State of the Union: Deporting a few errant visa holders will not be enough to stem extremism on our streets.
“Those who incite violence or endorse terrorist activity by supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and attacks against Jews are in violation of the terms of their visas and should no longer be welcomed as guests of America. It really is that simple,” writes Senator Marco Rubio. He is right. While visa holders are protected by free speech laws, this isn’t a question of the First Amendment, but rather of public order, and no great country should invite those determined to destroy the country from within.
But what about those who are already within? The threat that this country, and Europe, faces are from migrants who are often of the second and third generation.
The process goes something like this. The western nations allow the mass migration of those who follow their own customs and laws and values without assimilating. They are further taught in colleges and universities that their lives were shaped by forces of western colonialism and nothing is their fault, as they are the noble children of savages. When they reach a critical mass, they demand representation, vote as blocs, and elect people who only care about their interests. Look at the Somalis and Palestinians in the U.S., Pakistanis in the U.K., Turks in Germany, and so on. They riot, and, as seen in Europe, their protests and demands turn increasingly to a show of force. Eventually, they establish parallel societies, ironically similar to settler-colonialists.
Parts of Europe are lately waking up to that reality, as is much of the Western Jewish diaspora, which has been traditionally liberal and open to mass migration. Something has changed. Across Europe and America, those in the Jewish community are now rethinking their funding of universities and liberal political parties that they have supported for over half a century.
But simply deporting a few errant visa holders who break laws is not enough. Most will just learn to stay quiet, and then flood the bureaucracy and job market without any change of their views and values. It needs to go far beyond that.
Colleges and universities are well-known breeding grounds of extremism. The entire national security bureaucracy is targeted at five toothless (metaphorically, of course) white supremacists while ignoring the overwhelming threat of violence from the left. We simply do not have the apparatus to deal with the threat from inside. Euro-American “conservatives,” so traditionally opposed to government overreach and authority, are oblivious to it, wishing it would all just go away.
In an ironic way, the human rights norms and the managerial legal framework underwritten by the West post-1945 are the chains that currently bind it and are leading it to its own destruction from inside.
It is urgent for both Europe and the United States to overrule and rewrite those norms, and find the legal framework as well as enforcement capacity to circumvent international human rights laws, implementing mass deportation of those who fail or refuse to assimilate. It is crucial for the survival of the states in their current forms.
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Angry Penn Alumni: Where Have They Been All This Time?
Perhaps more will be emboldened to hold their alma maters accountable on these and other matters.
The son of a railroader from the Ozarks of Arkansas and a nurse’s aide from Harlan County Kentucky, I have no ties to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). I have ties to Penn, however, through marriage. My wife’s father and uncle graduated from the Penn architectural school in 1932 and 1922; her late brother graduated from Penn in 1963, as did his wife, and as did their three daughters who excelled in engineering and at the Wharton School.
Our older son, via a Navy ROTC scholarship—he went to the Marine Corps—graduated from Penn. So did his wife, both undergraduate and in its School of Veterinary Medicine, as had three generations of women in her family. In fact, our son’s wife represents four generations of Penn women who first graduated, in 1920, from the Ivy begun by Benjamin Franklin. It is a legacy of which they are justly proud; no doubt one or more of her daughters will matriculate there.
I have never donated to either of my alma maters; shame on me, but they got enough of my money, and I have no warm and fuzzy feelings about those days. Friends and relatives speak of their time in college as “the best years of their lives,” but for me they were a costly chore. I understand those who feel otherwise, like my late brother-in-law who, with his wife, annually attended Penn Alumni Weekend, joined the parade of classes at commencement, and contributed generously financially.
He did so even when Penn lurched leftward over the decades as progressives and Marxists took over the nation’s colleges and universities, despite my persistent nudges that he contribute instead to the nonprofit, public-interest law firm I led. On his passing, he left a magnanimous gift to Penn, which causes me to wonder what he would think of the place after the events of the last three weeks.
