Drama In Queens

They weren’t college students in Portland or elite liberal arts students in Massachusetts. They were students at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens. And they wanted to be part of the action, to feel just as entitled to attack.

“I doubt half of them know how to spell Palestine,” a senior said.

“They just wanted to make drama about it,” a sophomore said of the teacher’s pro-Israel stance.

“Just, like, chaos. They thought of it as fun.”

The target of their outrage was a teacher, whose name was withhold from readers even though students knew her home address and phone number.

“The teacher was seen holding a sign of Israel, like supporting it,” a senior told The Post this week.

“A bunch of kids decided to make a group chat, expose her, talk about it, and then talk about starting a riot.”

Hundreds of kids flooded into hallways and ran amok, chanting, jumping, shouting, and waving Palestinian flags or banners.

As students tried to push into her classroom, the 23-year-veteran teacher was taken to a locked office for protection from the rioting students. Police eventually were able to get her out of the building safely, but the students demanded she be fired and it’s hard to imagine her safe return to the school.

What gives rise to such vehemence among high school students. Much is made of the radicalization of college students, whether by their teachers or peers, but high school? While the rhetoric about tolerance and dignity toward some no doubt filters down, and they had to get the Palestinian flags from somewhere, did most really know the complex geopolitical causes for why they were so outraged?

City Councilman James Gennaro didn’t think so.

Gennaro, whose district includes the school, said the Israel-Gaza war gave kids “a convenient excuse” to act out.

“It went from a teacher just changing a photograph on her social profile to this contagion of hate being released in the halls of Hillcrest High School,” Gennaro said.

“It’s a sad commentary on the rancid hate that exists within the hearts of students — for Jews.”

While it may well have one foot in the acceptability of anti-Semitism, a thread of discrimination, intolerance and hatred that’s not merely permitted, but strongly encouraged with its own litany of excuses for why it’s really good to hate Jews, actually. But there’s another foot in the pure enjoyment of marching, protesting and rioting for kicks. This became clear during the BLM protests/riots, where kids admitted that burning, looting and destroying were good times, a fun way to get some exercise, fresh air and maybe a cool pair of Air Jordans in the process. Plus, they got to pretend they were being the good guys for doing so. Win-win-win.

On campus, academics argue that they aren’t responsible for their radicalization of students, a proposition that they choose to desperately believe despite all indications to the contrary. After all, when the only correct answer on the quiz is “white supremacy,” it suggests they are very much part of the problem.

But to be fair, if the kids in high school are already sufficiently radicalized that they feel empowered to try to harm a teacher, that their hatred of a teachers is sufficiently justified to behave in this fashion, maybe the profs aren’t the problem and the students are already lost before reaching that small elite New England liberal arts college.

For her part, the teacher targeted by the students responded with the usual insipid words.

“I have been a teacher for 23 years in the New York City public school system — for the last seven at Hillcrest High School. I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week.”

“No one should ever feel unsafe at school — students and teachers alike,” she added.

The teacher continued: “It’s my hope in the days ahead we can find a way to have meaningful discussions about challenging topics with respect for each other’s diverse perspectives and shared humanity,” the teacher said in her statement. “Unless we can learn to see each other as people we will never be able to create a safe learning community.”

It’s a common script, which the teacher appears to have memorized as well as the students. How well does she really believe that’s going to work out when she’s on the wrong side of the “feel unsafe” line?

8 thoughts on “Drama In Queens

  1. Steve UK

    I expect she knows she’s toast. She tought them for seven years and surely she saw numerous other spats, fights and witch hunts. Most of these will have been confined to the school grounds rather than broadcast to the entire planet, but nevertheless they would all have showcased the nastiness of her charges and their illiberal culture and upbringing.

    Her statement necessarily has to be a boilerplate platitude; but she will be only too aware of the terrifying synergy that the Internet brings to a crowd’s discontent, an amplifying of anger against a target that, except in the most egregious of circumstances, would never have been a factor at the start of her career more than two decades ago, would never have even made the local press. She’ll be painfully aware that she has unfairly become the sudden focus of her students’ displaced frustrations.

    She knows she’s toast, but as a vulnerable target at the wrong end of the power dynamic, she has to parrot the ‘safe’ words her advisors have given her, and she will now wait and see (perhaps with some desperate hope that it won’t turn out to be as bad for her as she expects) what will happen next.

  2. L. Phillips

    Simply the overspray from a larger, and largely eternal, battle.

    “Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this must be added the violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out. Leaders of parties in the cities had programmes which appeared admirable – on one side political equality for the masses, on the other the safe and sound government of the aristocracy – but in professing to serve the public interest they were seeking to win the prizes for themselves. In their struggles for ascendancy nothing was barred; terrible indeed were the actions to which they committed themselves, and in taking revenge they went farther still. ”

    Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

    1. Elvis the Pelvis

      I love the quote, it is spot on!

      And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that none of the rioting students has ever heard of Thucydides or the Peloponnesian War (maybe not even Greece or Sparta, given what many high school curricula are like these days).

  3. Chaswjd

    The problem is that we handle freedom of speech backwards. We teach that simple speech in a public forum can threaten and make someone unsafe. Such “threats” must be addressed. But when we have actual disorder and activity that would reasonably be perceived as a threat, we do nothing about it. The test will be to see if there is an actual investigation and discipline of the students involved. It will also be interesting to see if there is any move to discipline the teacher in question.

  4. Curtis

    Perhaps I am wrong but I don’t think these thugs are really antisemitic in any normal sense of the word. That takes knowledge and mental ability that they simply don’t have. They are self-aggrandizing, ignorant adolescents pretending to want to change the world by vandalizing and attacking for the cause of the day.

    They know they are supposed to hate “privileged” people and today Jews are considered privileged. Tomorrow someone else will be in their cross hairs. If an Irish Republican Army splinter group attacks next year and Britain responds forcefully, British colonialism will be denounced with the same thoughtless bile.

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