From a Twitter to a Scream

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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57 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I have recently been involved with a case of a young man, age 13, who got sent home from summer camp for, among other things, making threats of violence against a cabinmate. I and his other sensei had been trying to make the point that this needs to be taken seriously, that legally speaking, if he were an adult this could constitute assault, and that it is grounds in most workplaces for firing.

    His mother did not understand this, she said to me, “It’s just an empty threat, people talk like this all the time”.

    I replied by asking her, “Ok, you know the thing on the internet where people make death threats in comments to people who say things they don’t like?”

    Her jaw hardened and she said, “Yes?”

    “Would you say those are empty threats?”, I continued.

    “Well, it’s hard to say,” she said. “You’d have to know the person.”

    “Do you want your son to be someone making those kind of threats?” I said.

    “No!” was her reply, with a rather shocked look of understanding in her eyes.

    So to summarize my long story, I think eliminationist language should always be taken seriously, and he uses it. I’m not pleased.

    Also, calling someone an “awful human being” does not constitute critical thinking. It’s just contempt and tribalism. I’m all for critical thinking; I don’t really see any in the quoted tweets.

    That said, nothing Salaita has done would rise, in my mind, to the level of “moral turpitude” required to fire a tenured professor. I’m not sure academic freedom was ever intended to protect this sort of thing, but if it protects people who go on about “The War of Northern Aggression”, then whatever, I guess.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’ve been keeping my distance from the Salaita affair but I think pro-Salaita faction would have had a stronger argument if they made it more about an abuse of the proper procedures for granting tenure rather than trying to turn Salaita into some kind of brave, academic truth sayer. A lot of Salaita’s tweets were way out there and a Jewish studies professor that made similar statements about the Palestinians, Arabs, or Muslims would have received less warm support if denied tenure.

    By making Salaita some sort of academic truth-sayer, his entire record become open for inspection:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/183813/steven-salaita-academic-work

    Roughly, what I am saying is that a stronger defense would to acknowledge that Salaita said some potentially anti-Semitic and hateful things rather than try to hide it.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      Maybe we’ve been looking at different sources, but all the academics I’ve heard on the issue do think it has to do with academic freedom in general and not the validity of Salaita’s specific tweets. They are rather of the opinion that no matter what the tweets say he should not have had his offer withdrawn. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen one academic actually respond to or expound upon his tweets, in part because they are so fatuous.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I am really curious if the entire controversy would have been similar with a reverse Salaita that is somebody denied tenure for being gun-hoe pro-Israel during the Hamas War and saying some very nasty stuff about the Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims on twitter. My suspicion is that a professor who is denied tenure because of pro-Israeli/Anti-Palestinian comments would not create such an explosion.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      We have somewhat of a parallel to the recent rescinding of an honorary degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali by Brandeis. The dis-invitation was motivated by her comments that Islam should be made illegal and that Muslims cannot be moderate. Of course, Hirsi Ali’s statements were more directly related to her role as honorary speaker, but then she has also done a lot of objective good for women’s rights through her various organizations. I’m not sure what the reaction was on the left, but I don’t remember any major defense. I do recall a conservative outcry that Brandeis has acted cowardly and is effectively stifling the free speech of a human rights hero.

      For what it’s worth, I think bigotry and calls to violence go beyond the bounds of academic freedom. Academic freedom exists as one pillar of academia, together with the open exchange of ideas and respect for the individual. Bigotry, including stated support of antisemitism, is incompatible with respect for the individual because it presupposes a judgement that is not based on stated ideas. Importantly, this does not mean respect for ideas; academics should be entirely free to disagree with one another, and even do so without civility. The whole civility issue is a giant red herring. Salaita should be fired not because he used the word “fucking” or called someone an “awful person”, but because he promoted bigotry against an entire ethnicity and violence against a general population.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I think bigotry and calls to violence go beyond the bounds of academic freedom.

        Yeah, I agree. And good point! Maybe for some folks a guarantee of academic freedom simply reduces to a contractual freedom of speech protection. If that’s the case, it’s news to me.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The broad spectrum of the Left was generally pleased that Brandeis de-invited Ali to be a speaker because of her statements concerning Muslims in general.*

        I think the only reason why the Salaita affair became so prominent is because many academics feel under threat because of the rapid disappearance of tenure as a feature of an academic career and because the Palestinian cause is very popular among them. Academia is one of the few places in the United States where you can safely be really Far Left and denying Salaita tenure because of an orthodox view among them seemed like a big blow.