There is no doubt what some famous alumni think following Penn’s “‘silence’ to the attack by Hamas on Israel,” in the words of Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador, who had previously contributed tens of millions to his alma mater but has now ended all support for the institution. Earlier, Apollo Management CEO Marc Rowan, a graduate of Wharton, who, with his wife, donated $50 million to the school in 2018, sent Penn $1 and urged others to follow his lead and “Close their Checkbooks.” Then, David Magerman, who helped build Renaissance Technologies, bemoaned his alma mater’s “misguided moral compass” and said he would “refuse to donate another dollar to Penn.”
Good for them. Our older son was there on 9/11 when Muslim students celebrated the attack on our country and the deaths of nearly three thousand Americans. In fact, he walked the campus in his Navy Midshipman uniform the next day. Penn was silent on the matter, but my wife and I stewed. Nonetheless, I wonder: Where have Penn alumni been all these years?
Where were they when Penn awarded a nearly million dollar stipend to former Vice President Joe Biden as “Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor,” which required no teaching or even regular presence on campus? What Ivy would hire a known liar, plagiarist, and small-brain incompetent? Penn did, to its everlasting ridicule and, one would think, to the shame of alumni who proudly remember pedigreed professors of worldwide renown.
Where were they when the Penn president who oversaw the sinecure awarded Biden, Amy Gutmann, received an ambassadorship to Germany? Was it a payoff for his “full professor[ship]” of which Biden brags or for her role in admitting Biden’s granddaughter? No doubt non-meritorious admissions are a common occurrence at the Ivies, but the tawdry details exposed Penn to well-deserved mockery for its low standards, willingness to trade political favors, and deal making with the disreputable Hunter Biden.
Where were they in the wake of Biden’s classified document scandal at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C., when Congress questioned who might have had unauthorized access to those documents? Concerns were heightened when Congress learned Penn received “tens of millions of dollars from Chinese sources,” donations that more than tripled after creation of the Penn Biden Center in February 2017.
Most shameful of all, where were they when Penn declared war on its female athletes, in particular, those on its prestigious swimming team? As the world now knows, thanks to the advocacy of former University of Kentucky swimming champion Riley Gaines, Penn allowed a male to compete “as a woman” on the women’s team in NCAA competition. Penn women complained, not only about the paramount unfairness to them, having trained rigorously for years to be nationally competitive, of racing against a 6”1’ former member of the men’s Penn swimming team, but also about sharing a locker room with a biological male. Penn silenced the women, called them hateful or transphobic, and told them to seek psychological counseling.
Who treats women like this, in a manner not seen since the years my daughter-in-law’s great grandmother was at Penn, when women were thought to be hysterical and were denied the right to vote? A hundred years later, Penn has dealt similarly with its female athletes. To my knowledge, not a single alumnus objected.
I am pleased so many are speaking out today in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks on Israel and its innocent civilians and the wave of antisemitism sweeping our nation’s colleges and universities. Perhaps more will be emboldened to hold their alma maters accountable on these and other matters.
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The Nothingburger Synod
The anti-Francis media—the very phrase, “anti-Francis,” should be a source of shame for them—proved utterly derelict in this regard. Their failure isn’t just one of secular journalistic norms, but one of faith and filiality.
In these days of war, riot, and pandemic, no news is truly good news. And the principle applies equally to the life of the Catholic Church: It’s good news indeed that, contrary to the hopes of Catholic liberals and the fears of traditionalists, Pope Francis’s “Synod of Synodality” concluded its work over the weekend, and the result was…no doctrinal changes on hot-button questions.
Call it an apostolic nothingburger.
The disappointment of ecclesial liberals and their allies in the secular media was summed up by a New York Times article on the conclusion of the Roman gabfest. “Progressives who once hoped that the synod would create momentum for things like reaching out to LGBTQ+ Catholics said the meeting had failed to move the institution,” ran the paper’s sub-headline. Proponents of allowing married priests, blessings for same-sex unions, and the like watched with dismay as their ideas “basically vanished” from the final document, as the Gray Lady reported.
Instead, the gathering of prelates, specially selected priests, and lay advocates and experts ratified a series of vague and unobjectionable action items. Women must urgently play a bigger role in the Roman church’s affairs, the document said, but it didn’t specify what that would entail—more Karens from the Parish Council?—let alone broach deaconesses. Meanwhile, rainbow-talk was “almost entirely expunged,” per the Times.
