Morning Joe Hails Colleges Cracking Down on Pro-Hamas Protesters!

April 19th, 2024 4:20 PM

Mika Brzezinski Joe Scarborough Jonathan Greenblatt Jeremy Peters MSNBC Morning Joe 4-19-24 On Thursday, Morning Joe treated us to surprising praise for Speaker Mike Johnson -- albeit regarding his support for aid to Ukraine, something dear to Joe Scarborough.

Friday brought another surprise: tough talk about the pro-Hamas protesters wreaking havoc on American campuses, and praise for university administrators taking action to curb their excesses.

Thus, Joe Scarborough condemned students occupying the offices of college presidents, even suggesting that any president who tolerates that should "seek employment elsewhere." At one point, Scarborough even called protesters who blocked graduation speakers "brats."

Willie Geist spoke positively about the chancellor of his alma mater, Vanderbilt, who actually expelled three students who had occupied his office.

New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters has written an article on the matter: "Colleges Warn Student Demonstrators: Enough." As a panelist on Morning Joe, he criticized protesters at the University of Michigan, his alma mater, who had marred what was supposed to be a joyful event for outstanding students. He also acknowledged that college administrators have been slow in dealing with these problems. He cited the Trump years during which speakers who were conservative, or affiliated with Trump, were often canceled or shouted down. 

President Biden is reported to be "obsessed" with Morning Joe, so much so that he has made Scarborough a frequent phone buddy and informal adviser. But if Biden tuned in on Friday, he couldn't have been thrilled with the panel's take. Biden's already under pressure from the Pro-Hamas/River to the Sea wing of the Democrat party.  And now even the liberal media is starting to call for crackdowns on those protesters? Oy vey!

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe 
6:47 am EDT

WILLIE GEIST: So Joe, yesterday, you saw another case, several in recent weeks, where heads of school, chancellors, administrators, have said, there is a line now between free speech. We've allowed you to protest, we've allowed you to go to certain places. We've opened dialogues on our  campus, given you a place to have these debates. 

But when it comes to harassment of Jewish students, when it comes to interrupting the operations of, say, a class, or a speaker, or people moving through the campus, we're now saying, you can't do that anymore.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, exactly. Whether you're talking about the, the interruption of the functioning of the Golden Gate Bridge, or the normal functioning of Columbia University, you know, it's, it's too much. It's too much. You can have free speech without, again, stopping the normal functioning of these institutions. 

. . . 

And so, I'm glad the president of Columbia University has stepped forward. You know, some people may call allowing students to take over president's offices at Columbia in the 1960s a storied tradition. I don't. I call that anarchy. Like, if you're a president of the university and you're letting students take over your office, maybe, maybe you should seek employment elsewhere. 

Because I guarantee you there are a lot of parents that send their children to schools who don't want students running the place. They'd like grown-ups to run the place. And it looks like that's what's happening in Columbia.

GEIST: Yeah. I'll speak for -- you know, I went to Vanderbilt University. They've had a lot of this on their campus in recent weeks. And a group of students a couple of weeks ago pushed their way into Kirkland Hall, where the chancellor's office is. They pushed aside an unarmed security guard, they sat there for 20 hours doing exactly what you're talking about, Joe.

And Chancellor Diermeier, who runs Vanderbilt, ultimately said, okay, you're all suspended. And then one by one, reviewed their cases and expelled three of the students.


GEIST: And said, we've given you a place to have free speech. We've given you a place to protest. We've given you a place to voice your opinion. We've created symposiums where both sides of this discussion can be heard. You didn't participate in that, but you broke into our office and sat here. So now, three of you are no longer students of Vanderbilt University. And that was one of the first schools, actually, to do that, and I think you've seen more if it now since then. 

Jeremy Peters, the national reporter for the New York Times is writing about this. He's got new reporting on how those administrators are now responding to a surge in anti-Israel protests on campus. Also with us, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt. His group is out with new data on antisemitic incidents in the United States in the last year. Good morning to you both.

Jeremy, I'll begin with you. It does seem to have been, just within the last couple of weeks even, a bit of a change in the approach that some, not all, that some leaders of campuses, of universities across the country, are taking with these protests. What did you find in your reporting?

JEREMY PETERS: That's exactly right, Willie. Schools have had enough. And Vanderbilt issued what are believed to be the first expulsions of student protesters related to demonstrations stemming from the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel.And from Vanderbilt to NYU, to Columbia, to the University of Michigan, to Pomona, schools are saying, basically, look, this is not about free speech. You have a right to speak up. You have a right to demonstrate. What you don't have is a right to harass and disrupt.

And that's what's really been impeding these universities core mission, which is to educate your students. And you can't have an environment that is constantly disrupted, where students are subject to harassment, where they're spit upon, where they're yelled at. 

Where graduation ceremonies, or like the incident I wrote about at my alma mater, the University of Michigan, this honors convocation that was supposed to be this kind of lovely, celebratory moment where kids who were the highest-achieving students are honored. Their parents and grandparents are there. And shat happened? It got disrupted and had to be shut down early because of pro-Palestinian protesters were standing up and shouting down speakers and unfurling banners.

And this is something I think universities have been slow to acknowledge. I mean, remember during the Trump years, universities really became this, this cauldron of protest activity, where this kind of overly censorious culture developed. Where if there was a speaker who was conservative, or aligned with Trump, instead of letting that person speak, a lot of times the speach would be canceled out of fear for the safety of that speaker. Or people would interrupt the speaker.

And now, you know, I think universities are saying, we didn't do enough to rein that in, but now they are.

SCARBOROUGH: And, you know, the thing is, that's happened over the past couple of years. But this has been a problem for a long time. I'll just say it, brats who are protesting when, say, Christine Lagarde tries to speak at a graduation, or Condi Rice tries to speak at a graduation, or I think even Christine Todd Whitman one time was canceled from speaking at the graduation! 

I gotta say, you're either the adult running the campus, or you're the child, that is incapable of controlling students. The students are there to learn. That means IIall the students are there to learn. Not just students who decide this one issue is the most important issue to them. And I certainly understand, if Gaza is the most important issue, especially to Palestinian students in America.

But it goes well beyond that. You can't shut down an entire campus.Your right to free speech doesn't mean your right to impinge upon everybody else's free speech and their ability to unction in a university setting.