        *I really don’t understand why Ali’s opinions get people so excited. Its certainly no different than a White Feminist from an Evangelical Christian background having a harsh and visceral reaction against her up-bringing.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @leeesq Maybe because I don’t see said feminists being treated as the definitive word on Evangelicalism and if you oppose said feminists finding, you aren’t told you don’t care about women being raped in Saudi Arabia.Report

    • Avatar dhex says:

      to a lesser degree, but yes. the rescinding of the offer is what’s kindled the most flames here. the only difference is that tablet would be defending him as a courageous troofer and others would be vilifying him as a bigoted jerk.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      Lee Esq. Maybe…. but it’s hard to say. I tried to stay away from hypothetical situations in the post because we can say, all sorts of, “If he had said _____, this would have been the result” but we don’t know for sure.

      I will say that a very good friend of mine who is a professor in NY state had a lesser dust-up a few years ago when she showed a BBC documentary that dealt with the Israel/Palestine issue and a student took offense and got a sort of Israelier-than-thou group across the country on the case and there were calls to get her tenure revoked and a small letter writing campaign, etc. It ended pretty cleanly though because the documentary was very even-handed and when the local paper asked her if she is really anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, she just said, “This makes no sense to me. I’m a Jew and an Israeli. I believe in Israel’s right to exist. It’s where I grew up.” So, I guess they figured they had the wrong person.

      In the Salaita affair, what seems most troubling about the university response is the notion that academic speech requires treating viewpoints with respect. There are countless viewpoints that likely won’t be treated with respect by intelligent people and quite likely can’t if they’re being intellectually honest. I’m not comfortable with “respect” being made a standard.Report

      • As far as hypotheticals go, I’ve heard some claim that had Mr. Salaita’s eliminationist rhetoric–and I believe some of it is eliminationist, especially his comment about West Bank settlers–been directed at Palestinians or another group, then he wouldn’t have been “unhired.”

        As Rufus points out, we don’t know unless/until it happens.

        And for the record, I really, really dislike Mr. Salaita’s rhetoric, and I’m generally critical of the current Israeli government’s policy in the West Bank.Report

  4. To be honest, I’m not sure how the question of tenure really comes into play in this case, at least not from an analytical perspective, though it’s possible that it only got as public as it did because of the push by the tenured community.

    I’m also not sure how it’s really an academic freedom issue – he’s a Native American Studies professor and he’s not commenting on anything at all related to his academic work. Maybe the emphasis on the academic freedom portion of the equation is what brings the tenure question into play?

    Regardless, it is a very clear 1st Amendment issue – this is a public university and a government employer. He had the job offer rescinded for speech having nothing at all to do with the job for which he was being hired. It was protected speech, it contained no actual threats.

    It was debatably anti-Semitic, yes, but that doesn’t make it unprotected speech, and rescinding the job offer was clearly and indisputably an adverse employment action.

    He is going to win his lawsuit, and he should. Any adjunct who had a public job offer rescinded so quickly after offensive speech came to light would likewise win their lawsuit, and they likewise should.

    If free speech stands for anything, it stands for the proposition that the government does not get to decide what is and is not acceptable speech. Even if you’re a government employee, they don’t get to make that decision unless that speech directly relates to your job. I’m really struggling to see how that exception applies here.Report

    • Avatar Dand says:

      Here’s a case where courts upheld a University’s rights to fire an employee for bigoted speech. If the Supreme Court ruled this way in case involving homophobic speech and can’t believe they’d rule differently in a case involving anti-semitic speech.Report

      • “unless the speech directly relates to your job.”

        I made clear that this exception exists and is important, and that is precisely the exception that the court in this case relied on, making clear in the process that it was narrowly limiting its decision to that ground. An HR officer charged with enforcing diversity policies can’t say that leading a campaign to undermine those same policies is unrelated to her job.