To be sure, the document contained not a small portion of the sort of human-resources and therapeutic vernacular that has sadly invaded the Church’s language. (“Our personal narratives will enrich this synthesis with the tone of lived experience….”) But I wonder whether appropriating the outward forms of the HR-therapeutic complex is precisely the Church’s way of repelling its substance. In the event, liberal would-be reformers got nothing substantive out of the Synod on Synodality.
Which brings us to the conservatives and traditionalists. For weeks and months leading up to the synod, mainly Anglophone opponents of Pope Francis had published a steady stream of overwrought commentary on how the gathering would doom Catholicism, making normative for the universal Church the aberrant liberal practices of some bishops in Western Europe, especially Germany.
“Ask Mary to Save Us From the Synod on Synodality” was a typically unsober headline on one such piece that appeared in Crisis Magazine. Another writer in the same outlet warned that “synodality” will become “a cover for implementing fundamental changes to Catholicism. Using terms like ‘journey together’ and ‘gather in assembly’ put a happy face on the radical deconstruction of the Catholic faith.”
But it wasn’t to be. No “fundamental changes to Catholicism” took place. Nor was the faith radically deconstructed. That should alert hardcore traditionalists that perhaps they’ve got Pope Francis all wrong; that by constantly questioning his fidelity to the deposit of faith and striking an opposition-from-the-get-go posture whenever he tries to teach, they not only act without due docility toward the Vicar of Christ on Earth, but betray the older models of papal authority they seek to restore.
In his opening meditation on the synod, the pope himself all but spelled out that liberals would be disappointed, while the trads would end up looking foolish for fanning hysteria. Previous gatherings, he noted, had been the subject of similar anticipations. The Synod on the Family, conservatives feared, would open the doctrinal way to the divorced and remarried being admitted to communion. The Synod on the Amazon was supposed to bring the ordination of the so-called viri probati (married men of strong faith). But none of it came to pass. “Now,” Francis added,
There is speculation about this Synod: ‘What are they going to do?,’ ‘Maybe ordain women….’ I don’t know, those are things they are saying out there. And it is often said that the bishops are afraid to talk about what is going on. For this reason, I ask you, members of the press, to do your work well, fairly, so that the Church and people of good will—other people will say what they will—can understand that also in the Church, listening has priority. Communicate this: It is so important.
The anti-Francis media—the very phrase, “anti-Francis,” should be a source of shame for them—proved utterly derelict in this regard. This is not merely a failure to uphold secular journalistic norms, but one of faith and filiality.
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The Right Finds Its Spine
If conservatives can take a hard line on supporting Hamas, why can’t they do it on other issues?
By renouncing communism and becoming a man of the right, Whittaker Chambers famously observed that he was “leaving the winning side for the losing side.” The modern history of conservatism is a testament to that insight: Elections are won, bills are passed, activist campaigns are launched, and coffers are filled by the bottomless ocean of donor money that sloshes around the beltway. But below it all, History continues to march leftwards, and those who stand athwart it yelling “stop!” resign themselves to measuring their victories in terms of the temporary roadblocks they can place in its path.
But you wouldn’t know that from watching the events of the past three weeks. In the wake of the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, which claimed some 1,400 lives—including those of dozens of American citizens—the right mobilized with an unprecedented force of conviction.
Conservative donors, abruptly realizing that our universities were hotbeds of radical activism, began to apply financial pressure on administrators—or simply halted their donations altogether. Republicans who had never seen an amnesty bill or a guest-worker visa they didn’t like became hardliners overnight, calling for the deportation of foreign nationals who expressed support for Hamas and pushing to defund universities that allowed pro-Hamas protests. Conservative groups embarked on an aggressive name-and-shame campaign against students and professors, compiling a “College Terror List” as a “helpful guide for employers”—and even trotting out a “doxxing truck” on Harvard’s campus.
