it’s a simple yes or no

Perhaps you saw it. Perhaps you did not. One could easily make the case for the need to know.

Last week the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania appeared before the House Education Committee. We all know Congress can become a bit of a “gotcha hotbed.” Hence, it’s important that we pay attention to what was actually said.

The college presidents were specifically asked about chants on campus crying “intifada,” the contemporary Arab term that has evolved to mean intentional violence toward and the elimination of Jews, wherever their control and presence exists.

They were each asked, “Does that speech not cross that barrier, does that speech not call for the genocide of Jews and the elimination of Israel? Is that speech according to the code of conduct or not?”

Note the responses of those who lead some of America’s perceived finest academic institutions…

Said Dr. Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard, ”We embrace a commitment to free expression and give a wide berth to free expression, even views that are objectionable.”

Added Ms. Liz Magill, the president of UPenn, “It is a context-dependent decision.” 

And lastly, Dr. Sally Kornbluth, the president of MIT, said, “That would be investigated as harassment if pervasive and severe.”

The questioning continued for some time. The three consistently deflected and deferred. (While I’m not an alumnus of any of the above, I wondered if the university leaders missed the wisdom embedded in a “yes” or “no” response, that is, that most of us learned in elementary.)

None of the three would unequivocally state that calls for genocide — whether it be elimination of the Jews or the also added “mass murder of African Americans” — were against their code of conduct. I’ll say it again; these represent our supposed finest educational institutions in the land.

The backlash has been universally, bipartisanly strong. Said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates in the immediate negative aftermath, “It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country. Any statements that advocate for the systematic murder of Jews are dangerous and revolting — and we should all stand firmly against them, on the side of human dignity and the most basic values that unite us as Americans.”

Seemingly realizing that their dodging was disastrous, especially noting the immediate loss or threat of loss of donors, the presidents themselves have been busied with backtracking. Legal speak has said they were “over-prepared” or “over-lawyered” or as the UPenn board chair said of Pres. Magill, “She was not herself last Tuesday.” Said Magill herself in a no doubt carefully crafted video statement, “I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It’s evil, plain and simple.” Magill would resign by the end of the week.

Friends, today’s post isn’t about the current conflict in Israel, a conflict, sadly, that’s been raging for years. Today’s question is about what colleges are teaching our kids. Are we supposed to believe that these educational institutions are still so fine?

What’s the goal of the university? …

Are they preparing students for their professional future?

Do they have other agendas?

Are they attempting to politicize? 


Maybe even skew the thinking of what is known to be right and wrong?

I’ve long thought the current college trajectory was unsustainable, but that was mostly due to exponentially rising costs. Hence, I understand the desire for loan forgiveness even though that unfairly helps some at the expense of others, each who made intentional choices leading to their specific scenario. I’m uncomfortable with the indubitable unjustness of that approach.

However, I now increasingly wonder whether the current college trajectory is unsustainable because of what they teach, because of how they lead, and because of what they advocate for. The bottom line, grossly evident before Congress last week, is that it is unclear whether college teaches what is good and right and true. Our teaching is prompted by what we acknowledge and what we value.

At the very least, therefore, it seems we need to immediately change the definition as to what we perceive as “fine.”



the lost art of debate

Part of the glamour of my illustrious high school career (and yes, please chuckle at the asserted, youthful perception) was being a standout member of my high school speech team. Paling slightly in comparison to the prestige (and scholarships) produced by the athletic department, there were numerous competition events, from Poetry and Prose, Humorous and Dramatic Interpretation, not to mention Impromptu and Extemporaneous Speaking, the latter of which would result in my teenage, semi-claim to fame.

Another event oft offered was debate. Debate means an individual or team works to convince a judge that their side of an issue is more valid than another’s.

The rules are agreed upon. The topic is researched. Logical arguments are prepared. Note that an argument on the debate stage equates to offering “a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.” Argument does not equate to anger. In fact, anger — and its expressive, emotional equivalents — i.e. scorn, condescension, loud disrespect — is frowned upon. It actually is cause for judges to rate competitors poorly.