        As for your first cite, we will see how that plays out in the courts, although it looks like the school district is going to try to say that it wasn’t the content of the speech that caused the firing, but rather that it violated a content-neutral rule. I have doubts about that, but it’s worth noting that they are at least trying to make that claim.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      1. Again I will ask, what is Twitter good for? I seem to only hear about stuff on twitter when it is about people saying questionably dumb things on twitter. This involves left wing and right wing tweeters. There was a woman last year who lost her job because of “jokes” about Africa and becoming HIV positive or something like that. There were the Weiner tweets, etc.

      2. Ton answer @mark-thompson above, I think this became a tenure and academic freedom issue because the pro-Salaita side decided to brand it as much. I’ve heard numerous definitions of academic freedom: I’ve heard it apply only to speaking on your area of expertise in scholarly settings or just speaking in an academic/scholarly setting in general. Then there is the definition that seems to think academic freedom should equal whatever an academic speaks about and whereever.

      3. I think that people are making this a huge fight because of the “adjunctization” that you mention above, Rufus. This might be seen as a last fight and maybe the academics feel like if they can change this decision, they are on safer ground.

      4. Twitter + Israel and Palestine=Let’s bring out the worst examples of inflamed rhetoric and hyperbole in everyone.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        “What’s Twitter good for? I only hear about it in internet outrage circles when someone says something stupid about it.”

        I ask again, what’s willful myopia good for?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        That quote should have been followed by a FTFY.

        Twitter is a huge world that intersects other worlds in multiple ways. If you’re only hearing certain things, it probably says more about the limits of your world than the limits of one that’s much larger than yours.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Twitter is one of the great engines of equality: whether you’re a Nobel Prize-winner or a semi-literate 3rd-grade dropout, your tweets will look equally dumb.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        You can’t spell Twitter without spelling Twit.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @chris

        I have to say I am with North and Mike here.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Saul, good to know.Report

      • @chris

        My inclination is to be with Saul (and North and Mike), but you raise a good point. I’m never on Twitter and tend to notice things only when people cite it. Although I’m still skeptical that it’s what it’s made out to be by its proponents, I shouldn’t know unless I try it. And I probably won’t try it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Follow the events in Ferguson, and the coverage of it, from about three hours after Mike Brown was murdered through the two weeks after, and you will find that Twitter was the driving force in making it a national and international issue.

        Twitter isn’t about what’s said in 140 characters, though some people are hilarious. It’s about pointing to the world, often in real time, from many perspectives.

        You benefit from Twitter, even if you don’t know it.Report

    • Any adjunct who had a public job offer rescinded so quickly after offensive speech came to light would likewise win their lawsuit, and they likewise should.

      should, probably, but would, I’m skeptical. Maybe if the adjunct were denied the job, and the chancellor and president followed the denial with an explanation about civility being important for classroom teaching, then yes. But I imagine it would be quite easy to non-hire the adjunct. Or if it’s too close to the start of the semester, keep the adjunct on and then offer no more jobs after that semester is over.

      The fact that the law protects you doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford the legal representation to gain that protection. Also, the adjunct who seeks legal redress will, if the case makes it to court, likely be google-able by any future employers as “someone who sues his/her employers.”

      On the issue of academic speech vs. freedom of speech, I agree.Report

      • The inability to afford representation is something I should have acknowledged as a contravening factor. In terms of winning if the adjunct has the resources for representation, though, things kind of cut both ways.

        If the adjunct is dumped immediately, then odds are it won’t be hard to have enough to get pretty far on the timing issue alone. If the university waits it out, they’ll have a better shot at winning perhaps, but the odds will be pretty good that our adjunct will have gotten some threats from above or at the very least heard some things through the grapevine that he can allege in his complaint and ride pretty far, far enough to force the employer to show a legitimate reason for refusing to renew his contract and rack up some serious litigation costs themselves. That, or everyone quickly decides that settlement is the best option once the initial hurdles are cleared.