In short order, the backlash yielded results. Universities rushed to respond to donor pressure, hastily issuing, retracting, and amending statements on the conflict while promising to take further action. Chastened students apologized for and denounced their pro-Palestine statements—but not before a number were fired from prestigious jobs and fellowships. Heavyweight donors called for an employer blacklist of Hamas apologists, the termination of top-ranking college administrators, and further financial reprisals against complicit universities. MSNBC was alleged to have removed three Muslim broadcasters from the anchor’s chair in the wake of the Hamas attacks. (Although the network insists “the shifts are coincidental, and the three continue to appear on air to report and provide analysis,” per the original report in Semafor).
This was a stunning break with the conservatism of the past 30 years. Until now, the institutional right had surrendered to a sense of inevitability about the left’s long march through the institutions. The conservative political imagination seemed unable to conceive of political possibilities beyond the low horizons of the status quo.
That pessimism proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When a newly elected Donald Trump sought to finally deliver a comprehensive solution to the immigration crisis—the campaign promise that had made him president—he was sabotaged by a revolt from within his own party. When Black Lives Matter burned and looted its way through American cities in the summer of 2020—including many major red-state metropolises—Republicans at every level of government alternated between displays of impotent rage on Fox News and active support for the movement. When a long line of campus uprisings plunged our universities into chaos, the GOP-controlled governments and conservative donors who supplied their funding saw no reason to intervene, let alone close their checkbooks.
Take the example of the GOP megadonor Ken Griffin. Just six months ago, the hedge fund tycoon bestowed on Harvard $300 million—a donation that Harvard repaid by renaming its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences after him. While it may not have been his intent, Griffin’s cumulative half-billion in donations to Harvard have helped pave the runway transporting campus radicals into the halls of American power.
Last week, Griffin appeared to realize that this may not have been a wise investment. After employing his considerable clout to pressure Harvard into a display of solidarity with Israel, Griffin went on to pledge that his hedge fund would never hire the leaders of a Harvard student group that signed on to a letter blaming Israel for the Hamas attacks. (This pledge was echoed by numerous other powerful donors). “How do you end up in such a twisted place?” Griffin wondered. It’s an excellent question; it’s a question that Griffin could have asked a long time ago.
Marc Rowan, a private equity billionaire and big-dollar donor to Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, was relatively sanguine about the campus wars back in 2021. As the chair of the board at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Rowan chuckled: “I’m always the one [saying], ‘What about political diversity?’ And then they move on to lunch.” To his credit, Rowan did push for some piecemeal reforms, helping to create a “problem solvers” fellowship intended to promote political dialogue. But he was careful to couch his goals in anti-partisan language: “Let’s have a discussion of abortion from both sides,” he told an Aspen Institute panel. “Let’s have a discussion of gun rights from both sides.”
Rowan, who has donated some $50 million to Wharton, has now lost his interest in cross-ideological debate. In the wake of anti-Israel demonstrations on campus, the GOP donor called for the university’s president and board of trustees to be fired. He went on to pen an op-ed titled “University Donors, Close Your Checkbooks”—a directive that other powerful Republican donors have already taken to heart: Utah’s former Gov. John Huntsman, whose family has given tens of millions of dollars to the University of Pennsylvania over the years, pledged to “close” his family foundation’s “checkbook on all future giving to Penn,” observing that the university “has become deeply adrift in ways that make it almost unrecognizable.” But Penn had become “unrecognizable” long before this most recent episode: The Ivy League university has been ranked the second-worst college in America for free speech for the last two years in a row, down from ranking among the top seven free-speech campuses in 2012.
Nor is this rapid shift confined to the donor class. Nikki Haley, for example, declared that there should be “no more federal money for colleges and universities that allow antisemitism to flourish on campus.” Two days later, the Republican Larry Hogan, Maryland’s former governor, withdrew his offer to participate in Harvard’s fellowship this fall, citing “the dangerous anti-Semitism that has taken root on their campus.” It’s good to see Republicans suddenly discover that they don’t need to continuously fund institutions that hate them. It’s bewildering that it took them this long to realize as much.
