Rantz: Are the pro-Hamas, Columbia University protesters the new Black Lives Matter radicals?

Apr 19, 2024, 11:30 AM | Updated: 12:40 pm

Columbia University protesters...

Police take security measures as demonstrators gather outside Columbia University to support the students' "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" demonstration held on South Lawn of Columbia University campus. (Photo: Selcuk Acar, Getty Images)

(Photo: Selcuk Acar, Getty Images)

Scores of antisemitic, pro-Hamas student protesters and activists were arrested at Columbia University on Thursday for trespassing, after forming a Jew-hating encampment. You can already see the same script from the Black Lives Matter and Antifa violence being rewritten. How police and lawmakers respond in the next week will likely tell us if we’re in for another “Summer of Love” like what we saw in Seattle.

The activist encampment formed Wednesday morning. In a lot of ways, it was like Gaza itself. A small group of radicals in less-than-ideal infrastructure trying to terrorize everyone around them, particularly Jewish students. Near the end of the day, police went in to ask everyone to leave or face arrest for trespassing.

New York Police arrested more than 100 activists, many of whom screamed children as they were being carted off. They wanted to be arrested. These are professional social justice martyrs searching for meaning in their empty lives. And, as was the case with BLM and Antifa radicals who formed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), they were romanticized by some in the media.

More from Jason Rantz: After defending Hamas, Seattle teacher Ian Golash put on administrative leave, father says

Are the Columbia University student protesters starting a movement like BLM?

The New York Times presented the post-arrest demonstration and encampment as celebratory “with dancing and pizza,” as if it wasn’t fueled by hate. “Planning to stay all night, they were in a rather upbeat mood, noshing on donated pizza and snacks. An impromptu dance party had even broken out,” the report said. It sounds a lot like the media claims that CHAZ was like a street festival.

Meanwhile, you have members of the Squad cheering the activists on. It makes sense: This is their base. And like her Jew-hating mother, Ilhan Omar’s daughter Isra Hirsi was one of the arrested activists. She is the epitome of the saying that hate is taught.

What comes next is important and it will mirror the aftermath of the initial protests and riots that led to CHAZ in Seattle.

The galvanizing effects of arrests

These activists believe that the arrests were oppressive and over the line, even though they were trying to be arrested. They know that mass arrests impacting their larger movement can galvanize other younger activists to join the cause. Being a social justice martyr is alluring to younger, disillusioned Americans. And bearing in mind these antisemites are mostly the same anti-capitalists that commandeered the BLM movement for political reasons, it gets easier to recruit younger people who are struggling in this inflationary economy.

“The police presence and the arrests do not deter us in any way,” 24-year-old activist Layla Saliba, a student from the School of Social Work, at a press conference.

“If anything,” she continued. “All of their repression towards us — it’s galvanized us. It’s moved us.” Her attitude is why the next week is so crucial.

What will happen next with this movement?

These radical activists will likely test police and lawmakers in the next week. There are already antisemitic protests planned around the country for this weekend, some in solidarity with the martyred social justice student protesters at Columbia University. Next week, in Washington, activists are trying to convince high school students to walk out of school in solidarity with the movement.

Activists want to see if law enforcement is allowed to make more arrests. If not, the activists will feel emboldened and continue their protests, while recruiting new members to their cause. They’re hoping that politicians won’t have the stomach for mass arrests of a key demographic for the Democrat party. And if that turns out to be the case, assuming the activists play their cards effectively, they’ll be able to take over whatever space they please.

After Seattle police responded to BLM and Antifa violence, then-mayor Jenny Durkan caved to the perpetually outraged activist mob. Not wanting to suffer political consequences for letting police arrest progressive activists, even though they were violent, Durkan ceded six city blocks to armed radicals. She even ordered the East Precinct emptied. Her political cowardice created CHAZ.

After Columbia University student protesters arrested, the next week may be crucial

Whether it’s in New York City or elsewhere, activists are playing the same game they did in Seattle (and Portland, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and elsewhere during the height of the BLM movement).

They’re expressing outrage, as they did after the pre-CHAZ arrests. And they’re threatening political consequences, which threatens President Joe Biden’s chance of re-election. Politicians know what’s on the line, as was the case with Durkan).

What happens next is up to both sides: activists will want to push on and show their strength and lawmakers will have to decide if they quash this antisemitic resolution (the way they didn’t do with the BLM and Antifa movement).

The best way to quash this dangerous, hateful movement is overwhelming police response to lawlessness. Democrats will need to speak loudly to condemn the hate, which they’ve been mostly reticent to do. The media and right-minded activist groups must name and shame the antisemites to disincentivize others to join the cause. They should know that if they are comfortable calling for the end of Israel and rooting for Hamas, we’re comfortable telling future employers who they would be wise to avoid.

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Rantz: Are the pro-Hamas, Columbia University protesters the new Black Lives Matter radicals?