Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Roundup of Conversations Had and Not Had

Just for the record, I feel guilty about relying on roundups so much of the past few weeks.

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Vox interviews Brown University professor and eclectic right-of-center Black academic Glenn Loury. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Loury earlier this year, and he is a very thoughtful man whose ideas are worth reading even when one disagrees. This interview is no different.


Ruth Smeeth's testimony regarding the anti-Semitism she's faced at the hands of Jeremy Corbyn supporters -- and Corbyn's own blithe indifference to the atmosphere of hate he's birthed -- is heart-breaking. Corbyn's movement really is just a left-wing version of Trumpism.

Reports are that Israel has blocked a British academic scheduled to give a series of lectures at Birzeit University from entering the West Bank. I know nothing about the professor or his scholarship, but such decisions are an anathema to academic freedom and deserve full-throated condemnation.

Well, the Oberlin Student Senate finally found a Mideast related event that demanded condemnation: the one where my friend Stacey Aviva Flint, an African-American Jew from Chicago, will talk about her experience as a Jew of color and issues of intersectionality. Flint -- a member (like me) of the left-wing Third Narrative organization -- will be joined by Kenneth Marcus of the Brandeis Center and Chloe Simone Valdary, a non-Jewish African American woman who has been active in (generally right-wing) efforts to cultivate solidarity between Israel and the African-American community.

Massachusetts Supreme Court concludes (a) that vague descriptions that a criminal suspect is a Black man wearing dark clothes is insufficient to justify a stop of any Black man wearing dark clothes and (b) that, given realities of racial profiling, the act of running from the police does not, in of itself, establish probable cause for a stop either.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Maybe It's Time To Concede This Doesn't Work

Our constitutional jurisprudence surrounding legislative prayer is a two-step dance. In the first step, the judiciary tells legislatures that they can have prayers so long as the process for selecting them is not biased with respect to particular denominations or sects. In the second step, legislatures do everything they can to be biased with respect to particular denominations and sects.

The latest remix of this everlasting beat is a 4th Circuit decision in Lund v. Rowan County, where a county commission simply had its commissioners choose the prayer leaders it preferred -- unsurprisingly, leading to an overwhelmingly Christian bent. Ian Millhiser has commentary, but I'll be honest and say that I'm not convinced the decision is obviously wrong under either SCOTUS or 4th Circuit precedent. Indeed, its not even the worst 4th Circuit legislative prayer decision since the inception of this blog -- a distinction still unquestionably held by Simpson v. Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.

The problem is that the demand for religious neutrality contained in step one founders upon the obvious fact that the upshot of step one is that legislatures might have to admit prayers by religion groups they dislike. Which means they do everything they can to channel who gets to say the prayers, which means that the "neutrality" principle immediately collapses.

It's not that there is a conceptual incoherence to the idea that legislative prayers are permissible so long as they do not discriminate in favor or against a particular sect. But it is clear that many if not most legislative bodies aren't really willing to pay that piper -- admit prayers from Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Wiccans and Satanists. And so perhaps its time to concede that the doctrinal rule we've set up just isn't going to work. There are plenty of opportunities to pray without relying on bureaucratic set asides, and some of us don't need government-sponsored training wheels before we feel secure in our faith.

Academic Freedom versus Academic Legitimacy: The Berkeley Palestine Class

A few days ago, Berkeley administrators suspended a course in progress titled "Palestine: A Settler-Colonial Analysis". As it happens, I'm relatively familiar with the course, and became aware of it well before it found itself in the middle of a national controversy. And so observing this chain of events has been like watching a car crash in slow motion. I knew it was coming, and knew it would be awful, but there was a depressing inevitability about the destruction.

I first became aware of the class when I spotted some advertisements for it which prominently featured those ridiculous maps. That inspired me to look into and read the syllabus, and what I saw was not exactly impressive. It was indeed entirely one-sided, taking a single conclusion as a given and not demonstrating an iota of interest in alternative vantages. Basically, it was not a course that did Berkeley proud in terms of its pedagogical merits.