The same is true on the issue of immigration. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, made a name for himself as an immigration dove first as a champion of the doomed “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill and later as a critic of Trump’s restrictionist efforts. “The reality is, you can’t do it,” Rubio said of Trump’s proposal to deport all illegal immigrants in 2016, adding that Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” was “not a real proposal”—“I think it’s bad policy for the country to say you’re going to have a religious exclusion.” Last week, however, Rubio struck a markedly different tone, introducing a resolution to revoke visas and deport “any foreign national who has endorsed or espoused the terrorist activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah” and other groups.
South Carolina’s Senator Tim Scott, a Republican who had joined Rubio in criticizing Trump’s ban on migration from seven Muslim-majority countries, is now calling for similar measures to deport Hamas sympathizers. He has struck an uncharacteristically hardline tone on accepting refugees from Gaza. Rep. Mike Carey, an Ohio Republican, signed a letter urging the Biden administration to deport foreign student visa holders “who have endorsed terrorist activity,” despite having penned another letter in January asking the administration not to deport Mauritanian nationals. Texas’s Republican Rep. Tony Gonzalez, who was moved to hysterics by a border security bill backed by dozens of Republicans earlier this year—describing the bill as “not American” and “un-Christian”—publicly called for war, presumably via U.S. military deployment to the Middle East, before the dust had even settled on the Hamas attacks. In May, Gonzales staunchly opposed the Biden administration’s efforts to send troops to our border.
Hamas’s savage attacks are outrageous, as are the efforts to excuse or justify them. But so is the mass murder of unborn children in the womb. So is our open border. So is the radicalization of our universities, the carnage and violence on our city streets, and the systematic destruction of our history and heritage. That our conservative leaders have suddenly found their appetite for outrage is laudable, but it’s impossible to avoid wondering where it has been for the past decade.
Republican voters could have been forgiven for wondering why they should turn out to vote at all, if elected representatives like Gonzales were going to situate themselves to President Biden’s left on issues like immigration. They could have been forgiven for asking the same question of Rubio, Scott, and the numerous others who have spent their time in office soberly explaining why we simply can’t deport illegal immigrants or prohibit migration from hostile foreign nations. They could have been forgiven for inquiring where the donor class was when the campus radicalism it suddenly abhors was ransacking the country in the summer of 2020, or when the education system was teaching our youth to hate the country they are to inherit, or when the same factions that are now celebrating the slaughter of Israelis were fantasizing about doing the same to their fellow Americans.
Perhaps this will be a turning point for the GOP and the conservative movement; that remains to be seen. One thing is clear: There can no longer be an excuse for the right’s complicity in the degradation of our country. What the past two weeks makes evident is that our political crises do, in fact, have solutions. That our leaders failed to employ those solutions was not due to a lack of ability; it was due to a lack of will. We should all be grateful that they have abruptly found that will—and we should insist that they don’t lose it in the days and years to come.
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When College Presidents Were America’s Conscience
The argument being made by those presidents who refused to speak out against the October 7 attack is that it’s acceptable to promote ideas which contradict the nation’s underlying moral sensibilities.
As anger grows over the unwillingness of so many college and university presidents to unambiguously condemn Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, it is helpful to understand the unique role that these academic leaders once played in American history. Their legacy continues to generate an expectation of intellectual and moral leadership which has always been more prevalent in the U.S. than in other countries.
It is largely forgotten now, but for nearly three centuries, from the founding of Harvard College in 1636 right up until the early twentieth century, almost every American college or university was sponsored by a major religious denomination. Their presidents were either prominent clergy or, in the case of the women’s schools that emerged in the 1800s, lay church leaders.
Although these presidents represented different theologies, they all saw their missions as providing undergraduates with the moral insight and intellectual courage needed to cope with even the most difficult personal and social problems. Among the latter would be a War for Independence pitting colonists against their mother country, a bloody Civil War, the Industrial Revolution’s disruptive migration from farmlands to cities, and a Great War so traumatic that the survivors came to be known as “the Lost Generation.”
Up until the American Revolution, when colleges were few and sparsely attended, most presidents conveyed their wisdom in the context of a required seminar, normally taken in their students’ junior or senior year. The formal name for this course was Moral Philosophy, a phrase that had long been used by European scholars to describe the study of Christian ethics.