Interruptions are also minimized. They are allowed only for specific, predefined purpose, such as to get information about the rules, ask a question of privilege, make a point of order or to appeal with a judge/moderator’s ruling. Note, too, interruptions for the purpose of “just wanting to make my point now” or drown someone out or not let another’s point get any traction whatsoever are not permissible on the debate stage. Why? Because with such motive there is no decorum. There is no respect.

Debate is an exchange of ideas based on respectful dialogue. At least that’s what we learned in high school.

As averred by the National Speech & Debate Association, “The importance of respect in this activity cannot be overstated. Because this is an activity designed to facilitate argument, it is often easy to not be civil to opponents. Students cannot let the ease with which incivility comes overwhelm them. All competitors must make an effort to be courteous to their fellow students, to their judges, and to all involved in the activity… Judges will never vote down a debtor for being too courteous.”

And yet as we’ve witnessed, debate in modern day America — debate across the globe — has cringingly morphed from what we learned as adolescents to now into some kind of ideological food fight. It doesn’t matter what you throw, as long as it sticks and makes a notable mess.

Forget about those in the national spotlight. Whether their preferred debate approach is to bawdily bully via rampant interruption or self-serving, manufactured fact or to tactically avoid as long as possible due to an incapability to be consistently coherent, the reality is that politics is downstream from current culture. And current culture isn’t good at either the respect or the idea exchange. 

We have lost the art of debate, friends. We have lost the ability — and the recognition that said ability is good — to sit with the difference of another. And discuss.

How many have had a friend shut us down, saying, “I’m sorry, but we have too many differences to be friends”… or “that’s just too big of a difference”… or even have one suggest, “Ok, we can be friends, but if you ever disagree with me, we’re done.” Sorry, but that sounds more the leaning of an adolescent. That is not good. Not wise. And it is certainly void of the wisdom that is embedded in debate, in the sharing of argument, in the respectful exchange of ideas, both those that are similar. And those that are not.

Years ago, I listened to a TEDTalk by political philosopher and Harvard professor Michael Sandel. He believes that democracy thrives on civil debate. He also believes we’re shamefully out of practice. We aren’t good at that mutual exchange of varied ideas and learning from one another. We’re not good at recognizing the ease with which incivility overwhelms us and justifies less honorable behavior.

Says Sandel, “A better way to mutual respect is to engage directly with the moral convictions citizens bring to public life rather than to require that people leave their deepest moral convictions outside politics before they enter. That it seems to me the way to begin to restore the art of democratic argument.”

Remember: argument isn’t anger. 

By the way, we learned that in high school.



well done

May we always learn from those who’ve gone before us. May we learn from their wisdom. May we learn from their mistakes. May we learn from a life well-lived.

This past week three notable persons passed away…

First was Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady, known perhaps best for her devotion to her husband and advocacy for mental and spiritual health, who said many wise things…

  • “There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”    
  • “Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence.”
  • “I think the city of Washington itself is insular to a certain extent. You have to get out in the country to realize what is going on and discover that the perceptions in Washington aren’t necessarily accurate.”

Many wise things were said of her upon her death… 

  • From the U.S. Secret Service: “Your compassion, diplomacy and penchant to make society better for those less fortunate was an inspiration for an entire generation. It has been our honor to protect and serve you for all of these years. You were truly a treasure for our nation and our Secret Service family.”
  • From Habitat for Humanity: “We are deeply saddened to learn that Rosalynn Carter has died. She was a compassionate and committed champion of Habitat for Humanity and worked fiercely to help families around the world.”

Second was Henry Kissinger, former Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, known as one of the most effective U.S. Sec. of States, although like most of us, not absent of controversy, who said…

  • “Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad.” 
  • “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” 
  • “A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.” 

