The worst behaved child I’ve ever encountered sat two tables away from me at Chili’s in rural Oklahoma.

After the young boy drained his mother’s cellphone battery playing a game, he spent no less than half-an-hour screaming for his mom to turn the dead phone back on. When screaming ceased to revive the device, he knocked over a glass of water and began banging knives and forks on the table — pointy-side down.

Fast forward ten years. College students at campuses across the country are protesting Israel’s military involvement in Gaza, less than seven months after Gaza-based terror group Hamas killed, raped and kidnapped thousands of Israeli civilians. Hundreds of students have formed unsanctioned encampments on school property, vowing to remain there until their respective institutions end all financial and social support of Israel.

I suspect many of these students consider themselves successors to activists like Martin Luther King Jr., but their behavior reminds me of nothing so much as that ill-behaved boy in Chili’s — including his:

  • Disrespect for authority and property.
  • Inability to relate actions and consequences.
  • Preference to resolve discomfort by throwing destructive tantrums.

Take, for example, protesters at Emory University.

This young person was arrested at the private university last week after campus leadership asked Atlanta Police Department (APD) officers to clear an unsanctioned encampment.

Students like this one expressed shock and anger at being arrested and forced to disperse. One student group called it a “brutal repression of peaceful protests.”

Of his harrowing experience being arrested, another student told Atlanta News First, “We were shoved in a room with the other protesters. We were given the prison food.”

The horror.

But Emory is far from the oppressive place protestors perceive it to be. Like any university, the school requires students follow certain rules on campus.

The university’s president, Gregory Fenves, has repeatedly affirmed students’ right to peacefully protest. That’s why protesters were allowed to congregate immediately following APD’s dispersal of the camp. It’s also why Emory’s Jewish studies classes reportedly went virtual as many as two weeks ago, when campus protests began.

Students are not allowed, however, to form encampments, which Fenves says “disrupt the core purpose of the university and its educational and research missions.”

The students who set up twenty tents in front of Emory’s graduation stage last Thursday decided not to follow this rule. Nor did they care to follow Emory Police Department’s instruction to leave the area. As a result, some got arrested.

Like the boy in Chili’s, protestors’ actions demonstrate a shocking disregard for authority. Their reaction to the camp being cleared demonstrates an equally shocking inability to relate actions and consequences.

Like the boy in Chili’s, Emory’s protesters have also thrown some pretty destructive tantrums.

Less than 24 hours after APD cleared students’ camp-out, Fenves says protesters, “pinned police officers against the [Candler School of Theology’s] glass doors, threw objects at them, and attempted to gain access to the building.”

Later that weekend, protestors spray-painted hateful slogans on campus buildings. Jewish professor Jacob Wright posted pictures of the graffiti on X (formerly Twitter).

All over Emory. Even in the bathroom that I use at Candler School of Theology, where I have long been the only non-Christian and only Jewish faculty member.

Just a day earlier, Wright claimed he had been “targeted” for being Jewish. “It’s not good at Emory,” he wrote.

For all their concern for Gaza, protestors seem unable or unwilling to contemplate how their actions have affected people like Wright. Some Emory School of Law students have reportedly requested to complete their courses pass/fail because they are “afraid to return to campus [for finals].”

One Jewish student, who chose to remain anonymous, told a local news outlet, “We [Jewish students] are afraid to come to campus. Yesterday at the rally [protesters] called for an escalation. They’re already vandalizing. They’re already harassing and intimidating students. What does escalation mean?”

The student concluded:

You need to make your Jewish students during finals feel like they can step on campus and go to class. You need to not have Jewish students walking across campus being called genocide lovers, baby killers, pigs, and equating us to the KKK. Enough is enough.

The Daily Citizen emphatically agrees with this unnamed student. No person should be treated this way — let alone a college student on the campus they’ve paid to live on.

We also propose a serious question — where are these protestors’ parents?

When I watched that four-year-old destroy a Chili’s dining table, I vividly remember pondering the same question. Though physically present, the mother seemed intent on ignoring the child, rather than correcting his behavior or taking him out of the building.

I can’t help but wonder if parents took similar, laissez-faire approaches with the children who are now causing widespread destruction and upheaval on leading campuses across the country.

We might never know the answer to that question, but one thing is clear — young people must act their age in college. The Daily Citizen believes parents are responsible for teaching their children to be productive members of society — to follow rules and form healthy relationships with other people.

Such training requires love, patience, diligence and sacrifice. So, stay strong, parents! There are no shortcuts or days off when it comes to good parenting.

Your children will thank you when they never have to taste prison food.

Additional Articles and Resources

College Faculty Voice Support for Antisemitic Protests

A Stunning Contrast of Two University Lawns

Jewish Students urged to Flee Columbia Following Antisemitic Protest

Campus Protests Expose Antisemitic Rot in Academia

Iran’s Failed Attack on Israel — What happened and Why It’s Important

Antisemitism — What It Is and Its Connection to the Israel-Hamas War

Women’s Rights Group Silent on Hamas Sexual Violence, Analysis Shows

Focus on the Family Parenting Resources