At the same time, I also found out that the course was a "Decal"  offering -- courses designed and led by undergraduates, for undergraduates (this also put an end to my brief consideration of enrolling or auditing -- they're not open to graduate students). My understanding is that faculty review and oversight of these courses is relatively minimal (though I'm not sure about the exact amount of standard supervision). Most of the classes are on relatively fluffy topics, really more of a way to secure a few easy credits and explore a fun topic. They are not representative of the standard Berkeley offering; they don't say much of anything about Berkeley as a whole other than that we let undergrads design some courses, and some undergraduate-designed courses won't wow me with their sense of depth or nuance. So I figured there really wasn't much worth saying. You give undergraduates power to design classes, and some of those classes won't perfectly embody recognized pedagogical ideals. Quelle surprise.

Then, a few days later, mention of this course started to burble up on my Twitter feed. I did my best to give a fair, non-alarmist description: Yes, the class looks pretty one-sided, no, it's not reflective of Berkeley as a whole -- it's an undergraduate-designed class that will only enroll a dozen or two. At the same time, the subliminal message I was trying to send was much more straight-forward: Let it go. Just let it go. LetItGoLetItGoLETITGO.

Alas, nobody ever lets these things go. The hysteria machine spun into action, and then the class was suspended. The official rationale is that it failed to get certain approvals. This reeks of pretext, and it might not even be that -- this post, though overwrought at times, proffers compelling evidence that the class in fact fulfilled all the procedural requirements it needed. And the thing is, every step in the process was eminently predictable. Of course Berkeley is the sort of place that would produce a class like this, and of course we have faculty members who don't care enough inculcating good pedagogical habits that they'll give it their unmitigated approval. And then of course it will get out, and of course the usual suspects on the Jewish right will blow up in a hysterical overreaction to a tiny undergraduate seminar. And then of course Berkeley administrators rush into the worst, most panicked response possible and suspend the class without even contacting the course facilitator, making a mockery of academic freedom in the process, and then of course that suspension will become proof that it is impossible for even the meekest "criticism of Israel" to be aired in academia. (And then of course someone will call for a sit-in, because this is Berkeley and every damn thing needs to be a sit-in, and then of course Simone Zimmerman will propose having it at Berkeley Hillel, as opposed to the university office that actually made the decision, because some people haven't met a forest fire they didn't ache to pour gasoline on).

So my basic position at the moment is that I hate everyone. This is not for me an uncommon sentiment when it comes to either Berkeley decision-making or discourse about Israel and Palestine, so I guess you could say I'm used to it. But now that this bonfire has well and truly surged out of control, I guess I'll offer my two cents after all.

Right now, the debate has fallen into the usual rut: either the class was great and thus canceling it was an academic freedom violation, or the class is awful and thus canceling it was no academic freedom violation whatsoever. This dichotomy conflates two separate questions -- "was the class pedagogically sound" and "was Berkeley justified in suspending it" -- and it is that conflation which is worth breaking down. A few years ago I wrote a very short essay entitled "Academic Freedom versus Academic Legitimacy", and I've analyzed a few academic freedom controversies through that lens. The basic thrust of the article is that "academic freedom is a constraint on remedies": It does not block criticism of bad academic choices -- the decision to invite a certain speaker, or to construct a one-sided syllabus, or to forward a terrible argument -- it simply takes off the table certain responses. You can't ban "bad" speakers, or punish those who invite them. You can't fire tenured academics for publishing awful arguments. And you can't cancel classes just because their design is pedagogically objectionable.

So, on the one hand, it is perfectly valid and legitimate to raise concerns about this course and how it was constructed. As I said, I read the course's syllabus, and it had plenty in it to object to. The problem was not that it adopted a "colonial" or "settler-colonial" analytical frame -- I think there is a very interesting course to be written along that dimension. The problem was that it adopted that frame in a remarkably narrow, ideologically-blinded way. "Balance" is an impossible goal, but good pedagogy demands that when one centers a course around a given theme, one at least acknowledge a range of views that properly bear on its complexity. The course as it stands is akin to a class titled "Palestinians: A Made-Up People?" with 15 weeks of readings all answering "yep." A class like that would be an embarrassment, a joke, an obvious failure to meet reasonable pedagogical standards.

This is why when I teach my seminar on anti-discrimination, my syllabus includes an array of thinkers ranging from Cheryl Harris to Gerald Rosenberg to Charles Lawrence to Antonin Scalia to (a whole unit on) Clarence Thomas. Anti-discrimination is a big, important topic, and while I can't expose my students to all views (let alone all views "evenly"), I would be embarrassed if I only relayed to them those arguments which mirrored my own. To do that would be to confuse being a teacher with being an advocate; it would represent a failure to meet basic standards of pedagogy and intellectual inquiry.

