The religious fervor of radical student protests

A New York University professor over the weekend praised the anti-Israel student encampment that has taken over his school’s campus for bringing students and faculty together in a way he’s “never seen before.”

“I spent two hours at the NYU encampment late last night. It was something I’ve never seen before at NYU: a real community, driven by shared ideals and filled with conversations about ideas. We need more of it, not less,” Jacob Remes, a clinical professor at NYU Gallatin, said on Sunday.

Those “shared ideals,” of course, happen to be a hatred of the state of Israel, the United States, and the Western values underpinning both, and the “ideas” being debated are about how to best get rid of them all. According to Remes, that’s what passes for a “real community” these days.

The comment is a sad but revealing glimpse into the motivations behind the disruptive and despicable protests that have taken over college campuses across the country in recent weeks. The majority of students (and faculty members!) participating in the encampments are doing so not because they care about the plight of Palestinians or the war in Gaza but because they find identity, belonging, and community in upholding the demands of leftism. 

This noxious ideology has become their religion, and the privileged students attending some of the most revered educational institutions in the world are its faithful adherents.

One of the Left’s religious tenets requires opposing designated “oppressors” — even if the oppressors, in this case Israel and the U.S., are far more tolerant of the Left’s worldview than a Palestinian government ever would be. It doesn’t need to make sense so long as one has enough faith in the moral rightness of this contradiction.

The leftist religion also extends far beyond the current conflict in Gaza. Its influence has been present in just about every recent cultural battle, including the debate over COVID-19 restrictions and the Black Lives Matter riots. Ever wonder why so many of the students involved in these anti-Israel encampments are still wearing masks in the year of our Lord 2024 or why local BLM groups were among the first to express support for Hamas after the terrorists slaughtered hundreds of innocent civilians on Oct. 7? Because faithful adherence to leftism demands it.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many young adults have gotten caught up in this fervor. My generation was the first to grow up on social media, which has had a profoundly isolating effect on everyone, but especially on young, impressionable minds. Add to that the increasing instability of the family unit, declining church attendance, and the breakdown of other communal institutions over the past couple of decades, and you’re left with a confused and desperate generation looking for meaning anywhere they can get it. And the Left was all too ready to provide it.

Only when we understand the depth of young adults’ religious commitment to the Left, then, will we be able to address the ways in which it manifests — the latest student outbursts included. 


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