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I’m a college student who escaped Iran. Liberal American colleges promote extremism and censor the truth

OpinionI’m a college student who escaped Iran. Liberal American colleges promote extremism and censor the truth

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American universities are championing terror in the name of free speech. As a dissident from the Islamic Republic of Iran and a student at The George Washington University, I recognize this as the logical outcome of the trend in universities to silence anyone who would speak out against authoritarian regimes. 

In recent days, our university campuses have witnessed a disturbing spectacle: students gathering not in the name of peace, but to celebrate the heinous acts of violence and terror perpetrated by Hamas against Israelis.  

Numerous law students from top schools signed letters explicitly saying that Israelis deserved to be killed. Although they got what they deserved when prestigious law firms rescinded offers from law students at NYU, Harvard, and Columbia, certain segments of the academic community still endorsed these demonstrations, and administrators failed to condemn these acts unequivocally, appealing to these students’ right to express their opinions.  

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Students like myself will tell you, however, that on these campuses, such opinions aren’t transgressive ideologies or niche political ideas that the rest of society must tolerate: These opinions, which are cultivated and championed by the universities themselves, are a blatant endorsement of violence and an affront to the very values our institutions of higher learning are supposed to uphold.  

Students protest for Palestinian people

An anti-Israel sign with the phrase “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” at a protest at Tulane University. The phrase supports the idea of wiping out Israel. (Credit: Ryan Zamos)

Murdering civilians is wrong no matter what. Yet, “pro-Palestine” student groups on campuses are framing the conflict as the battle of the “oppressed” against the “oppressor.” Many of my classmates who label themselves as “pro-Palestine” have told me that the violence against the Israeli people is justified because “Israel has oppressed Muslims for many years.” Not only do they have no sympathy for civilians who are killed in this conflict, they also do not want to talk about the real perpetrator of the recent attacks. 

I have lived in the Middle East and experienced the oppressive rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I have seen that this conflict is larger than Israel and Palestine’s age-old feud and plays a part in violence consuming the region. The attacks on Israel are fueled and supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran and have escalated on all sides of the nation’s borders. Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran, has launched attacks from the north, further fueling the flames of conflict. 

Nevertheless, my attempts to shed light on the brutality of extremist ideologies of the Islamic Republic regime and its allies — including Hamas and Hezbollah — were often silenced in the classroom and dismissed as “Islamophobic” by “liberal” professors and classmates.  

This manipulation of political correctness not only perpetuates ignorance but also fosters a breeding ground for extremism. Our commitment to open discourse has been compromised by an environment that values superficial harmony over the uncomfortable realities we must share and discuss. 

Now, I find it deeply troubling, though not surprising, when I see the affiliates of elite academic institutions — such as Yale University professor Zareena Grewal — glorify the acts of terror committed by Islamic extremists.  

By championing an organization that openly targets civilians, including women and children, these students are betraying the very ideals of justice and human rights that liberal values stand for. It is deeply concerning to witness fellow classmates, self-proclaimed liberals, turning a blind eye to the horrors perpetrated by extremist ideologies. This betrayal of our shared humanity and refusal to condemn such acts cannot be ignored.

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Many students lack a profound understanding of world history and politics, often falling victim to years of indoctrination that breed a deep-seated hatred towards classical liberal Western values. This ignorance becomes fertile ground for extremist ideologies like those espoused by Hamas, finding eager supporters among these impressionable minds.  

What’s most alarming is the way universities have become breeding grounds for this ignorance. By shutting down opposing viewpoints in the name of diversity and tolerance, these campuses perpetuate a toxic cycle.  

In recent days, our university campuses have witnessed a disturbing spectacle: students gathering not in the name of peace, but to celebrate the heinous acts of violence and terror perpetrated by Hamas against Israelis.  

For example, some mistakenly label Hamas as “freedom fighters” or call their horrendous acts of terror “decolonization.” These misnomers stem from a distorted and oversimplified view of the conflict. Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by numerous countries, has a documented history of violence against civilians, including suicide bombings and rocket attacks, which cannot be justified as acts of “freedom fighting.” 

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However, within the closed system of academia, some students fail to grasp the reality of Hamas’s actions and are even encouraged when they erroneously glorify the group, further perpetuating a dangerous misunderstanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Inaction in the face of this extremism is no longer an option. We must empower those who have faced the realities of religiously motivated violence to share their experiences openly, without fear of censorship or retribution. Only by confronting the uncomfortable truths and standing united against terror can we hope to dismantle the foundations upon which extremism thrives. 

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