        Functionally, it works like a discrimination lawsuit, so we are talking about some pretty messy litigation, and given that I probably shouldn’t have gone so far as to say “would” win. But again, that’s going to be equally true of an adjunct and a tenured professor, at least on the First Amendment claim.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        That’s what happens all the time- the adjunct finishes the semester and then doesn’t come back to teach the same course when it’s offered next time. Who can say if they were really fired? I had a friend who taught at the local university for a few years until students complained that he offered an optional extra credit assignment that involved seeing a cultural event on a Saturday and some of them worked Saturdays. In that case, the university told him they wouldn’t have him back because students complained. So, I am skeptical that an adjunct wouldn’t be let go for saying something offensive that led to a public outcry.Report

      • Oh, I have no doubt that an adjunct would be let go for something he said. I’m just saying that a public university letting him go for that reason would be unconstitutional no less than if they did so to a tenured professor. But just because something is unconstitutional doesn’t mean that it isn’t done.Report

      • I think I agree with you, then, Mark. But it also sheds a little more light on why in this case, it seems to be shaping up as a “prerogatives of tenured faculty” issue and why some wish to make it an issue of academic freedom and not freedom of speech. (Others, of course, are making it an issue of shared governance and departmental autonomy and due process, which in my opinion is where the most effective protests come from.)

        I think it’s a lot like the “I’d rather have the rights of an Englishman than the rights of a human” phenomenon. The tenured person denied a tenured job for something he said that’s related to some of what he’s published (Salaita may be a scholar of American Indians, but he has published on the Palestinian issue) enjoys in practice more speech rights because he has the support of semi-autonomous institutions, like tenured faculty and individual university departments who are distressed at what they see as the administration’s unilateralism.

        For the record, I’ve known people who go a lot further than being merely disturbed at Mr. Salaita’s rhetoric and who call it out as an eliminationist, pro-genocide speech, and even some of those want him reinstated/hired because of the procedural issues (and probably also because of free speech issues).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      I don’t see this as an academic freedom issue, either. A Native American studies professor’s academic field is not Middle Eastern politics. Academic freedom does not mean an academic gets to yell about anything at all.

      Free speech, that’s a different matter.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        “Academic freedom does not mean an academic gets to yell about anything at all.”

        this is, as you no doubt know, not the popular interpretation of this concept among your peers.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Surely though, as an ethnic studies professor it’s somewhat reasonable to claim the protection of academic freedom when commenting on ethnic conflicts.

        I mean, I wouldn’t say “Mr. Hanley teaches political science, and therefore his comments on economics and sociology don’t fall under academic speech protections.”Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        “Surely though, as an ethnic studies professor it’s somewhat reasonable to claim the protection of academic freedom when commenting on ethnic conflicts.”

        and convenient, too. 🙂

        i mean, i guess? depending on whom you talk to, everything that happens is academic freedom. i sometimes joke about a professor taking hostages in a liquor store during a robbery gone bad, and yelling “academic freedom” as he runs through the front doors. the cops are unable to touch him, a la 70s handwringing about cops being cuffed by the constitution, etc. it’s much funnier in person.

        i am no defender of israeli government policy, which is generally gobsmackingly awful, but one not need be to think that it would be hard to argue that this guy would totally, definitely, absolutely treat students disagreeing with him with respect and decency, or that he’d foster an atmosphere of inquiry in his classroom.

        regardless, the dude is a stand-in for the larger expression of concern about the loss of a tenured position. and the larger loss of privilege from the professor’d classes. he’s a symbol of something larger. the israeli stuff is only important as a catalyst.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        At law, academic freedom is a flavor of free speech. Gets a pretty wide berth when it comes up.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Alan,

        Well, I also teach courses that count in economics, so I’m covered there. 😉

        But what if I start making anti-vaxer arguments? Sure, the Constitution protects me, but does acadrmic freedom as a concept really come into play.

        Or an art historian yelling at a student who doesn’t believe in AGW?Report

      • James,

        Wouldn’t it depend, for example, on what kind of “anti-vaxxer” argument you were making? Maybe you would be studying anti-vaxxers as a political movement, and some would interpret your efforts to take it seriously as a de facto endorsement of anti-vaxxing? Or maybe you would adopt a hardline view that regardless of the merits of vaccination, a person’s control over their own body ought to be absolute and therefore they should have the right not to be harrassed about their vaccination choices?

        (For the record, I would agree with taking the movement seriously as a political movement. I disagree with the hardline view on bodily autonomy.)

        As for yelling at a student, I agree that’s not academic freedom. But it wouldn’t have to be about AGW. I could be yelling at a student about how awful the American Revolution was, and if I’m not doing it to good pedagogical purpose–or if I’m just bullying the student–then even that’s not academic freedom, even though the subject is nominally a “historical” one.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        But what if I start making anti-vaxer arguments?