Also things said were said of him…

  • From former Pres. George W. Bush: “America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger. I have long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army. He worked in the Administrations of two Presidents and counseled many more. I am grateful for that service and advice, but I am most grateful for his friendship. Laura and I will miss his wisdom, his charm and his humor. And we will always be thankful for the contributions of Henry Kissinger.”
  • From the New York Yankees: “The Yankees are profoundly saddened by the passing of former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who performed varied and vital diplomatic and advisory roles throughout his distinguished career. A lifelong friend of the Yankees organization, he was a frequent welcome guest of the Steinbrenner family at Yankee Stadium. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and all who had the privilege of knowing him. He will be deeply missed.”

And third was Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice appointed to the Supreme Court (and actually in retirement, the successor to Henry Kissinger as the chancellor of the College of Willam & Mary), who said many wise things…

  • “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.”
  • “I think the important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases.”
  • I’ve always said that at the end of the day, on a legal issue, I think a wise old woman and a wise old man are going to reach the same conclusion.”

And of course, said of her…

  • From former First Lady of California, Maria Shriver: “Today, a legend, Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, passed. I had the honor of working with her on Alzheimer’s, where she was a forceful advocate. She broke so many barriers. She was smart, strong, determined, a ceiling breaker, a break down the door type woman. She was a role model to me and an inspiration. She was a devoted wife and mother, as well,” Shriver wrote. “In our last conversation she asked me, what are you doing that’s new, that’s different? She kept pushing me to do more. To work harder. Knock down more doors. Thank you Justice O’Connor for paving the way, in so many ways! #architectofchange”
  • And from Melinda Gates, the chairperson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: ”Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was a trailblazer at every step—a young cowgirl in the Arizona desert who grew up to become the first woman on the Supreme Court. She embodied public service and leaves behind an extraordinary legacy.”

Well done… here’s to lives well-lived…



do we know what free speech actually is?

We seem to entertain an ongoing debate as to what speech is ok and what is not. Sometimes our advocacy or opposition is mostly a matter of personal preference. The Free Press’s Ilya Shapiro wrote an excellent piece this weekend defining the boundaries — where free speech ends and the lawbreaking begins. This has been especially obvious (albeit a more accurate word may be “glaring”) during the current Israeli/Hamas/Palestinian conflict. For purposes of encouraging us all on the same page going forward, no less, listen to some key distinctions in a truncated portion of Shapiro’s words :

“… Those who care deeply about free speech are asking themselves many questions at this urgent moment: What should we make of the calls to punish Hamas apologists on campus? After all, this is America, where you have the right to say even the vilest things. Yes, many of the same students who on October 6 called for harsh punishment for ‘microaggressions’ are now chanting for the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state. But Americans are entitled to be hypocrites. 

Don’t these students have the same right to chant Hamas slogans as the neo-Nazis did to march in 1977 in Skokie, Illinois—a town then inhabited by many Holocaust survivors?

I would put my free speech bona fides up against anyone. I’m also a lawyer and sometime law professor who recognizes that not all speech-related questions can be resolved by invoking the words First Amendment. 

Much of what we’ve witnessed on campuses over the past few weeks is not, in fact, speech, but conduct designed specifically to harass, intimidate, and terrorize Jews. Other examples involve disruptive speech that can properly be regulated by school rules. Opposing or taking action against such behavior in no way violates the core constitutional principle that the government can’t punish you for expressing your beliefs. The question, as always, is where to draw the line, and who’s doing the line-drawing. Here are some of the most pressing questions those who care about civil liberties and protecting the rights of Jewish students are asking.

What are some examples of protest activities that are rightly considered conduct rather than speech? 

In drawing the line between speech and conduct, some cases are easy. Beating someone up, as has happened at Columbia and Tulane, is assault. Crowding around someone in a threatening manner, like a group of Harvard students—including an editor of the Harvard Law Review—did to an Israeli student who filmed their protest, is commonly known as the crime of ‘menacing.’ A pattern of actions designed to frighten and harass someone, like forcing Jewish students into the Cooper Union library while pounding on the doors and windows, is stalking. Defacing someone’s property by spray-painting swastikas and slogans, as happened at American University, is vandalism. So is tearing down posters—at least on private property and in most campus settings. And masking at a protest, also a hallmark of events sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine organization, is illegal in many states—a remnant of the battle against KKK intimidation.