But on the other hand, these objections simply have no bearing from an academic freedom standpoint. Academic freedom means that, sometimes, people are going to teach classes that I think fail to meet basic standards of pedagogy and intellectual inquiry. That comes with the territory. Academic freedom is a constraint on remedies; it means that, whether warranted or not, objections that a class is "imbalanced" or "biased" or even just pedagogically terrible cannot be rectified with a suspension or ban. That option is (or should be) off the table. The decision to suspend the course is flatly incompatible with any legitimate understanding of what academic freedom entails. and Berkeley should be embarrassed that it did it.

To be sure, it is reasonable to demand of members of the Berkeley academic community that they try to meet certain basic pedagogical standards when designing courses -- that they at least try to avoid narrow and ideologically lazy course constructions and present topics with an eye towards their full nuance and complexity. Decal, in particular, should be a venue where we try to inculcate young students with these academic values -- namely, that one's role when designing and teaching a class is different than when one is participating in one (let alone leading a protest rally). It demands something different out of us, and what it demands can be especially difficult to give if one is personally close to the subject matter. To the extent that a significant portion of the Berkeley academic community is indifferent to those values -- simply does not care about courses being thinly disguised agitprop or forums for indoctrination -- that would indeed suggest a deep and serious failing in our university. But again, "academic freedom" means that we are limited in the remedies we can bring to bear against such failings. Right now any conversation we might have about these "cultural" failings will be drowned out, appropriately so, by the more obvious breach of academic freedom.

And let's be clear: the erosion of academic freedom norms has ramifications far beyond Berkeley. Sometimes, as here, it will be a "pro-Palestinian" course offering that is suppressed; elsewhere, it will be "pro-Israel" or Jewish or Zionist scholars who are threatened with exclusion from the academic community. Too many people are quick to cheer one while angrily crying "censorship!" at the other. But true academic freedom has no fair-weather friends. Either you back it, or you don't. The decision by the Berkeley administration to suspend the class was wrong. I suspect it will eventually be overturned (perhaps with some token modifications to the course; almost certainly with quintuple the attention paid to its offerings than would have resulted if the "pro-Israel" right had Just. Let. It. GO.), and it should be. That doesn't mean it wasn't a problematic offering, or that it adequately embodied the ideals we should aspire to as teachers and scholars. But academic freedom is not restricted only to those curricular offerings which meet my standards of ideal pedagogy. If we have a problem with a Berkeley undergraduate course, our solutions must be consistent with the basic ideals of academic freedom that enable open inquiry and free discussion in the modern university.

UPDATE: I have on good authority that the course has been reinstated. There may be some minor changes to the syllabus wording, but apparently no changes in the reading. More (linkable) information once I obtain it.

UPDATE x2: Here is a Forward article on the reinstatement. Hopefully that brings this sorry episode to a close.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Man Arrested in Terrorist Attack on Florida Mosque

A 32-year old Jewish [See update -- DS] Floridian has confessed to an arson attack on the Florida mosque that was home to the Pulse nightclub shooter. Since this is being investigated as a hate crime (which, I've often argued, is just another way of saying "terrorism"), he faces a mandatory 30 year minimum prison sentence. That sounds entirely appropriate, under the circumstances. The suspect, in addition to a prior criminal record including armed robbery, also was apparently a prolific writer of anti-Muslim social media posts.

The man claims to be "embarrassed" by what he has done. Good -- he can be embarrassed for multiple decades behind bars. Terrorist violence against Americans of any religion, ethnicity, or creed is absolutely unacceptable and should be met with the full force of our justice system. I'm glad they caught the guy, and I look forward to him being sentenced. Good riddance.

UPDATE: According to the Daily Beast, the man in question is actually a Messianic Jew -- which is to say, not a Jew at all. Good news for Jews; does not alter his scumminess in the slightest.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Palate-Cleansing Roundup

My Tablet article on Brooklyn Commons, and the follow up posted here, really pulled me away from a lot of my other reading -- including some planned posts. So here's a palate-cleansing roundup for your pleasure -- fewer entries than normal, but with more meat per bite.

