Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 14, 2003 / 12 Nissan, 5763

Diana West

Diana West
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The greatest generation gap | The most evocative news photo to come out of the liberation of Baghdad may be one of a young Iraqi man, dressed in a denim jacket, holding a homemade poster celebrating the "Hero of the Peace" -- George W. Bush -- and kissing the president's faintly smiling photo.

Something about this picture seems more significant than even the shot of marines taking their ease in a presidential palace parlor. And something about it is almost more meaningful than the picture of the giant, deposed statue of Saddam Hussein heading, much to the obvious delight of the Baghdad throng, for history's ash heap.

Maybe it's the kiss itself, reminiscent of all the fairytale kisses that break evil spells, or maybe it's the expressive face of Iraqi gratitude toward an American president who has awakened a nation from a nightmare of brutality and repression.

Or maybe it's something else entirely, another face, one not present in the photograph, but easily imagined: the contrasting face of chagrin and disappointment on the anti-war Left (best personified by the professorial radical at the forefront of anti-war protests everywhere) twitching at the prospect of having to face up to a popular, American-led coalition victory.

After all that has been said about Mr. Bush and the war -- not to mention shrieked, spat and gnashed -- this won't be easy. In fact, even as the president's unwavering commitment to disarm Saddam Hussein has put liberty within reality's grasp in Iraq, it seems unlikely to put reality within academia's grasp in America.

This is clearer now than ever, and not just after reading the inflammatory rantings of Nicholas De Genova, the Columbia professor who, at a teach-in, expressed a wish for the military tragedy of "a million Mogadishus" to bring about his vision of world peace. (He later claimed to have been quoted in a "remarkably decontextualized ... manner.") The deepening disconnect between academia and reality is also apparent in the relatively dispassionate comments appearing in a New York Times story about the "role reversals" the war has revealed "between professors shaped by Vietnam protests and a more conservative student body traumatized by the attacks of September 11, 2001."

"Professors protest, as students debate" went the story's headline. "Even in anti-war bastions like Cambridge, Berkeley and Madison, the protests have been more town than gown," it said. "At Berkeley, where Vietnam protesters shouted, 'Shut it down!' under clouds of tear gas, Sproul Plaza these days features mostly solo operators who hand out black armbands. The shutdown was in San Francisco (not the student campuses of Berkeley), and the crowd was grayer." But not wiser, if the professors interviewed about the protests are any measure. "We used to like to offend people," Professor Martha Saxton of Amherst's women's studies department told the newspaper. "We loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?"

Frankly, there's plenty of joy now, only it's in Baghdad, not Berkeley. This, of course, will do nothing to cheer Ms. Saxton, still pining for the days when "being bad" made a "statement." And she is not alone. "In Madison, teach-ins were as common as bratwurst," said Austin Sarat, another nostalgia-minded professor at Amherst whose salad (bratwurst?) days came while studying political science and protesting the Vietnam War in Wisconsin, or vice versa. Now, as the newspaper puts it, he tells his students that, "if you love the United States, you must, as an act of patriotism, oppose the war."

Which is one way of coping with a protesting past. "There was a certain nobility in being gassed," Mr. Sarat explained. "Now you don't get gassed. You walk into a dining hall and hand out informational pamphlets." Nobility aside, Mr. Sarat should look on the bright side: At least Iraq's Kurds don't get "gassed" anymore, either. And informational pamphlets will probably suit them just fine.

Meanwhile, American students are practically AWOL when it comes to recreating the sort of mass campus anti-war rallies of yesteryear. Why? The New York Times has pointed out that war in Iraq entails no draft -- once upon a time, a major incentive (and guilt-trip) for draft-exempt, nobility seeking students of the Vietnam era. Then there's the fact that more students today receive financial aid, and may actually feel compelled to make good grades rather than statements -- bad, joyous or otherwise. And there is another explanation, this one from Yale history professor John Lewis Gaddis: "These are the kids of Reagan," he told the newspaper. "When I lecture on Reagan, the kids love him. Their parents are horrified and appalled."

Their parents and professors, both. Talk about a generation gap. But today's students hardly form a pro-regime-change-monolith. Every campus poll on the war I've seen indicates an evenly divided student body. It is the professoriate that forms the monolith, a statistical oddity due less to changing times than to the professors who fail to change with the times -- and fail, ever, to grow up.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

03/31/03:The great gap between the West and the Middle East
03/21/03: They just wouldn't shut up!
03/10/03: Sorry apologies for speaking the truth
03/03/03: The Eurabian alliance
02/24/03: Searching for good news
02/18/03: Love and honor -- lost, found and murdered
02/03/03: A calm that causes concern
01/27/03: Playing politics with a T-shirt mentality
01/21/03: When understanding the East means losing the West
01/13/03: Is a war on Jews a war on democracy?
01/06/03: Bush must take a stand on affirmative action
12/30/02: Questions for reflection on 2002
12/16/02: The pre-emptive war goes Hollywood
12/09/02: Protest Augusta? Why not Sudan?
11/25/02: Something to contemplate this Ramadan
11/08/02: Does Eminem now fit in?
11/04/02: No time for gloating
11/04/02: What's in a name when the name is Muhammad?
10/28/02: Jihad as a First Amendment right
10/21/02: When speaking out isn't allowed
10/14/02: Terrorism in Maryland and abroad
09/30/02: So long urgency, hello indulgence
09/24/02: That one, sturdy, missing word
09/17/02: Fingerprinting, finally
09/09/02: When 'healing' overshadows reality
09/04/02: Tales from the Techno Valley and Forest
08/16/02: Elvis shall rise again
08/14/02: War with Iraq won't harm war on terror
08/06/02: Clinton snaps over Somalia
08/01/02: 9-11 anniversary shouldn't come with apology
07/27/02: An unstable common ground
07/25/02: Hillary fights hard for soft money
07/12/02: Goretheus unbound
07/10/02: Rosie takes a shine to Republicans
07/08/02: Are you still shocked, Sami?
07/02/02: Can Britney win hearts of the Middle East?
06/28/02: A war on terror or Islamists?
06/25/02: Blame the murderer, and the messenger
06/21/02: Up front and personal with Atta
06/18/02: Terrorism at the United Nations
06/11/02: Who's policing the INS?
06/07/02: Spa Gitmo
06/04/02: Can rock gods save the queen?
05/31/02: Hillary's war
05/29/02: Have you forgotten we're at war?
05/24/02: An antiquated luxury of the past
05/21/02: From terrorists to tourists
05/19/02: Hate U.
05/07/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
05/03/02: Pioneering television
05/01/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
04/29/02: It's the misconduct, stupid
04/24/02: Medal of diss-honor
04/17/02: Holy sanctuary or terrorist shield?
04/12/02: Egyptian clerics solicit martyrs for murder
04/09/02: Defining terrorism down
04/05/02: The Wilder life
04/02/02: Acting, equality and the Academy
03/31/02: Speeding to conclusions
03/25/02: Hard to remove blood (libel) stains
03/21/02: The tale of Nixon's tapes --- again
03/19/02: The Big Lie lives on
03/15/02: The tunnel vision of '9/11'
03/13/02: The American Auschwitz?
03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/23/02: Anti-Indiscrimination
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West