The proper response to such behavior, regardless of how ‘expressive’ someone may claim it to be, is the same response we’d have to instances of assault, stalking, intimidation, and other crimes in any other context: identify, arrest, and prosecute the perpetrators. And in the campus setting, expel them. 

Are genocidal slogans like ‘globalize the intifada’ or ‘from the river to the sea’ protected by the First Amendment? 

It depends on the context. First, a clear-cut case: the Cornell student who posted death threats online to Jewish students was rightly arrested, because, as the Supreme Court held, the Constitution doesn’t protect ‘those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.’

In addition to such ‘true threats‘ (and not simply political hyperbole), the First Amendment does not protect the incitement of violence, which the Supreme Court has defined as speech that is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” The courts have set a high bar on meeting this standard—but it’s surely been reached in some recent cases both on and off-campus.

Take, for example, the pro-Palestine rally in Los Angeles, where, in the course of the event, a 69-year-old man holding an Israeli flag was struck and killed. Assuming eliminationist or other violent slogans were chanted there, it would be hard to imagine a more direct connection between those chants and actual violence. But a group of students marching through campus cheering for Hamas is no different than a group of students celebrating the killing of innocent black people. Though we can imagine how different the campus response to the latter would be, from a First Amendment perspective, both are protected.

Wait, but isn’t shouting antisemitic epithets hate speech?

Offensive or ‘hate’ speech is constitutionally protected—including burning a flag or giving a racially charged speech to a restless crowd. But even undeniably protected speech can be off-limits in certain contexts. If I come to your neighborhood in the middle of the night and use a bullhorn to tell you what I really think of Joe Biden or Donald Trump, I can be arrested for disturbing the peace. The same thing goes for breaching the terms of a parade permit, or not getting a permit at all and blocking traffic. So for any particular incident, you have to drill down on the specific facts. Engaging in what someone—even most people—would consider ‘hate speech’ won’t get you in trouble. But doing so outside Jewish students’ dorms at midnight, or following Israeli students around to yell at them, will land you in hot water.

What about the interruption of classes and speakers by protesters? Isn’t this just more speech that’s protected by the First Amendment?

In the campus context, we’ve learned in the last couple of years—some of us quite personally—that there’s a difference between protest and disruption. Student handbooks typically spell out that it’s generally fine to hold signs, wear t-shirts, give out pamphlets, organize counter-events, and otherwise show displeasure with a speaker. But students aren’t allowed to shut down events, disrupt classes, or otherwise interfere with university programs. 

The week before Thanksgiving, Josh Hammer’s speech at the University of Michigan was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters (Hammer is Jewish). Meantime, a student at MIT commandeered a math lecture to protest what he called the ‘ongoing genocide of Gaza.’

It’s in no way a free speech violation to prohibit students from shouting down professors and speakers. To allow such disruption would be to empower a ‘heckler’s veto,’ which is merely another form of censorship. But because of either ideological affinity or administrative weakness—and maybe even a misunderstanding of free speech principles—university officials have been hesitant to discipline students for this sort of behavior. Which is why it continues. 

As Yascha Mounk, a liberal fed up with campus illiberalism, explained in a pithy X thread, ‘part of protecting free speech is to punish students who violate the rules that make free speech possible for everyone else. This includes punishing those who violently disrupt talks—and it also includes punishing those who tear down fliers depicting children kidnapped by Hamas. The answer to this moment isn’t to give up on a culture of free speech on campus. It’s to enforce the rules that sustain it in an impartial manner’…”

Good to know. Good to learn. The discussion continues…



additional thanksgiving

The holiday may be over, but the intentional practice of gratitude never ends.

What are you grateful for?

Who do you need to tell?

What do you need to dismiss, no longer allowing something lesser to get in the way? Something lesser is typically something we have magnified… probably for perceived good reasons… yet reasons, no less, that wisdom would extinguish with a quiet, complete ease.

