “and nobody, despite all we give them, showed up. No respect for America any longer!”

Guterres maintained that the UN is “not yet in an irreversible situation,” but Biden very well may be. A CNN poll released in early September found that some 70% of Americans do not believe he is either physically or mentally fit to serve in office. A staggering 82%—including 67% of Democrats—would prefer he not run for reelection. The day before Biden’s UN speech, Congressional Republicans launched an official impeachment inquiry, with hearings to begin next week in a process that will ultimately determine whether he should be convicted of a crime and removed from office. The previous week Biden’s troubled son Hunter was indicted on three counts relating to purchasing and possessing a firearm while actively using illegal narcotics—felony charges ancillary to a much larger investigation of alleged financial misdeeds that could also ensnare the president in serious criminal prosecution. Biden’s approval rating is among the lowest of any president in modern times, with especially low numbers on the economy, which is the most important issue for American voters. Many polls show him losing to Trump in 2024, despite the former president’s own major difficulties, and to several other Republican contenders.
Impaired and imperiled, Biden is now in his ninth decade with a world understandably wondering if he will survive—politically or at all. His UN speech was no rousing turnabout or reclamation of American world leadership. Apart from typical globalist platitudes about climate change, education, health care, and international cooperation, its main point was to try to rally international support for Ukraine, now 19 months deep into a war with Russia that neither side can win in any foreseeable circumstances. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who attended this year’s General Assembly session and will also visit Washington to lobby for yet more American support, looked on expectantly as Biden asked “is the independence of any nation secure” if “we allow Ukraine to be carved up?” Citizens of Libya, Yemen, or Sudan could rightly ask if the sample principle applies to their countries, but Biden also confusingly called on the international community to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict. This has been the likeliest outcome since Day 1, but Zelensky, enjoying a steady flow of American support, says he will not entertain such a settlement unless Russia agrees to a full evacuation of all occupied territories—including Crimea and the Donbas, lost in 2014—and Russia’s more recent conquests, which Ukraine has no realistic chance of reclaiming through military means. As summer passed, a much-vaunted Ukrainian offensive to dislodge Russian positions went nowhere, while Russia has crushed internal opposition, intensified missile attacks on Ukrainian targets, ended deals to allow for the export of Ukrainian grain, taken measures to address its troubled military logistics, and shored up its isolated and heavily sanctioned economy. These measures are unlikely to bring Moscow victory, but they will make it considerably harder for Kyiv to realize peace on Zelensky’s current terms.

At a NATO summit in Lithuania in July, Biden pledged to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” Like most aspects of his administration, including Biden himself, his people are sick and tired of it. According to a poll taken that month, a majority of Americans believe their country “has already done enough” to help Ukraine, compared to 62% who wanted it to do more in the days after the conflict began. In the intervening time, according to estimates from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) based on U.S. budget figures, Washington has spent $111 billion in taxpayer funds to finance a bloody stalemate in a country that more than 80% of Americans could not identify on a map as of last year. Additionally, the U.S. has neither an alliance commitment or, arguably, any strategic interests at stake. In August, the Biden administration requested an additional $24 billion for Ukraine in a supplementary budget bill that Congress is expected to pass despite mounting opposition in both Washington and the country at large to unlimited funds and another “forever war.” Some 55% of Americans opposed the additional funds in August, and signs point to opposition growing as serious questions begin to emerge about where the money is really going. Earlier this month, Zelensky fired Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov amid major corruption allegations. Just one day before Biden’s UN speech, all six of Ukraine’s deputy defense ministers followed Reznikov out the door—fired without official explanation but apparently also in connection with corruption claims.

Not coincidentally, Ukraine is the setting for a significant part of the impeachment investigations Biden et fils now face. In addition to the protracted conflict in that country, Biden’s UN speech riled opposition by failing to mention his own country’s insecure borders, which over the preceding weekend infelicitously witnessed the largest number of contacts with illegal aliens to date. In other news, an F-35 fighter jet valued at $80 to $100 million simply vanished on American soil, while on Sunday General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who gave us the 2021 debacle in Afghanistan, ridiculously wasted an interview with servile establishment television host Fareed Zakaria denying that the U.S. military is ‘woke,’ among other absurdities that could only make Vladimir Putin laugh.

With each embarrassment outdoing the last, the next fourteen months could well overshadow Biden’s lackluster UN performance. In the end, however, it is America and its people who will be diminished.