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An interesting piece at Deadspin exploring why hijab-wearing fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, rather than uncovered hurdler Dalilah Muhammad, became the "face" of Muslim women among American Olympians. At one level, I think it is absolutely fair to suggest that minority groups -- of all sorts -- tend to face greater barriers to inclusion the more they are differentiated from majoritarian norms (e.g., by waring a hijab). On other, though, I think it is not improbable that there is a degree of exoticization going on here, where we recognize as "authentic" cultural enactments which play to our pre-existing stereotypes.

In +972 Magazine, Assaf David argues that Israel is simply another Middle Eastern nation struggling to find its way in the wake of the colonial withdrawal from the region. None of Israel's problems: it's identification with a particular religious and social group to the chafing of minority members of the state, to its ongoing struggles with sub- and super-national identities like religion, ethnicity, and community, to border disputes brought upon by indifferent colonial line-drawers and chaotic independence, is particularly novel in the Middle East. And indeed, with a largely Mizrahi Jewish identity, Israel's own cultural heartbeat is at this point more Middle Eastern than Ashkenazi-European (via).

DOJ and Army Corps of Engineers announce a moratorium on pipeline building protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. More importantly, they look to be launching a more formal consultation process with tribal governments regarding how (either through current or new legislation) to better involve tribes in the planning and review process of infrastructural projects that touch or affect tribal lands or treaty rights.


Friday, September 09, 2016

On Listening to Us: A Follow Through on the Brooklyn Commons

As you probably know, Brooklyn Commons, a progressive space in New York, hosted a 9/11 truther anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist by the name of Christopher Bollyn yesterday. For an account of the event and the (apparently small, but present) protest, Ha'aretz and the Forward both have good write-ups.

My Tablet article on what progressives can learn from the debacle has gotten a relatively positive reception, and I wanted to take a moment to follow-through now that we're starting to get a better sense of how the broader progressive community is reacting to the event. And the first thing I want to flag is how one group, in particular, has responded. The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research -- a resident organization of the Commons -- distinguished itself off the bat by organizing an early letter condemning the event that gathered the signatures of nine other Commons tenants. They have also now announced they are withdrawing from the Commons outright, and their Executive Director issued a thoughtful personal letter situating the sort of conspiratorial anti-Semitism Bollyn peddles as the handmaiden of fascism.

I make special note of this because one of the "costly" measures I suggested to be taken in opposition to this form of anti-Semitism -- in addition to the "cheap" action of condemning a neo-Nazi -- was to leave the space. And BISR has done that, and they deserve genuine credit and praise for that. This not to downplay the importance of the other "costly" actions I suggested, but it is fair to note that things like "take Jewish claims of anti-Semitism more seriously" are not the sort of things one can demonstrate in the course of the day. In terms of immediate, tangible, concrete steps I outlined, "leaving the space" topped the list, and BISR did it. Kudos to them.

In general, there was much to be proud of in how the progressive community responded to this event. But there still remain areas of worry. And perhaps the most worrisome thing, for me, was the frequency with which groups condemning Bollyn and the Brooklyn Commons coupled their condemnations with assertions -- really, assurances -- that this event certainly didn't mean that most anti-Semitism claims, by most Jews, were worthy of credence. The Bollyn event was cast as the exceptional case where an anti-Semitism claim was on target -- and you know it was on target because the Good Jews, the ones who recognize the typical falsity of the charge, were telling you so. Even as they affirmed that this was a Real Deal anti-Semitism, they still rushed to reinforce the narrative that anti-Semitism claims are typically fake, ginned-up, bad-faith efforts to secure political advantage.

