Suzanna Sherry on DEI/Critical Race Theory and Antisemitism

Professor Sherry is an emerita professor at Vanderbilt Law School. Back in 1997, she and Professor Daniel Farber wrote a book, Beyond All Reason, critiquing Critical Race Theory. Perhaps their most controversial argument was that Critical Race Theory, in denying that there was such a thing as objective merit, and attributing all group differences to racism, was implicitly antisemitic in its inability to explain American Jewish success without resorting to antisemitic conspiracy theory.

Professor Sherry (who, by the way, is a political liberal), has written a short followup, DEI and Antisemitism: Bred in the Bone. Here is the abstract:

Last October, progressive Jews were shocked by the raw antisemitism displayed by their erstwhile allies on the political left. After Hamas terrorists tortured, raped, or murdered more than 1200 Israeli civilians and took some 200 civilians hostage, some progressives – especially on college campuses – celebrated. They chanted the Palestinian mantra “from the river to the sea,” seeking to erase Israel (and Jews) from the face of the earth. The number of antisemitic incidents on campus soared, coming from both students and faculty. A Stanford lecturer forced Jewish students to the back of the classroom and labeled them “colonizers.” Jewish students had to barricade themselves inside a library at Cooper Union, and Jewish students at MIT were told by faculty to avoid the university’s main lobby for their own safety. Many university presidents who had previously sent out campus-wide emails condemning the murder of George Floyd, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the overruling of Roe v. Wade, and countless other world events suddenly discovered the Kalven Principles and claimed it would be inappropriate for them to take sides, or issued weak statements about how the situation in the Middle East was complicated. This double standard continued as some universities responded to student calls for genocide of Jews by invoking principles of free speech, principles that had been notably ignored when the speech in question was directed at other groups. Most campus DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) offices, especially at the most elite universities, had nothing to say about the surging antisemitism.

This essay explains why no one should have been shocked, or even mildly surprised, by the progressive response to the massacre. Progressive or “woke” culture –as exemplified by critical race theory, anti-racism of the Ibram X. Kendi variety, and, especially on college campuses, the DEI juggernaut – is necessarily and inevitably antisemitic at its core. That these related movements have now exposed their antisemitism publicly is no surprise: antisemitism is bred in their bones.

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