Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Academic Freedom or Anti-Semitism?

Daniel Klimek and Victor Lang of the left-wing DePaul Academic Freedom Committee have forwarded a press release concerning their academic freedom conference to be held on October 12 at the University of Chicago. The conference will be open to the public. Apparently, it is not enough that the academic left has squelched conservatives' speech; banned conservatives from the academy; and thrown conservative students out of college. In addition, Klimek and Lang demand that any and every failed left wing anti-Semite deserves tenure.

Klimek and Lang are leading the charge to insist that Norman Finkelstein be given tenure. Competent conservatives are routinely ejected from the academy but Klimek, Lang and their fellow neo-German romantics take no notice and do not see any "academic freedom" issue. But when Finkelstein, who is worse than incompetent as a scholar, is deservedly denied tenure Klimek, Lang and the usual list of neo-German romantics complain that there has been a grievous violation of academic freedom.

Previously, Brooklyn College alum and eminent legal scholar Alan Dershowitz has written about Norman Finkelstein in Frontpagemag. Dershowitz's article begins:

"The level of “academic” discourse on the Middle-East reached a new low—quite a feat considering some of the old lows—when the notorious Jewish anti-Semite and Holocaust-justice denier Norman Finkelstein wrote a screed suggesting that I be targeted “for assassination” because of my views on Israel. The obscene article was accompanied by an obscene cartoon drawn by “Latuff”, a frequent accomplice of Finkelstein. The cartoon portrayed me as masturbating in rapturous joy while viewing images of dead Lebanese civilians on a TV set labeled “Israel peep show,” with a Jewish Star of David prominently featured."

The DePaul Academic Freedom Committee's press release follows:

12 October 2007 - 2:00pm - 7:00 pm
Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago

October 12 2007 lecture featuring: Tariq Ali, Akeel Bilgrami, Noam Chomsky, Neve Gordon, Tony Judt and John Mearsheimer

CHICAGO, IL – In light of the controversial tenure denials of eminent Middle East scholar Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein and Dr. Mehrene Larudee earlier this year at DePaul University, the most prominent scholars from across the world will come together this Friday, October 12, 2007, at a conference at the University of Chicago to speak lecturing about the threats to academic freedom at universities.

Professors Finkelstein and Larudee were both denied tenure at DePaul last June for political purposes. After not being allowed to teach his terminal year at DePaul, Finkelstein and the university settled on an agreement in September, when Finkelstein resigned and DePaul acknowledged him to be “a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher.” Professor Larudee, who was a strong supporter of both Finkelstein and Palestinian rights, is currently appealing her case at DePaul. Both scholars will also appear as panelists at the October 12 conference.

The event is to be held at the Rockefeller Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave. Chicago, IL 60637. Scheduled speakers include:

- Dr. Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Heyman Center, Columbia University
- Dr. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Dr. Norman Finkelstein, (formerly) Department of Political Science, DePaul University
- Dr. John Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
- Dr. Neve Gordon, Professor, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University
- Dr. Tony Judt, University Professor and Director of the Remarque Institute, New York University
- Dr. Mehrene Larudee, International Studies Program, DePaul University
• Hosted by Tariq Ali, Editor of the New Left Review and Verso Books

The Event is Sponsored By:

Primary Sponsors

Diskord Magazine (University of Chicago, RSO), Verso Books (London), and Academic Freedom Committee (DePaul)

University of Chicago: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Center for International Studies, and International House Global Voices Program*
DePaul University: International Studies Program, Islamic World Studies Program, and Department of Philosophy*
Community Sponsors
Jewish Voice for Peace - Chicago, American Friends Service Committee – Chicago, and Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP)
*The University of Chicago and DePaul University are not sponsoring the event, only the listed departments and centers at these Universities.


John Q Public said...

Why this is a blog and not a published article: the author makes accusations (Anti-Semite) and assertions (conservative students and professors being thrown out of schools) without any proof, and expects the readers to believe him just because he says it. Sir, who are you to criticize someone's scholarship? Seems like you need a refresher course.

- John Q Public

vicmanb said...

Dr. Langbert,

If I may offer a suggestion:
When assigning labels to your blog posts, you should use a comma (,) as opposed to a semi-colon (;). The reason is that using a ; doesn't separate labels so what ends up happening is a long string of keywords that are connected. So what happens is that the labels are useless because they do not link to other articles in your blog because they are all one long unique line of keywords.

Try the , and tell me what you think. Perhaps it will work out better for you?



Mitchell Langbert said...

Victor, thanks for your comment. I promise to correct this error. John Q. Public: the fact that you use a lame pseudonym says it all about academia and about you.

Dr. Ashok Naraian said...

Dr. Langbert:

Some general comments:

1. You are free to disagree with the political philosophy of the panelists, but I was somewhat disturbed by your broad generalizations of the "left" as you put it.

2. You are not in any position to evaluate their academic credentials/capabilities as the specialization is outside your own.

3. Genuine libertarianism (I am one too) demands that all view points (however unpopular) be aired.

4. During my student years I personally have not experienced ill treatment by liberal professors, indeed they allowed me to freely air dissenting opinions.

5. Human beings are political animals and we have incompetence and excellence distributed more or less equally across the political spectrum.

6. Some of your other statements are indeed just assertions based on Prof. Dershowitz's (who also happens to be quite a lefty) accusations, not on any verifiable fact. Why would Dr. Finkelstein whose family (as you know) experienced the Holocaust first hand, be an anti Semite? I just see a person who is concerned about Israeli foreign policy and excessive use of force further undermining its moral authority.

7. Lastly, why did Prof. Dershowitz go out of his way to write unsolicited letters to DePaul administrators and actively try to prevent publication of Dr. Finkelstein's book? Is this not a pressure tactic using his name and influence? I think there is a serious ethical issue here because if he was secure about the factual accuracy of his arguments, he would have let the chips fall where they may.

Thanks for letting me write a long comment.

Dr. Ashok Naraian

Dr. Ashok Naraian said...

Post Script:

I do not understand your reply to John Q. Public. Firstly, what is the rigorous definition of a "lame" pseudonym and why is an "unlame" one better? His demand for proof (case statistics etc.) is not unreasonable. Secondly, if that lame pseudonym says it all about academia of which you are a part of, are you not indicting yourself?

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