Consider the statement of IfNotNow (which hosted an event at the Commons last week but has threatened to pull them going forward):
As a Jewish movement focused on the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel, we have thought deeply about contemporary anti-Semitism and the ways it is often falsely invoked for political gain. Criticizing the policies of the Israeli government — or any government — is not anti-Semitism. Blaming a cabal of malicious Jews for orchestrating the tragic events of 9/11 is. Christopher Bollyn is a real anti-Semite.
Jewish Voice for Peace's initial statement -- to my shock -- did not invoke this trope. But that changed when one of their officials took an entire column in Forward to stress that, in contrast to the "true" anti-Semitism of Bollyn, most of what most Jews call anti-Semitism are false alarms:
It’s unfortunate that Bollyn and his ilk are not the only ones who conflate the state of Israel and the Jewish people. It does not help us fight truly dangerous anti-Semitic narratives when the state of Israel claims to represent all of us Jews, nor when American Jewish organizations use the power that they have to silence criticism of the state. 
[...]
We all have to be able to challenge real anti-Semitism when it occurs. The prevalence of false accusations of anti-Semitism against those who advocate for Palestinian human rights, including those who see boycott, divestment and sanctions as tools to achieve those rights, are harmful toward the goal of fighting all forms of bigotry and oppression.
Both organizations are saying much the same thing: We recognize that most or many claims of anti-Semitism aren't credible, are lies, are bad-faith political gambits. And so when we tell you this is "real" anti-Semitism, you should listen. But you should also continue to feel free to ignore those other Jews, most other Jews, the purveyors of falsehoods. Don't listen to them, listen to us.

This narrative is not sustainable as a means of fighting anti-Semitism. Indeed, it is itself a form of anti-Semitism. One cannot be committed to the idea of Jewish equality while simultaneously thinking most Jews are pathological liars about our own experience. One cannot be committed to the idea of Jewish inclusion while simultaneously maintaining that most of us can and should be excluded and ignored in public dialogue about ourselves. No serious struggle against anti-Semitism can proceed unless it is accepted that Jews have the right to have our claims regarding anti-Semitism taken seriously, even -- especially -- when it challenges what other people consider to be anti-Semitism. Elsewhere in the JVP post, the author urged Jews "to stop acting as if any criticism of [Israel] is" anti-Semitic. My standing offer continues to apply: I'm happy to agree to that statement (I don't know who doesn't agree to that statement) if she agrees that some criticism of Israel is. Some is anti-Semitic, some is not, and we determine what's what by looking at the particulars of the case, rather than sweeping them all aside as some sort of mass Jewish communal psychosis.

It's not a fair deal, of course: I never wanted to maintain that "any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic," it costs me nothing to give it up. But it costs the JVP everything to agree that it is always valid to consider anti-Semitism in the context of a given criticism of Israel; that we have to go through the inquiry, that we have work past the easy cases of conscious bias to dig in the rough soil of structural discrimination and implicit bias. All this talk about the regularity of bad, bogus, false, bad-faith anti-Semitism allegations is fundamentally about avoiding that terrible obligation. The only way we can plausibly justify preemptively dismissing anti-Semitism as even a possibility is by casting the whole discourse as diseased, as a form of "silencing" -- the classic conservative move that trumps the (largely mythical) "race card" with the (very real) "'race card' card".

One of the wonderful outcroppings of my post was a great conversation I was able to have on twitter with Daniel Sieradski (who, as I noted, did great work to put Bollyn's appearance on the left-wing Jewish map and to organize a communal response to it). It spanned wide, but it did eventually come around to this topic and how alienating it was to continually read left-wing Jews promote the systematic, preemptive, presumptive dismissal of anti-Semitic claims. I told him that I respect the right of dissident Jewish groups to dissent from the conventional Jewish views on anti-Semitism. It cannot be the case that Jews are obligated to censor their own truly-felt beliefs simply because other Jews disagree. The only obligation such Jews incurred, I argued, was that they could not offer their perspective as a replacement for listening to other Jews. They cannot validly say "don't listen to them, listen to us."

And Daniel wrote back with a very understandable reply: "Except we don't want the Jewish establishment speaking for us." By definition, dissident Jewish leftists (and, for that matter, Jewish rightists -- the same logic applies to ZOA types who also want to discredit the median liberal Jewish position) think the establishment is getting it wrong -- and wrong in a very serious way. Of course they want other people to listen to "us" and not "them." And for groups frustrated that they feel unheard or uninfluential in the Jewish community, of course it is tempting to promote narratives which elevate their credibility and undermine that of those institutions they think are getting it badly, badly wrong.

