Ivy Infusion: 'Left-Wing Jihad' at Columbia

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THE MINUTEMAN BRAWL at Columbia on Wednesday night gathered even more steam over the weekend, with Fox News taking on the protest as a cause célèbre and President Lee Bollinger attempting to stem the fallout. For those following this story closely (catch up here, if not), there's some new must-see video:

— Bill O'Reilly hosted the president of the college Republicans and the editor of the Blue and White on Friday's show, tearing into Columbia's students and faculty, which he said are engaged in "a left-wing jihad." Also see a transcript of O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo," in which he calls Columbia the "University of Havana, North." Not quite the "Kremlin on the Charles," but blistering nonetheless. The segments are a fascinating look at conservative critiques of the Ivy League.

— The Spectator, meanwhile, leads today's paper with a critical new development: Video shot by Univision, the Spanish-language network, clearly shows a man on stage kicking a protestor. That throws a bit of a wrench into the current outcry, since there has yet to emerge any visual documentation of kicking or punching on the part of protestors. Comments the Blue and White blog: "You don't have to speak the Spanish for footage of Minutemen kicking protesters to change how you look at things." Of course, the brawl was still provoked by the protestors who stormed the stage. The kicker could not be identified, but the Spec finds another picture of him at a Minuteman rally at the Mexican consulate in June, raising the possibility that he is not a Columbia student.

Most campus groups at Columbia "have officially distanced themselves from the actions of individual students," the Spec says in its off-lead. But in a "Message From the Protestors," published amid a flurry of opinion pieces today in the Spec, a Columbia senior offers the first substantial defense "on behalf" of those who stormed the stage:
When we walked on stage on the night of Oct. 4, with anti-racist banners for immigrant rights, we were met with violent attacks by Gilchrist's goons. We were the ones who were punched and kicked. We are proud that despite these attacks, we held our ground. When Gilchrist walked off stage, it was because he and his Minutemen outfit were isolated.

This is not an issue of free speech. The Minutemen were able to reserve a hall at our university and had the protection of campus security and the NYPD-all to espouse their hate speech. We along with hundreds of others expressed our right to speak and protest.
The Spec also reports that the student government unanimously passed a free-speech resolution, stating in part that "it is unacceptable within our community, to take away someone else's right to express their opinions and viewpoints." Bollinger issued a statement on Friday afternoon:
Let me reaffirm: In a society committed to free speech, there will inevitably be times when speakers use words that anger, provoke, and even cause pain. Then, more than ever, we are called on to maintain our courage to confront bad words with better words. That is the hallmark of a university and of our democratic society. It is also one of our central safeguards against the impulses of intolerance that always threaten to engulf our commitment to proper respect for every person.

In a triplet of staff editorials, the Spec calls the protest "absolutely disgraceful," but also criticizes the national media for their coverage and asks the administration to use caution in searching for Facebook as part of its investigation. A slew of other opinion pieces are available here—including a few unrelated to the Minuteman fiasco, believe it or not.

This will obviously continue to dominate the Spec and the Columbia community for much of the week, and the administration may have to move beyond strongly worded missives. In the meantime, someone has to figure this out: Is it Minuteman or Minutemen? (Or, perhaps, Two-Pump Chump?) The groups's official name is the Minuteman Project, singular, but their troops are collectively known as the Minutemen, plural. The Spec has used both, with no clear rhyme or reason, and it's time to standardize for the sake of style mavens everywhere.

Also, why have none of the other Ivy papers picked this up? They've all got comparable examples, and whatever Columbia ends up doing could well have an effect on college protests across the Elite Eight.

PRINCETON'S STUDENT BODY president placed the ball in the administration's court last week with a substantial critique of the school's grade-capping policy. Today the Daily Princetonian offers a volley from the dean of the college, dismissing the critique, which noted that Princeton admitted more academically talented students in the period when GPAs began to rise. The dean's response is in two parts: 1) The reasoning is flawed; and 2) Even if it weren't flawed, Princeton still has "the responsibility to hold [students] to higher standards." It's unclear where this leaves the student body, except still pissed off about their grades.

THE DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN runs an interesting piece on websites that predict your chances of getting into particular schools:

Questions range from the basic to the blunt. ThickEnvelope, for example, asks clients: "Would you say that your mother or father is a nationally recognized, very important person or well-known celebrity?"
What the DP doesn't do, but could have, is pay for some ex-post-facto predicting, checking to see if the sites are any good at guessing whether current Penn students would be admitted to the school.

THE OTHER IVY papers take a break for Columbus Day. Harvard and Brown have a day off. Cornell is on vacation. The Dartmouth stretches the limits of a slow-news day. And the Yale Daily News' website says its outgoing editors were to publish their "Joke Issue" today, but in a tragic turn of events, it's not online! Hey, guys, why so shy? The DP publishes its joke issue for all the world to see.

—Ivy Infusion considered taking today off. Send comments, insights and other regrets to ivyinfusion@gmail.com.