Here at the Intramuralist, let us always encourage what is good and right and true… even today with fewer words.



being known for intentional thanksgiving

Years ago I remember first sitting with a simple nugget of wisdom… it may be a little chicken-and-egg-ish, not quite certain of which one came first. But I remember the profoundness embedded in one of the reasons we sometimes struggle with faith… we quit acknowledging God; we stop thanking Him; we omit Him increasingly more from the conversation. And the more we omit Him, we become a little more wise in our own eyes.

Evidence of God has always existed. Look up. See the stars and the sky. Look around. See the Earth and the beauty of both the mountains and the sea. Look at others. See the masterful creativity in our diversity. 

No, I don’t question whether God exists. While clearly we can’t figure all things out on this planet — why some things play out the way they do or why the bad stuff happens — I can’t allow my questions to stifle my belief; there’s just too much I have to ignore to believe that God doesn’t exist. And as noted English writer G.K. Chesterton once penned, “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing; he believes anything.” Yeah, with absolutely all due respect, anything and everything simply doesn’t make sense.

But what I also know to be true is that there is great grace in this journey. You and I don’t have to be in the exact same place. It would be silly to expect that be true. The next step for you and for me and for all who be is never to be expected to be exactly the same. That’s why judgment makes zero sense.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I want to pause and be intentional — encouraging the intentional offering of gratitude. Each of our individual lists vary. So consistent with an Intramuralist practice, allow us to learn from a leader, a former President. It would be only a little more than two weeks after writing this, that Pres. John F. Kennedy would lose his life to an assassin’s bullet on a trip to Dallas, Texas. Here he humbly proclaimed “a day of national thanksgiving” in November of 1963…

“… Today we are a nation of nearly two hundred million souls, stretching from coast to coast, on into the Pacific and north toward the Arctic, a nation enjoying the fruits of an ever-expanding agriculture and industry and achieving standards of living unknown in previous history. We give our humble thanks for this.

Yet, as our power has grown, so has our peril. Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers–for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.

Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings–let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals–and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world…

… let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.”

May we be wise. May we be a people known for our intentional thanksgiving.



omitting the amoral

So an interesting development of the week that was was the resurgence of the 21-year-old letter by Osama bin Laden in which the deceased al-Qaeda leader attempted to justify the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was written after the onslaught but prior, obviously, to his death. 

The letter portrays America as hostile to the Muslim world. It condemns U.S. support for Israel. It criticizes the U.S. for not adopting Sharia law. (Note: an enlightening case study is how Sharia views the LGBTQ community and what they see as a just consequence for such engagement — might be a wise pursuit for current anti-Israel/pro-Hamas protestors to undertake… lest we digress…)

An even more interesting development of the week that was was the ample amount of favorable attention persons paid to bin Laden’s letter on social media. I did say “favorable.” For example…

“So I just read ‘A Letter to America’ and I will never look at life the same. I will never look at this country the same.” 

“If you haven’t, you have to go read Osama’s letter to America. Then you’ll see what this has to do with us. They have lied to us more than enough. Reading that was honestly life changing. My bond with this conflict is unshakable.”

“If we’re going to call Osama bin Laden a terrorist, so is the American government.”

Ah, yes, sympathizing with a terrorist. 


Let us first acknowledge that most of the viral sharing occurred on TikTok. 

80% of TikTok’s users are between the ages of 16-34. Ages 10-19 make up 25% of their users. Ages 20-29 comprise the next most at 22.4%. 

Let’s also be clear, anyone under the age of 22 and 1 month never witnessed 9/11 firsthand. They didn’t see what we saw. They didn’t feel what we felt. They did not know the horror for which bin Laden was amorally responsible.

It’s amazing how easy it is to feel what you want to feel when you omit the amoral.

So let’s ask some questions. With no desire to pick on TikTok (although with reasonable questions as to whose controlling what) and knowing many of us are either in these age groups or have dear friends and family included here, what should we ask them? What do they not know? What do they not know that allows them to have any sense of admiration or praise for a man who intentionally murdered thousands?

Are they aware of what Osama bin Laden actually believed?

