Monthly Archives: February 2005

Rashid Khalidi–What’s the Deal?

A minor storm is brewing around the dropping of Professor Rashid Khalidi from a New York Board of Education program that taught city K-12 teachers about the Middle East…and like any storm, it is obscuring the public vision regarding the problems besetting Columbia.
Yes, Columbia is almost unbearably one-sided when it comes to teaching the Middle East, simply from the perspective that every field and every subject should be accessed critically, and one-sidedness does not permit for criticism. And yes, the University should seek to expand the voices on its faculty. But Khalidi, if anything, seems to serve as an example of a professor who separates between his politics and his pedagogy–and therefore, under the current situation, the model of a professor who is also a politically involved citizen.
Just to be clear, I think he is a bigot due to remarks he made about Jews, but I have not yet heard one thing to indicate that he uses the classroom as a bully pulpit, and I respect that.
So, should the BOE have dropped Khalidi? Truth is, I think they have the full right to decide whether to hire or fire. But I also think that in making those decisions they should do so in respect to the behavior of the person in the role, and not their political beliefs.
[crossposted]

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Sometimes It’s Sad When You’re Right

Turns out that my predictions about how the ACLU event would go were spot on. According to the panelists last night, we students are engaging in something worse than McCarthyism. Why? Well that was not ever really made clear. Something about trying to influence the world of ideas through using the press. I don’t know why someone would want to do that–argue ideas, that is. I mean, who would be so stupid to think that one could argue with a PhD, or that a PhD has to defend their position?
Right.
What bothered me the most, though, is that they point out the “Jewish Money” going into this “ideological war,” without any reference to the insane amounts of money poured in by Saudi Arabia ($250,000 for a lecture series at Columbia alone) and the United Arab Emirates ($200,000 for a chair Rashid Khalidi sits on named after Edward Said). It is as if oil-money is above criticism because it comes from outside America, but Jewish money focused on inspiring a view that does not see Israelis as Nazis is bad.
Personally, I think that both are protected by Free Speech. And, as long as the sources of funding are declared, and that the money is not from a tyrannical regime, neither is McCarthyite.
But not to the folks last night, it seems. Too bad. [crossposted]

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McCarthyism Now

Columbia’s ACLU is hosting a teach-in tonight called, “McCarthyism & the University: A Historical Discussion on Free Speech and the Academy From the Cold War to Present” in Jerome Greene Hall, Room 103 (116th & Amsterdam) at 7:30.
Now, far be it from me to see the future, but I would not be surprised if it is very much different from the forum last month called “Censoring the Academy,” which basically enlisted the audience to save Professor Massad. Not because he didn’t bully students–because he is a brave voice against the Zionist establishment.
Yeah. Why care about bullying when there are more important things, like Politics.
In any case, to greet this new panel, I published an op-ed in the Spectator. Hope the point is clear.

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110 Blocks

Sam Freedman, the Columbia professor of Jew vs. Jew fame among other things, published his column this week in the NYTimes about the need for an Israel Studies Chair at Columbia to set things straight. I don’t know. I’ve argued in the past that an Israel studies chair, in the current environment described well by Alan Dershowitz, would only aggravate the situation.
What’s for sure is that Zweig’s attitude is what’s missing. He says,

“My goal is to make the students think, not tell them what to think,” Professor Zweig said. “I’m glad when students walk away from my class feeling that I’ve had respect for their views. That’s an obligation of professors. We have a mantle of authority and it is scandalous for us to exploit this position in order to propagate our own views.”

Damn straight. [crossposted]

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Paulin’s back in Town

Tom Paulin, the visiting professor who thinks Jews in the West Bank should be shot on sight, is back in town and coming to Columbia.
I took Paulin on while he was here in a column for the Spec, and, re-reading it, I want to point out that my position is the same:

This is not a matter of Paulin’s First Amendment rights, as some would allege. I would die to protect Paulin’s right to express himself however he wants, but that does not mean that I or the University must actively support his incitement by paying his wages and granting him a visiting professorship. It certainly does not mean that the University should give him a soapbox from which he can spread hatred. The idea that the principles of the First Amendment and academic freedom protect a professor’s right to say anything, while retaining his or her position, is dangerously amiss. The University as an institution does not exist for professors but for students–it is an institution of education, not a think tank.

That was written on December 3, 2002. That it has taken this long for the issue to be taken seriously is something we should be ashamed of.

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Out of Control

Things have been a bit out of control lately on the Columbia issue, with many different threads working at once–so I am sorry I wasn’t able to blog about the enormous pride the Iraqi elections arose in me for the human sprit, the joy I have reading about our being closer than ever for peace in the Middle East, and the complete outrage that while Israelis and Palestinians are trying to work out their problems, bigoted “experts” at Columbia are now saying that a two-state solution is a “utopian solution.”
So yeah, lots going on. At least our group blog is working along, Columbians for Academic Freedom, so go over there for updates until I can tame this rhino. And thanks for coming by.

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