CRT, DEI Won’t Enhance Public Safety

NEWSMAX– “Racism, hatred and white supremacy aren’t facts of the past, and speaking about these persistent evils in American society isn’t meant to instill guilt or impose a political agenda,” pontificated the editorial board of the leftwing Miami Herald days after deranged 21-year old gunman Ryan Christopher Palmeter murdered three Blacks at a Jacksonville, Florida store before turning the gun on himself on Aug. 26.

Proponents of critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), including their most visible theorist Ibram X. Kendi, may well disagree with the Herald’s editors.

Kendi, whose books are usually included on DEI reading lists in schools, colleges, and universities, argues that all white people — including children and babies — are inherently racists and must be discriminated against to right past and present wrongs.

As the editors barely acknowledge, the evidence suggests that Palmeter was severely mentally ill.

A college dropout who lived with his parents, who are both registered Democrats, in 2017 Palmeter was taken into involuntary state mental health custody under the Baker Act, a Florida state law that allows for the temporary detention of individuals believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

A year earlier, his parents summoned the police when Palmeter got into a violent confrontation with his older brother, who is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for armed robbery.

At the time of the shooting, Palmeter was reportedly in therapy and on medication.

Palmeter apparently left rambling white supremacist writings, but the Herald would like for you to believe that his true inspiration was the recent politics of Florida higher education.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have spent the past two years demonizing an AP Black studies course, scaring parents about critical race theory and painting diversity, equity and inclusion — DEI — as anti-American,” the paper’s editors lamented, in a worrying implication that labeling all of the country’s white citizens “racists” and all of its minorities “victims” is somehow “pro-American.”

There is simply no evidence that any recent legislation regarding race in Florida, which was passed and took effect after Palmeter dropped out of college, inspired him to his evil act.

Chronologically, it could not have been his inspiration any more than it inspired the dramatically worse 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which another severely troubled gunmen killed 17 people, or similar events — including racist incidents — in other states that have not restricted CRT or DEI.

Still less has anyone else among the millions of Floridians who favor the legislation committed any murder believed to have racial motivations.

Even if Palmeter had still been enrolled when the recent Florida legislation came into effect, he was a student at Flagler College, a private liberal arts institution that is not governed by any of that legislation, which applies only to the state’s public schools.

Like all or virtually all private institutions in Florida, Flagler College still maintains an “Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” that cannot be abolished or defunded by state law.

And even with regard to public institutions, legal resistance has held up major portions of the legislation, which have yet to be implemented anywhere.

It is in fact exposure to CRT and DEI that might pose a greater danger to civic order.

Corporate diversity programs, which are now facing steep cuts across the nation, have proved to be divisive, reinforce harmful racial stereotypes, and alienate employees of different backgrounds from each other.

In 2022, diversity positions were reduced by 33%, with further reductions this year, after having previously been the fastest growing category of employment.

Numerous lawsuits have successfully challenged DEI programs in educational institutions, alleging that they violate anti-discrimination laws or equal treatment protections, while many academic diversity officials have voluntarily left their jobs, citing stress, ostracism, and lack of support.

If the Herald’s editors bothered to read the Florida legislation they falsely identify as Palmeter’s inspiration, moreover, they would see that it restricts instructors in our state’s public institutions from teaching students that they are inherently oppressors or victims because of their race.

This is the opposite of racism, yet the Herald’s editors are against it.

Do they agree with Kendi and other CRT and DEI theorists that whites should be taught they are inherently racists, and that minorities should be taught they are inherently victims?

Do they support discriminatory programs in Florida’s public institutions, which research by the investigative media personality Christopher Rufo has proved are pervasive?

Could they be the true racists in the story?

“DeSantis said the right things in the wake of the shooting,” they admitted.

The governor called Palmeter a “scumbag,” denounced his racist writings, and promised state funds to increase security at Edward Waters University, a historically black institution where Palmeter was observed acting suspiciously prior to his crime.

DeSantis also laudably pronounced that “we are not going to let people be targeted based on their race.”

That is a sentiment as much at the heart of his anti-CRT and anti-DEI legislation as it is in his law-and-order approach to crime, which has fallen in Florida in each of the past 50 years even at it has substantially risen recently in pro-CRT and pro-DEI states.

Yet at the same time, the Herald editorial board seems to believe the governor is a cynical racist who may behave differently “when reporters and cameras have moved on.”

“CRT, DEI and ‘woke’ don’t kill people,” their op-ed concludes.

That is probably cold comfort to the families of at least 25 Americans who were killed and thousands who were injured or suffered loss in the “mostly peaceful” race riots that followed George Floyd’s killing in 2020.

But it unfortunately suggests that the editors of Florida’s largest circulation newspaper are committed to a Marxist-inspired racist agenda that Floridians have decisively rejected and all Americans should reject.