… that the U.S. government was evil because it was secular… that because the U.S. is a democracy, civilians are fair targets… that Afghanistan was “the only Islamic country” in the Muslim world… that music was wrong…

Are they aware of what Osama bin Laden actually said?

… that homosexuality is “immoral”… that [He] “We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two”… and that “the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it”… 

Yikes. There is so much so easy to overlook when you omit the amoral. Said one man, who was 15 when his father died in the Twin Towers: “You should all know that Hamas and Al-Qaeda and people that you are supporting and giving credibility to would not hesitate one second to kill you or kidnap you and your family and hold you ransom simply based on the color of your skin or your gender identity or your nationality or your religion.”

Clearly, sometimes social media gets in the way. Clearer still, sometimes it is not reflective of truth. As British-born journalist Charles C.W. Cooke said on The Editors podcast last week: “How do you get to a point, at which you read a letter from Osama bin Laden and say, ‘Wow, I guess I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes. He had a point.’ What do you lack in general education, general understanding of the world, general context?”

That’s it. They’re lacking something. They’re lacking an awareness of the amoral. 



really? … anti-Israel? … anti-Semitism? … why?

For weeks now I have attempted to understand why decent, intelligent, typically goodhearted people would openly support barbarism and bigotry. For a while I convinced myself they were unaware of the barbarism. Maybe somehow in a sea of slanted media, they didn’t see what really happened on October 7th… maybe they didn’t know of the murders and mutilations; maybe they somehow didn’t hear that Hamas tortured families and killed innocent children.

Maybe, too, they didn’t know it was bigotry. I mean, maybe they attempted to warp history into some sort of both-sides-ism… maybe they didn’t hear the call of the Hamas member, calling his parents to say, “Look how many I killed with my own hands! Your son killed Jews!… I killed 10 with my own hands! Dad, 10 with my own hands!” Maybe they don’t know that anti-Semitism has long been a thing.

I think that’s one of the more confusing aspects of this conflict. So many who claim to be woke to injustice rationalize brutal cruelty of the Jewish race. It doesn’t make sense to me. Again, I so wanted to believe they didn’t know. Why would people support such terrible things?

Here at the Intramuralist, one of the writers we frequently read and quote is Bari Weiss, a Jewish, moderately pro-choice, lesbian journalist. She previously worked for both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, most recently leaving the latter for not defending her against alleged bullying by her colleagues, accusing The Times of unlawful discrimination and a hostile work environment. You see, Weiss doesn’t fit in a stereotypical liberal or conservative box. She’s a smart, gifted writer. She’s respectful and fair and refuses to fuel that media slant.

She, too, noticed that frightening phenomena, comparing what’s the same and what’s different with the attack on the Twin Towers twenty-some years ago… 

“As with 9/11, the spectacle and the savagery were the point. As with 9/11, the terrorists notched points on their sadistic scoreboard, taking from us not just precious lives, but our sense of our safety and security. They changed something within us. The difference between 9/11 and 10/7—two massacres of innocent people, symbols to their killers of Western civilization—was the reaction to the horror. The difference between 9/11 and 10/7 was that the catastrophe of 10/7 was followed, on October 8, by a different kind of catastrophe. A moral and spiritual catastrophe that was on full display throughout the West before the bodies of those men and women and children had even been identified. People poured into the streets of our capital cities to celebrate the slaughter.”

Hear that: people celebrated the slaughter. People celebrated the barbarism and bigotry. Much of that, sadly, has been previously shared here. But why? Why would people be so blind to such obvious hatred? Or as Weiss asks, “What could possibly explain this?” 

“The easy answer is that the human beings who were slaughtered on October 7 were Jews. And that antisemitism is the world’s oldest hatred. And that in every generation someone rises up to kill us. ‘They tried to wipe us out, they failed, let’s eat’ as the old Jewish joke goes. But that is not the whole answer. Because the proliferation of antisemitism, as always, is a symptom. 

When antisemitism moves from the shameful fringe into the public square, it is not about Jews. It is never about Jews. It is about everyone else. It is about the surrounding society or the culture or the country. It is an early warning system—a sign that the society itself is breaking down. That it is dying. 