        We’d know you’re a risc-loving alpha type.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      I think it’s worth noting that there’s a serious parallel between his own discipline and the situation he’s commenting on, to the extent that I can’t really accept the assertion that his statements have nothing to do with his academic background.

      He is a professor of Native American studies, and the situation he’s protesting against can be reasonably described as the displacement of an indigenous population by economically and militarily superior European settlers and the direct descendants thereof. While there are pretty reasonable objections to the level of violence suggested by his comments, it would be incredibly chilling to suggest that Doctor Salaita shouldn’t have an opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or that such opinion is completely divorced from his academic positions.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        He is a professor of Native American studies, and the situation he’s protesting against can be reasonably described as the displacement of an indigenous population by economically and militarily superior European settlers and the direct descendants thereof.

        Yes, this.Report

      • Avatar Dand says:

        I suppose there would be a parallel if whites lived in North America thousands of years before Native Americans and were conquered and persecuted by the Native Americans; in reality there is no parallel. the Jews are not European they are native to the area and were forced to live in exile for thousands of years.

        A more accurate parallel would by the Jews the Native Americans and the Arabs to the Europeans.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Anybody who sees the Zionist movement in this way is a complete and utter idiot. First, the Jews that settled in Israel/Palestine were not and did not perceive themselves to be white. In most places where they lived, Jews were viewed as aliens if the communities could be traced back centuries or even thousands of years. Hence, all the cries of Jews out. Any attempt to impute whiteness on the Jews is simply trying to deny Jews justice. Second, the Zionist movement was not sponsored by any European government but was a bottom up movement of national liberation for the Jewish people. Third, its not like there were zero Jews in Israel/Palestine when the Zionist movement started. There were 25,000 of us there. Why do people think that the Christians and Muslims of Palestine and other places in the Middle East have a right to exclude Jews from the body politic because thats basically what they are doing when they say Jews don’t have a right to live there.

        Leftist anti-Semites like Salaita piss me off the most. They keep calling upon us to help others because of our history of persecution but when we need help they call us white and abandon us. Without Israel, millions of Jews would be an at the mercy of barbaric enemies like all the other minorities in the Middle East today.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Actually, only about half of Israelis are descended from Europeans. The rest are Jews from Arab and/or Muslim countries (or their descendents) or non-Jews (Arabs, Druze, etc.)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @katherinemw

        First thing:

        http://popchassid.com/10-photos-to-remind-you-that-jews-dont-fit-into-a-stereotype-and-never-have/

        Second Thing:

        I’ve written about this before. The term Anti-Semitism was coined by a 19th century German writer named Willhelm Marr. He wrote a book called “The Triumph of Jewishness (or Semiticism over Germanism” The book argued that Jews were distinct and separate from Europeans and would never ever be able to fully integrate into European society. This eventually gave rise to the Nazi idea that Jews needed to be eradicated from the world because they were a vermin, a disease on human kind.

        If you are going to keep on insisting that Jews are nothing more than Europe occupier, you are showing very little knowledge of Jews, Judaism, and Jewish history. You are also not showing Jews the dignity and decency that we agreed upon in Redskins article that must be given to people who are different than you.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I haven’t been able to get a hold of his books yet, but I wanted to mention in the post and couldn’t figure out how to shoehorn it in that he has at least five published books and judging by Amazon descriptions, three have to do with Arab-Americans and two have to do with Israel/Palestine. It sounds as if one of them argues that there are parallels with that situation and the colonizing of the New World. Some of his tweets make that argument anyway.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Every Ashkenazi Jew is a descendent of 350 Middle Eastern Jews that immigrated to Eastern Europe 600 to 800 years ago.

        http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/184252/study-says-all-ashkenazi-jews-are-30th-cousins

        @rufus-f, many of the anti-Salaita forces found it at least puzzling that a person whose published work seems mainly to be on Arab-Americans and Israel/Palestine would be hired to teach in a department devoted to Native American studies.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Every Ashkenazi Jew is a descendent of 350 Middle Eastern Jews that immigrated to Eastern Europe 600 to 800 years ago.

