The hysterical reaction to the Columbia protests is proof.

by Jack Mirkinson, Discourse Blog

As a New York City resident, I take an interest in where my tax dollars are spent. Yesterday, at least some of those dollars were being spent to pay NYPD cops to hang around—in riot helmets—outside the locked gates of Columbia University. (Presumably, Columbia paid for the festive balloons on the gates.)

The vibes at Columbia were exactly as strange and slightly ridiculous as that picture when I swung by on Sunday. I’m on record as saying that I don’t think we should spend much time as a society stressing about what happens on fancy college campuses, but the Columbia leadership’s wildly over-the-top reaction to the decision by some students to sit in tents on the quad as part of a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” had turned the school into a national news story, and the students are being very courageous in the face of the full repressive force of both Columbia and New York City. Besides (looks down shamefacedly) I am technically a Columbia alum, so I was intrigued.

columbia university campus

Even two blocks away, you wouldn’t have known anything was going on. Morningside Heights was its usual placid self. At 116th and Broadway, a small clutch of protesters was penned in by barricades and chanting, watched over by yet more cops. It’s no slight on the protesters to say that this hardly seemed like a national security crisis.

But I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder. As I strolled past the protesters, I passed a guy screaming into his phone, “I don’t fucking care! There’s a riot on campus! People are in danger!” Reader, there was no riot on campus. There wasn’t even much noise.

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