United States foreign policy continues its historic moral and ethical freefall – particularly with the global firestorm created by Hamas’ attack on Israel. A freefall matched by an administration hovering apoplectically over dismal domestic approval numbers and a foreign policy mysteriously influenced by social and political minorities. It is clear this administration has no interest in leading. Instead, they seem content to hold their cards close and pray no one calls their bluff – frozen in time, shivering, cowering – desperate for the next election cycle. Meanwhile, the hyperpolarizing and social media-infused rhetoric found at anti-Israeli and pro-Palestine rallies on US college campuses and elsewhere have exposed the repugnant side of those same political and social communities.

While the administration’s initial response to Hamas had a veneer of vigor and determination, the swagger quickly faded, and only faint political platitudes remained. There has also been a distinct lack of condemnation by the administration of the actions and rhetoric used by these domestic hate groups – almost tacit approval, while the nation continues to falter and more fissures appear. It is clear the administration cares more about its politically aligned domestic minorities than standing strong on American values and on the right side of history. With the acceptance of these political and social minorities comes a refusal to define the limits of our support for Israel – are we on the verge of abandoning our most trusted ally in the region? Are we about to have another Afghanistan moment?

The administration’s lack of moral courage has left our adversaries militarily and diplomatically emboldened and our allies openly apathetic and privately disrespectful. While at home, we have allowed the voices of the few to dominate and allowed a portable fraction of Americans to represent us and to paint America as both polarized and co-opted – how did this happen, and what can we do about it?

This nation was founded on a series of ideals and beliefs – beliefs of inalienable rights that became the voices of a revolution and the words of a Declaration of Independence. Written by a then 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson, those words were as unique as they were improbable. Improbable, as it was written under an authoritarian and growingly suppressive British government. Unique because it was the first of its kind – a rejection of tyranny, a proclamation of self-determination, and a demand for personal freedoms.

The Declaration of Independence has served as a model for countless global independence movements since 1775 and has remained a cornerstone of our foreign policy. It was a message of hope to the world. Today, if read aloud, it would be an edict to reject terror, reject oligarchs, reject dictators, reject religious zealots, and any totalitarian form of government that cannot guarantee those same basic freedoms. That purity of thought and intellectual integrity, as a mantra of American values, has seemingly been infected by a shortsighted, ill-informed, overly influenced, and often contradictory US foreign policy.

US foreign policy has dangerously and ironically caved to American voices outshouting American ideals while simultaneously espousing violence and hate. While we respect and revere the First Amendment, we should be collectively disgusted by the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli messages. Ironically, many of these devoted advocates of Palestinian freedom can hardly articulate their plight. With a TikTok level of insight and seemingly endless theatrical rage, this new horde of disenfranchised Ivy Leaguers, along with East and West Coast justice warriors, are using social media to promote a perversion of American values. How else can we put into context how the smallest political and social communities have impacted this administration’s foreign and domestic policy?

Perhaps part of the answer is hidden in our changing preferences regarding how, why, from whom, and in what format our information is received. When we combine a fast-food appetite with Michelin 5 Star expectations, we inevitably will be disappointed – very disappointed. Another factor is America’s continuing loss of confidence in all media. A February 2023 Gallup Poll detailed that fifty percent of Americans believe that national news purposefully attempts to influence our opinions. While this is concerning, it is an open secret that mainstream media – national news outlets that include TV, newspaper, and online services – has long abandoned any semblance of political neutrality. Even with biased reporting and leanings to the left or to the right of neutral, Americans should not be so easily duped or co-opted. We should be equipped to challenge even the news we want to see or hear.

Maybe challenging the media or the TikTok generation’s self-proclaimed deep, complete, and otherwise unrivaled understanding of nearly every topic is futile and, therefore, fruitless? I believe otherwise, and I believe we are up to the challenge; just because someone outshouts you doesn’t make them right. The US-based pro-Palestinian and often anti-Israel community are shouters. But where is their understanding of the current war involving Israel and their Hamas led Palestinian neighbors? This war bares many of the same attributes of similar armed conflicts postdating 1948 between the two – Hamas or another similar Palestinian terror organization, supported by Iran and others, indiscriminately targeting civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, with little regard for humanity – but our TikTok Scholars must have already known this.