Now The Students Are "Terrorists"

Politicians and administrators are playing the 9/11 Era hits against students protesting a genocide—and want so badly to kill them

Now The Students Are "Terrorists"
Protesters outside Furnald Hall at Columbia University. By SWinxy, via Wikimedia Commons

Edited by Sam Thielman

"THIS ISN'T ABOUT POLITICS; it’s about recognizing and condemning terrorism and violence,” said Republican State Senator Brandon Creighton from Conroe, Texas, on the subject of peaceful protests at the University of Texas-Austin, like others across the U.S., against the genocide Israel is conducting against the people of Palestine. I love the sound of free speech in the morning. 

Creighton, who chairs the Texas legislature's education committee, posted that as Texas police and state troopers, some on horseback and others wearing plate carriers—against unarmed students—threw students to the ground, ziptied and arrested them. The violent ones were not the students disgusted by U.S.-assisted genocide. 

From Columbia University in Manhattan to the University of Southern California, police repression of student occupations of campus isn't stopping those demonstrations. By most accounts I've read this week, they're making students realize the desperation of the administrators they're trying to influence, to say nothing of the desperation of the broader political structure in the U.S. that's supporting the Israeli devastation of Gaza. 

And so those authorities are turning to a language they understand, and have grown comfortable using over the past 20-plus years of normalization: the language of terrorism and counterterrorism. 

"There is an appropriate time for the National Guard," said Speaker of the House Mike Johnson at a Columbia press conference on Wednesday. Students were so unintimated by the dweebish accidental speaker that they heckled him and his colleagues, who were left sputtering that Hamas supports them and they should be ashamed. 

But they are not ashamed. They dismiss the claims to moral leadership of those who would provide weapons and apologies for a genocide. So they must be called the handmaidens of terrorists, and treated as such.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page is playing the 9/11 Era hits. The students are really Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis. It's also reaching deeper to play the Civil Rights Era hits, updated for the MAGA Era. The students are outside agitators, funded by Rockefeller and Soros Money—the latter being the respectable way to say Jew Money, and also the way that right-wing Jews like op-ed writer Ira Stoll seek acceptance from the white nationalists

Sen. Tom Cotton, last seen demanding U.S. infantry mow down Black Lives Matter protesters, calls for drivers inconvenienced by pro-Palestine demonstrations to "take matters into their own hands." Benjamin Netanyahu, the architect of a genocide in progress, compares nonviolent students to Nazis and declares that "more has to be done" to silence them. Meanwhile, mass graves are being discovered on the grounds of the Shifa and Nasser hospitals in Gaza that the Israel Defense Forces sacked.

Not a single one of these frauds care for an instant about the safety of Jews, their supposed motivation. Jews are among the protesters. Jewish students protesting at Columbia held shabbos services, even as some of them were locked off campus as threats to the safety of… themselves. "This hits home the absurdity of current discourse," Rabbi Abby Stein posted from the service. To read that absurdity as a text, it is a text that distinguishes Real Jews from Fake Jews through their allegiance to Zionism, in keeping with how similar 19th century European nationalisms distinguish Real Citizens from Conditional Citizens, with the Conditional Citizens' lives being far cheaper, if not forfeit.  But the Zionists do not speak for us Jews, and the louder we anti-Zionist Jews become, the greater their fear, their hatred, and their absurdity.  

Johnson, Creighton, Cotton and their fellows want so badly for the National Guard to kill these kids. Yet the supposed threat from the protesting students at Columbia is so clearly nonexistent that even the NYPD Chief of Patrol, John Chell, said that the students "that were arrested were peaceful, offered no resistance whatsoever, and were saying what they wanted to say in a peaceful manner." For people like Johnson, any time is an appropriate time to send men with guns after those who speak truths about U.S.-sponsored (or -committed) oppression. 

All those violent desires were licensed and turned respectable by the War on Terror, though the War on Terror was far from the first time, and normalized through its generation-long persistence. (I can recommend a book about how that happened.) The recently expanded mass surveillance Johnson helped pass and President Biden signed this week can easily be a tool to persecute people and organizations, on campus and off, who reject the atrocities that Israel commits. It is the latest reminder, if any were needed, of the urgent need to abolish the authorities, institutions and operations of the War on Terror before they kill again. 

WALLER VS. WILDSTORM, the superhero spy thriller I co-wrote with my friend Evan Narcisse and which the masterful Jesús Merino illustrated, is available for purchase in a hardcover edition! If you don't have single issues of WVW and you want a four-issue set signed by me, they're going fast at Bulletproof Comics

No one is prouder of WVW than her older sibling, REIGN OF TERROR: HOW THE 9/11 ERA DESTABILIZED AMERICA AND PRODUCED TRUMP, which is available now in hardcover, softcover, audiobook and Kindle edition. And on the way is a new addition to the family: THE TORTURE AND DELIVERANCE OF MAJID KHAN