But in America, it referred to something far more ambitious: a way of sustaining free thought and traditional morality in everyday life, regardless of whatever obstacles, temptations, heresies, or even physical dangers one might encounter. Students themselves referred to this class as simply “the president’s seminar.”
Over time, as campus populations grew to the point where it was impractical for one person to conduct the same course for every undergraduate, college presidents began to reorganize their ideas into a series of Sunday sermons, which all students were required to attend right up to the middle of the twentieth century. These sermons, in turn, became chapters of popular self-help books.
Many of the best authors—including Mark Hopkins of Williams College (1836–1872), Princeton’s James McCosh (1868–1888), and Yale’s Noah Porter (1871–1886)—became nationally admired figures, in great demand as lecturers and guest speakers. DePauw College’s first president, Matthew Simpson, was a trusted advisor to Lincoln; two 1885 debates on morality between McCosh and Harvard’s president, Charles Eliot, were considered important enough to be covered on the front pages of newspapers across the country. Acres of Diamonds, based on a sermon by Temple University’s President Russell Conwell (1887–1925), is still in print and remains one of the most influential books ever published.
Indeed, it is hard to overstate the presidents’ influence. Their work inspired hundreds of social service organizations, including the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the American branch of the Salvation Army, and the precursors of modern substance abuse programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. And, in large part because of the presidents, mental asylums ended their historically callous warehousing of inmates and adopted a more humane approach, which came to be known as “moral treatment.”
It was not until the early twentieth century when colleges and universities finally stopped choosing their presidents from the ranks of prominent clergy, ironically because of just how successful the religious leadership had been. So many departments of agriculture, medicine, architecture, history, chemistry, foreign languages, and law had become world-class competitors by then that prospective students no longer chose a school on the basis of its denominational affiliation alone. And with their financial responsibility for rapidly growing educational institutions, school trustees increasingly felt compelled to appoint presidents who promised to be capable fundraisers, regardless of their prior academic careers.
Yet the public’s belief that college and university presidents should be guardians of America’s free speech and moral traditions was so strong that it has persisted to this day. So much so that presidents continue to be seen as the ones most responsible for taking corrective action whenever some political, economic, or social ideology is being too coercively promoted on campus.
William F. Buckley’s first book, God and Man at Yale, became a sensation in the 1950’s precisely because his criticism of the Yale administration’s refusal to crack down on the aggressive teaching of collectivism and secularism tapped into a wider concern that other presidents were similarly failing in their duty. More recently, groups like the Bipartisan Policy Center sponsor projects to help college graduates support the presidents of their respective alma maters in standing against cancel culture.
The ostensible argument being made by those presidents who today refuse to unambiguously condemn the October 7 massacre is that it’s finally time for Americans to accept a transition that began more than a century ago. Those who lead our institutions of higher education are no longer esteemed clergy with sufficient insight to determine when some campus movement has become too intolerant, but full-time administrators with the less elevated job of allowing every ideology free reign: even if large numbers of students and faculty are justifying the intentional torture and murder of innocent civilians.
Of course, this position would seem a lot more sincere had so many university presidents not rushed to forcefully condemn the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the 2020 death of George Floyd, and the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. It would also be more credible if administration policies against hate speech were not applied so unevenly—almost always against conservative campus groups and hardly ever against far left ones.
As the State Department’s former Director of Policy Planning Peter Berkowitz recently observed, college and university presidents have no problem drawing on the centuries-old expectation that they are uniquely qualified to pass judgment on current events when it benefits progressive causes. They may claim that “it is not university administrators’ job to opine on behalf of their institutions on the great issues of the day,” but this is “after decades of taking sides, usually supporting decidedly progressive causes and priorities.”
The real argument being made by those presidents who refused to speak out against the October 7 attack is that it’s perfectly acceptable for their faculty and students to aggressively promote ideas which contradict both the nation’s founding principles and its underlying moral sensibilities. And for their own administrations to continue providing these voices with as much cover as they can.
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