It is a symptom of a much deeper crisis—one that explains how, in the span of a little over 20 years since Sept 11, educated people now respond to an act of savagery not with a defense of civilization, but with a defense of barbarism.

It was twenty years ago when I began to encounter the ideology that drives the people who tear down the posters. It was twenty years ago, when I was a college student, that I started writing about a nameless, then-niche worldview that seemed to contradict everything I had been taught since I was a child.

At first, things like postmodernism and postcolonialism and postnationalism seemed like wordplay and intellectual games—little puzzles to see how you could ‘deconstruct’ just about anything. What I came to see over time was that it wasn’t going to remain an academic sideshow. And that it sought nothing less than the deconstruction of our civilization from within. It seeks to upend the very ideas of right and wrong.

It replaces basic ideas of good and evil with a new rubric: the powerless (good) and the powerful (bad). It replaced lots of things. Color blindness with race obsession. Ideas with identity. Debate with denunciation. Persuasion with public shaming. The rule of law with the fury of the mob.

People were to be given authority in this new order not in recognition of their gifts, hard work, accomplishments, or contributions to society, but in inverse proportion to the disadvantages their group had suffered, as defined by radical ideologues.

And so, as an undergraduate, I watched in horror, sounding alarms as loudly as I could. I was told by most adults I knew that yes, it wasn’t great, but not to be so hysterical. Campuses were always hotbeds of radicalism, they said. This ideology, they promised, would surely dissipate as young people made their way in the world. They were wrong. It did not.”

Weiss has more to say (it can be read HERE). She even presents prudent ways the rest of us can respond. She encourages us to defend our values — “the values that have made this country the freest, most tolerant society in the history of the world.”

We are a tolerant society. Weiss is a wise woman. But to be clear; wisdom dictates that our society never justifies barbarism and bigotry. No matter how blind.



when it’s your team

Oh, indeed… such a fascinating development…note the wide range of which it spans…

For example…

The University of Michigan football team… There are mounds of evidence that the team cheated, that they broke the rules of D1 football. The basic idea is that they stole the signs of the opposition for at least the past three years. While some will argue that sign-stealing is a natural part of the game, the extent to which Michigan pursued the effort went clearly beyond college football rules. Interestingly, in defense of their actions, there is not an outspoken denial of their actions. There more seems an “everybody’s doing it” defense… or a “well, let’s wait and see… let’s not rush to judgment.”

Coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the rest of the season on Friday.  He is allowed to coach the team during the week but is prohibited from being present at the Wolverines’ games, starting yesterday.

And yet, the numbers of persons who screamed “wait” or “unfair” seemed to swell. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib — also from Michigan — was censured this week. What is a censure? A censure, according to the U.S. House, is a form of rebuke that “registers the House’s deep disapproval of member misconduct that, nevertheless, does not meet the threshold for expulsion.” Her behavior was reprimanded by a bipartisan majority of Congress because of her Israel/ Hamas rhetoric in which she has repeated known lies and anti-Semitic oratories. She has said some embarrassing, bigoted, terrible things. 

And yet, the numbers of persons who attempted to scream or stand up for the Representative also seemingly swelled. Minimally, I might add.

Absent of objective reality, no less, the support for each of the above swelled… that is, if, and perhaps only if, the targeted was already a member of your so-called team. Let’s face it; we like our team.

It’s therefore amazing to me the excuses we make for them… that is, when the person is on our so-called team…

Oh, wait…

My apologies.

We’re not ok with all the excuses. We know that’s not good and wise and true. It’s just that if they’re on our team, so-to-speak, we give them great lenience. We desire to be gentler… to seek to understand.

I’m trying to wrap my head around what that is and what that isn’t. Why is it that we make excuses or dampen the impact of those who represent teams to which we currently belong?

I think of some of my Michigan friends. I respect them greatly. They are good people. Let me not suggest that Coach Harbaugh is anything other than a person of solid character. I don’t have any of the proximity which is required to discern.

