On the Ballot: The flawed coverage of college protests


As ceasefire discussions between Hamas and Israeli negotiators slowly progress, violence rages on. 

On Monday, an Israeli airstrike killed 22 people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, as reported by The Guardian. Also on Monday, 12 Palestinians were detained by the Israeli Defense Forces in the occupied West Bank. 

These instances are just a drop in the bucket of suffering. That includes the death of about 34,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis, not to mention the wrongly incarcerated hostages and prisoners being held by both sides. 

The United States blocked all UN Ceasefire resolutions until Mar. 25, when it abstained from vetoing the resolution. More recently, a bipartisan bill signed by President Biden allocated $26 billion to Israel. The bill also allocates $61 billion in funds to Ukraine and attempts to force the sale of TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to an American company. 

The Senate overwhelmingly voted 81-19 to pass the bill, margins dramatically removed from public opinion. A recent Gallup poll found that only 36% of Americans approve of Israel’s military actions in Gaza. 

A government operating out of line with popular will alongside a growing disgust for the senseless violence occurring in Palestine has justifiably left people feeling angry, particularly on college campuses. 

Universities all around the country have burst into outrage over the war on Gaza, the U.S.’s involvement in it and specific connections with their respective universities’ relationships and Israel. 

In a country routinely labeled as “fractured” and “divided,” the anti-war movement has been a reminder of humanitarian solidarity. It’s not hateful to call for a cessation of violence or to speak up for the unspoken people suffering in Gaza. 

Those who claim it is have been scrambling to find a coherent argument to diminish the nationwide protests, and have been falling flat on their face. 

For example, Fox News host Jesse Waters said in a written post on X, “The Hamas influencers at universities across the country are starting to smell like Antifa. And the colleges shouldn’t be surprised by these insurgent cells popping up on their grounds. They’ve made fostering anti-American ideas a key point of their curriculum, hiring professors who praise Hamas after slaughtering innocent women and children.” 

All of a sudden, Americans using their First Amendment right to protest is “anti-American” according to one of cable news’ loudest voices. Waters and other conservative pundits ought to learn a little about the many anti-war protests that occurred throughout American history, most notably the anti-Vietnam war movement led by students in the late 1960s. 

These half-hearted assertions from Waters miss the mark entirely, and will only reassure anti-war protesters of their cause. 

Middle-brow, lazy commentary on student protests isn’t just limited to conservative voices. 

On MSNBC’s flagship program “Morning Joe,” commentator Donny Deutsch offered his guess for why the protest movement is continuously gaining traction.

“Never do you hear the word ‘peace,’ because this site doesn’t want peace,” Deutsch said. “It wants a jihad. And this is not pro-Palestinian, this is anti-Israel, and anti-Israel is a misnomer because it’s really anti-Jew. And it makes me sick and it’s terrifying.” 

Not only does Deutsch completely misunderstand the cause of the protests, but he also inflates all Jewish people with the state of Israel. This argument is equivalent to saying any criticism of the U.S. is anti-Christian. 

It takes an elementary understanding of the situation to recognize how illogical much of the anti-protest sentiment spewed from cable news is.

The Jewish activist groups MIT Jews for Ceasefire, Harvard Jews for Palestine and University of Pennsylvania Chavurah perfectly captured how conflating all Jewish people with the state of Israel is a harmful talking point in a joint statement to Congress in December. 

“It is unacceptable for school administration and politicians … to co-opt our shared identity to silence Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, and Jewish students. These actions only serve to obfuscate real cases of antisemitism and put Jewish students at even greater risk.”

The common anti-protest talking points are historically illogical. Just look at this argument from NYU professor Scott Galloway on HBO’s program “Real Time” with Bill Maher Friday.

“I think part of the problem is young people aren’t having enough sex so they go on the hunt for fake threats and the most popular threat throughout history is (antisemitism).”

I would offer a critical analysis of Galloway’s argument, but it’s so absurd all I could come up with is, “Come on man.”

I hope these arguments against the ever-growing anti-war movement will provide clarity and justification that peaceful protestors are doing the right thing. 

And as for Galloway’s argument, I hope it gives you a laugh like it did for me. 

In this pivotal election year, students are fervently involved in politics in an unforeseen and unprecedented way, just not for Biden or challenger Donald Trump.  A CNN poll found 71% of voters aged 18-34 disapprove of how Biden is handling the conflict.

While students may prioritize other issues on the ballot, it is clear that opinion on the Israel-Gaza conflict is lopsided against the war thus far and the protests seen all across the country are proof of that.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave A Reply