(Source: / The Free Press)

When an Old Friend Is Ripping Down Posters of Kidnapped Children

Plus: ‘I was fired for setting academic standards.’

A disturbing and particular act of vandalism has gone viral in recent days. You’ve probably seen the videos online: people in cities across the West ripping down posters with the photographs and names of the hostages being held in Gaza. My colleague Candace Mittel Kahn was scrolling Instagram this week when she saw one such clip. 

“I almost skipped past it when I noticed something,” she writes in a piece for The Free Press. “After the woman finishes scraping the remainders of the poster from the street post, while muttering the word calba, the Arabic word for dog, she turns to the camera—presumably to the person filming her vandalism—and says, ‘Fuck you. Fuck you. And burn in hell.’ And that’s when my heart dropped: I know her.” 

In her brilliant piece, Candace tries to make sense of how a college friend ended up “standing on a street corner, tearing apart pictures of kidnapped Israelis and flinging them to the ground like a dirty tissue.” 

A lot of very smart people have been fired from teaching jobs at U.S. colleges for a lot of very dumb reasons in recent years. In many cases, professors have lost their jobs for wrongthink, an ill-considered tweet, or something else that has nothing to do with their jobs. 

In the case of Kendrick Morales, he was let go by Spelman College for doing the very thing I was naive enough to think professors were supposed to do: uphold academic standards. 

He tells this maddening tale in The Free Press today: 

Also in The Free Press today: 

Max Raskin interviews Sofie Berzon MacKie, a survivor of the attack on Kibbutz Be’eri, who hid in a safe room with her family for twenty hours. 

Here’s an excerpt from their conversation: 

MR: As a woman, were you afraid?

SBM: I wasn’t thinking like they’re going to rape me or anything. I was just, as a mother, I think. . . seeing the terror on my children’s faces once they’re in the safe room—that was a thought that absolutely broke my heart. So when they were really on our house trying to get in, I just sat. I held them and covered their eyes, because I just didn’t want to see the look on their faces when they see the people that are going to murder them. I prayed. I don’t believe in God. Not that I don’t believe that the world is a spiritual place, but I don’t believe in Him in the way any religion explains this force that moves through the universe that creates all things. But I was, in my heart, just begging for some force to let me out of that room. We sat there for so many hours, my heart was pounding in my chest the whole time. At some point, I started really shaking uncontrollably because of the adrenaline rush. Complete terror.

MR: Physically—other than your heart beating—what does that physically feel like to be in that kind of situation?

SBM: I can’t even describe it.

MR: Do you want to throw up? Do you want to go to the bathroom?

SBM: You want to throw up. You want to run away. You have this urge, crazy urge, that you have to oppress, to open the door and run, just run. And you have to really stop yourself from leaving your home because you just want to run. To have to sit there and wait, all your muscles become stiff. Your body becomes stiff. Your heart is beating. I got extremely thirsty at some point. My mouth was so, so dry. My daughter had terrible cramps in her stomach. She had an awful tummy ache, and her head was throbbing. Your body is screaming that this situation is unbearable. But here we are.

MR: I don’t know if this is a silly question, but are there any moments of levity in that whole thing?

SBM: No. At one point, when I understood that I am going to die, I couldn’t stand the fear that took hold of me. It was beyond anything I ever felt in my whole life, the most extreme feeling of panic, and terror, utter terror. So, I kind of took a look at my life, and I became very grateful for what I have, what I had—for my life’s trajectory and the people I met and the people I loved and who loved me back. And that was a really deep moment for me. It was, I don’t know, spiritual in a way, that I understood my life is going to end. It’s a fact.

Read the whole thing here

And we reprint a prescient 2014 speech by Alan Johnson in which he busts six myths about Hamas.

On Monday, we wrote that we sensed a lot of people have been changing their minds on big political questions since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. And judging by the huge response to Konstantin Kisin’s superb piece on “The Day the Delusions Died,” we were onto something. 

One commenter on Konstantin’s piece wrote: “I am exactly where your friend is. Went to bed a liberal on October 7, woke up a conservative on October 8. And if all the Republicans can muster as a candidate is Trump, and Biden for the Democrats, I am—gulp—voting for Trump.”

Another said: “Brilliant article! I am also one of those people who has become politically conservative overnight after this issue. Never thought I would vote conservative until now. Even when I saw illogical and harmful demands made about inclusion of trans women in sports, prisons, too much focus on skin color, I still thought at its core these people mean well and want to create a more equal society. They are misguided, brainwashed, and maybe misinformed due to hyperpolarization driven by social media. But there is no way anyone can brainwash a moral person to think that killing babies is a form of ‘resistance.’ ”

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