        You can learn a lot about the political history of Europe by following the movement, sometimes willing but all too often forced, of Jewish people across the Continent over time.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Lee,
        Funny how someone who looks so slavic, and not jewish can say stuff like that, isn’t it? I feel that there was a lot of intermarriage — and I know jews who can trace their blood back to neanderthals, which sure as fuck ain’t from the Middle East.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Lee,
        that study sounds awful impressive… until you ask yourself what is the degree of inbreeding of NYC Jewry.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kim, first you have no idea what I look like. As somebody once said with my face I can only be “Jewish, Italian, or Greek.” Saul and I look very Mediterranean and have been perceived as everything from Portuguese to Persian. Arabs have mistake us for Arab twice. Second, the European part of Ashkenazi genes are from Southern European groups like the Italian, Greeks, and Sardinians. Very few of the European genes are from Northern European groups.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Can we kickstart a fund for psychological counselling for Kim?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Lee,
        I thought Saul was describing what you guys look like a couple posts ago. If he was in fact merely describing what he thought of as “stereotypical Jew” you have my apologies.

        Do you actually have a breakdown on that statement? The Greeks had multiple invasions of different bloodlines, after all, and many barbarians settled in Italy.

        It’s been years since I foolishly sparked a 3 hour lecture on how alexander the great could have blue eyes, and yet most greeks are dark-haired and darkeyed… I have forgotten most of it.

        But simply because the breeding occurred in the south, doesn’t mean that the bloodlines didn’t start out further north.

        Me? I phenotype as Danish, complete with blue eyes and freckles, and very, very fair skin.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        @leeesq @dand
        Consider what just happened here.

        I made up an off-the-cuff argument about why a native american studies professor might have academic interest in Palestine–one that, it turns out, is actually pretty close to the academic scholarship for which he was presumably hired.

        Your response to it wasn’t to say that it doesn’t matter, that the vitrol and implied violence of his public twitter comments should not be protected by academic freedoms regardless of how they interact with a professor’s field of study, or make other philosophical arguments about the nature of tenure and academic freedom.

        Instead, you put forth evidence that undercut the factual claims of my hypothetical. That is, you made a fundamentally academic argument.

        That’s how it’s supposed to work. That’s exactly the sort of exchange that tenure is meant to protect and foster. Salaita makes his arguments about the similarity in historical narratives and counter-discourse of the cultures he’s studying, some other academic says he’s wrong and writes more books about why, a bunch of other scholars chime in on the subject, and the body of human knowledge is improved through their work, even if one or two of them get really upset about people dying in the middle east and write abominable, borderline-racist things on twitter.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @alan-scott, this is how its supposed to work. The problem is that the Pro-Palestinian side feels so righteous about the cause that they aren’t interested in open, academic debate. In fact, they have been known to schedule meetings and votes on the principle of avoiding anybody who might make an argument against them.

        http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/184454/cuny-bds-group-schedules-anti-israel-vote-for-shabbat

        Or interestingly enough, from a conference where Steven Salaita gave a talk:

        http://hurryupharry.org/2014/01/07/academic-conference-from-hell/

        Many of the more vehement pro-Palestinian advocates see Israel and the Zionist movement as evil incarnate, the sum of all Western and white evil towards people of color. Now, one can make a good faith argument that Zionism might not have been the best answer to the Jewish predicament but lots of anti-Zionists have trouble understanding why Jews would develop a nationalist reaction even though they were facing nationalist pressures. This is though they can easily understand such things when its people of color having a nationalist reaction. They are some of the most hypocritical people I have ever met.Report

  5. One question, slightly off-topic, is what people here think about a public university’s department’s refusal to hire someone based on their private speech before we get to a formal hiring stage? Would that be a violation of freedom of speech? It seems to me the people hell-bent on defending the prerogatives of tenured faculty and “shared governance” would say it wouldn’t be a violation. To me it’s not so clear.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Voltaire’s “I may not agree with what you say” seems so absolutely alien today, doesn’t it?

    Well, I might fight to the death for your *RIGHT* to say it, but I reserve the right to prevent you from being hired over the instance of you actually saying it.

    I might fight to the death for your *RIGHT* to say it, but please don’t even make jokes about saying it.

    Surely Voltaire didn’t mean stuff like what you are saying.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I have a comment stuck in moderation. Please help.Report