Background Briefing: May 5, 2024

The House Speaker Uses an Antisemitic Trope Blaming George Soros as he Launches Hearings on Antisemitism on Campuses

We begin with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton referring to the pro-Palestinian student encampments as “the little Gazas that have risen up on campuses across America,” which he dismissed as “disgusting cesspools of antisemitic hate full of pro-Hamas sympathizers, fanatics and freaks.” Not to be outdone, House Speaker Johnson, who has scheduled hearings this week on antisemitism on campuses, blames overseas forces and George Soros for poisoning the minds of young Americans, using an antisemitic trope to further the phony cause of combating antisemitism. Joining us is John Nichols, The Nation magazine’s Washington correspondent. His books include The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party: The Enduring Legacy of Henry Wallace’s Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist Politics, and most recently, Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis. We discuss his latest article at The Nation, “The House Antisemitism Bill Is an Amalgam of ‘Pointless Gestures and Posturing.’”


The Role of Right Wing, Christian Zionist and MAGA Provocateurs in Campus Violence

Then we examine the role of right wing, Christian Zionist and MAGA provocateurs infiltrating campuses to attack pro-Palestinian student protesters as the one-sided issue of fighting antisemitism becomes a Republican election year cause. Joining us is Harold Meyerson, one of the nation’s best-known progressive columnists and editor-at-large of The American Prospect. He also writes regularly about California politics for the Los Angeles Times and other national publications, and we discuss his latest article at the American Prospect, “What College Presidents Need to Learn and What Joe Biden had Better Learn.”


Models of Dialogue and Deescalation as Outside Opportunists Stoke Violence on Campuses

Then finally we speak with Brian Levin, a Criminologist, civil rights attorney, professor of criminal justice and founder of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino where he specializes in analysis of hate crime, terrorism and legal issues. Previously, Professor Levin served as Associate Director-Legal Affairs of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch/Militia Task Force in Montgomery, Alabama; and he has testified before Congresses Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. We discuss models of dialogue and deescalation in the face of outside opportunists stoking violence and division on campuses.