An understandable response. But ultimately, not a sustainable one -- which becomes clear if one looks at it from the vantage of the non-Jew's obligations vis-a-vis Jews and anti-Semitism. Because clearly, a non-Jew seriously committed to engaging with Jewish perspectives cannot fulfill that duty by cherry-picking the Jews he or she already agrees with. Engaging with the other cannot be an exercise in "looking over the crowd, and picking out your friends." Black conservatives have the right to dissent from their communal orthodoxy. But White conservatives cannot say that they've engaged in full, thoughtful consideration of matters of racism or Black experiences by reading Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain, and Ben Carson.

So there is a dark symbiosis at work here. The JVP-types leech credibility from Jews as a whole and arrogate it to themselves -- this is what it means to say "don't listen to them, listen to us." And meanwhile, those non-Jews who want very much to disbelieve Jews, to discredit Jews, to mistrust Jews, to marginalize Jews -- of course they will be delighted to hear (from other Jews, no less!) that their instincts are correct. They are hearing exactly what they wanted to hear, and receiving the validation that they desperately crave. And so they happily credit as exceptional "good Jews" those who provide them what they thirst for.

Ultimately this approach won't even work for the dissidents. For they will find that their enhanced standing (to borrow from Derrick Bell) withers away as soon as they cease to agree with their partners. Why wouldn't it? If someone is listening to you because they genuinely care about what Jews think, they'll continue to listen even if you say something that discomforts them. But if they're listening to you because you're saying what they already wanted to hear, of course they'll move on once you stop. JVP has certainly found this out -- when it (finally) condemned Alison Weir, Weir's supporters did not stop to reassess -- they turned on JVP and simply lobbed back the standard lines about Jews always crying anti-Semitism that JVP has been peddling for years. Where engagement isn't predicated on a baseline commitment to listen to the other even when it doesn't say that which you already believe, this is the inevitable result.

Indeed, I suggest we saw this dynamic in the Brooklyn Commons case. Certainly, many progressive organizations rallied against Bollyn and the Commons. But I doubt most of them needed persuading that 9/11 trutherism and the Protocols were anti-Semitic (and thank goodness for that!). We were not asking them to act against their instincts, to consider Jews in a hard (costly, differentiated) case. By contrast, it is the reaction of the proprietor of the Commons, Melissa Ennen, that is more interesting -- for she was herself a 9/11 truther, she didn't come in already agreeing. For her, we were asking her to listen and heed us even when the initial claim didn't resonate. And people -- people whom she had worked with, people who considered her a friend, people who had been part of her community for years -- expressed shock that their condemnations and pleas seemed to have no effect on her.

I'm not shocked. For ask yourself this: How many times do think Ennen, in her political circle, among her friends, within her community, had been told of the "prevalence of false accusations of anti-Semitism" (JVP)? How many times had she heard that anti-Semitism is "often falsely invoked for political gain" (If Not Now)? That was her atmosphere, that was the air she breathed. Is it really that surprising that, when the moment of reckoning came, she would dismiss us? She was merely applying the lessons she had been taught.

The narrative that anti-Semitism claims are frequently false, often in bad faith, and rarely need to be engaged with seriously and charitably -- this is the narrative that ultimately kneecaps our efforts to get others to confront anti-Semitism when it isn't easy, or natural, or cheap. Until persons agree to take that radical, scary, costly step of "taking [us] seriously, believing that what we say about ourselves and our experience is important and valid, even when (or perhaps especially when) it has little or no relationship to what has been or is being said about us," we will reenact these incidents over and over again. If our script remains the same, the play will never end differently.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Five Lessons Progressives Can Learn from the Brooklyn Commons Debacle

Today, the Brooklyn Commons -- a progressive meeting and working space in New York City -- is hosting an avowed anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist on the subject of 9/11 as an inside job by the "Israeli/Zionist and Neo-Conservative cabal that controls our government and media." So that's lovely. The event has garnered widespread condemnation on the left, including by many of the Commons' resident organizations -- and that's a good thing. But there are lessons progressives can draw from it -- and I give five of them in an article published today in Tablet Magazine.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Swarthmore Anti-Semitism Experiment

After swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti appeared at Swarthmore College, William Meyer penned an excellent column that lucidly lays out the difficulties many Jews have in getting anti-Semitism taken seriously. I don't have much commentary (beyond my now-cliched pointer to my "Playing with Cards" article), but I did want to promote it. And the following line, in particular, deserves excerpting:
The greatest barrier to confronting anti-Semitism in 2016 seems to be proving that it exists.
Truth.