But I think of those who share the fandom, and they’re clearly a little more patient… a little more graceful… far slower to invoke any slice of judgment than the rest of us… “let’s just wait and see” is a familiar refrain.

Same with Rep. Tlaib. She fits in the vocal Lauren Boebert/Ilhan Omar category. I have zero desire to pick on these women, yet each of them clearly, poorly represents the majority of American women. Granted, they are only paid to represent a small geographical segment of the population, yet they say and do some outlandishly foolish things.

And yet, if they’re on our team, we tend to buffer our response via a few excuses. We work harder to first understand. We even adopt a wait-and-see approach. Maybe it isn’t quite so bad.

Friends, I’m all for a grace-laden, wait-and-see approach. Grace and mercy always triumph over judgment. But when we do so, when we apply grace and mercy, it needs to be consistent. It needs to be across the board. Not simply for those we consider to already be on our team.




The next election is only a year away. Actually — less than that. Egad. 362 days (God help us). It’s no secret, no less, that the Intramuralist is not a fan of persons running for office that are cruel, callous or incompetent. I am also not a fan of Joe Biden or Donald Trump. (We’ll let you make up your own mind as to who fits into what category.)  But in no way do I wish to be disrespectful or cruel and callous in return; I simply believe there are far better persons who could lead our country well. Based on most all recent polling, I am not alone. In fact, I am not in the minority either.

As the two most recent Presidents continue to attempt to convince us (having seemingly already convinced themselves) that they actually are the best person to lead our country, it makes me take a closer look at what a commonsense majority believes.

Ryan Clancy, Chief Strategist for the increasingly popular, nonpartisan No Labels organization, often speaks of how the majority of this country indeed advocates for commonsense. How do we consistently utilize sound judgment in practical matters? What decisions would a commonsense leader make? Clancy poses great questions, and then calmly presents how a president actually representing the majority of us would proceed…

1. On the left, we see some calling for the United States to reduce its assistance to Israel. On the right, some say we should stop providing support for Ukraine. What do you say to them? 

Commonsense Answer: I say the world will become a much darker place if America abandons Israel or Ukraine at a moment when they are fighting for the very survival of their countries. If America pulls back from the world, it doesn’t make us safer. It just makes it easier for Russia, Iran and China to destroy the world order that America built.  

Our adversaries want to create a world order in which they bully other countries into submission and use terrorism to get what they want. I’ll do what’s necessary as president to ensure that America – along with our many friends around the world – has what it takes to defend our country and the system of rules and alliances that we built, creating the longest stretch of peace and prosperity in the history of the world. 

2. America’s national debt is over $33 trillion, and Washington now spends one out of every seven dollars just on interest payments. How would you finally get this debt under control? 

Commonsense Answer: First, I will treat our national debt like the existential problem that it is. Our debt has grown under Democratic and Republican presidents, and if we don’t get it under control, we won’t have the resources to defend ourselves or make the investments we need to grow our economy and create jobs. 

To solve a problem this big, we need everyone at the table, and we need to recognize that we’re running out of time. That’s why as president, one of my first acts as president will be creating an independent and bipartisan deficit reduction commission. They’ll come up with a deficit reduction plan that Congress would have to vote on in its entirety, meaning members of Congress could not offer amendments to change it. This is the only way we can finally make a dent in this problem. 

3. For decades, Washington has tried and failed to fix our immigration system and now over 6,000 people are coming across our border illegally every day, along with drugs, weapons and potentially terrorists. How would you fix this problem? 

Commonsense Answer: America is a nation of laws, so America must immediately regain control of its border, with more barriers, more technology, more border patrol agents and more immigration judges. America is also a nation of immigrants, and we need more hard-working people who can help grow our economy. 

This problem will never get solved unless Democrats and Republicans work together instead of just demonizing one another. 

So, we have a choice as a country. We can make some hard compromises to create a sensible system that protects our border and creates an orderly system to admit immigrants. Or we can have what we have today: total chaos that makes us less safe and tears our country apart. 

The last few paragraphs get my attention…

… stop demonizing one another…

… making hard compromises for a sensible solution…

Yes. This, my friends, is commonsense.