The Freedom of the University

by Ingrid Robeyns on September 17, 2014

In January 1951, Robert Maynard Hutchins, President and later Chancellor at the University of Chicago, published a short paper in Ethics, called “The Freedom of the University”. Any academic who hasn’t read it, should read it. And if you are currently engaged in the protests against the hirefire of Steven Salaita (see Corey’s posts here and here and here and here and here and here and here), or if you worry about what Corey rightly called a contemporary instance of McCarthyism, or if you are worried about the influence of money on the universities as Henry discussed here recently, this paper, of a mere ten pages, may be even more interesting for you.

Here’s what Hutchins said in 1951.

Hutchins defined the university as “a center of independent thought” and held the view that “a university faculty is a group set apart to think independently and to help other people to do so”. He was very clear that even if faculty members make arguments and statements that are not popular with the public, they should retain the freedom to do so. Yet more importantly, Hutchins argued that this freedom of the university is important for society itself, rather than only for the faculty:

Such centers [of independent thought] are indispensable to the progress, and even to the security, of any society. Perhaps the short lives that dictatorships have enjoyed in the past are attributable as much to this as to any other single thing: dictatorship and independent thought cannot exist together; yet no society can flourish long without independent thought.

Independent thought implies criticism, and criticism is seldom popular in time of war or of danger of war. Then every effort is made to force conformity of opinion upon the entire population, and the country often goes into an ecstasy of tribal self-adoration. This loss of balance is unfortunate for the country.

The context in which Hutchins wrote was historically a very specific context, in which anyone suspected to have communist sympathies, was no longer sure they could keep their job. Hutchins argued that this great good of independent thought was under threat, since there was a “general atmosphere of repression” caused by ‘McCarthyism’ at American universities.

Hutchin’s argument that the freedom of the university is not only crucial for the very essence of the university itself, but also for a healthy democracy and society, are still valid. They are applicable to other forces trying to attack the university as the center for independent thought, and the institutions established to protect that independence, such as tenure and the democratic governance structures.

When I first read this paper (about a year ago), it struck me that its arguments can be used to analyze the threats against the ‘public university’, since we live in a climate where research is increasingly co-funded by industry (on Industry’s terms and conditions) and where the managerial structure and values of the firm have taken over the way the university is run, and are replacing the democratic governance structures and intellectual values of a center of independent thought. But Hutchins’ arguments are in fact pertinent to all instances where the essential freedom of the university is in danger – and an important current case is the hirefire of Professor Salatai, and the effects this has on other scholars in the US who hold non-mainstream views and want to express them, as well as the ridiculous case of the list of 205 (or 218 or whatever) allegedly anti-Israel professors whom students should avoid.

If you have access, read the whole paper and circulate it. It will show the Chancellor of the University of Illinois that University Presidents/Chancellors can make different decisions then simply to bow for public opinion, majority thinking or other forms of power (like big bags of money). In fact, it is not only that they can resist those pressures – it follows from Hutchins’s arguments that they should. Perhaps someone can send the Chancellor of the University of Illinois a copy of Hutchins’s article, so that she can read it for herself?

{ 53 comments }

1

L.D. Burnett 09.17.14 at 10:07 pm

Thanks so much for this post. I will be interested to see the CT commentariat’s sense of the possibilities — or lack thereof — in this essay by Hutchins, and in Hutchins’s writing on higher education more generally, as a corrective to what ails the academy today. If there is a revival of Hutchins’s thought in/about higher education, that would be a very interesting turn of events, historically speaking.

2

Joshua W. Burton 09.17.14 at 10:10 pm

The ACLU took Hans Hoppe’s case without hesitation and pro bono, earning surprisingly little thanks from his ideological allies for doing so. (Well, not surprising to us here in Skokie.) I wouldn’t personally donate to Dr. Salaita’s private legal defense, but I’d happily help him through the ACLU if they see a way and stand up.

3

Joshua W. Burton 09.17.14 at 10:16 pm

Sorry, “legal complaint” — obviously, Dr. S is not defending himself, and is free to go in peace if he chooses not to sue or settle.

4

ChrisB 09.17.14 at 11:23 pm

Then and now, I oppose academic freedom because that concept essentially accepts that freedom stops at the edge of the campus. Freedom for academics entails nonfreedom for nonacademics, or that academic privilege would be meaningless.
I’d also argue that a remarkably small proportion of independent thought, these days, does as a question of fact come from universities, suggesting that academic freedom is not a particularly effective means of producing this desired good.
Practically and theoretically, I can’t see the point of giving a sectional interest special rights on what should be a universal expectation.
Crying “Fire!” in a crowded lecture theatre….

5

cassander 09.18.14 at 12:58 am

I fail to see how substituting corporate funding for state funding makes the university less independent. At worst, it simply changes for whom the university is shilling.

6

UserGoogol 09.18.14 at 1:04 am

ChrisB: I don’t think academic freedom has to only be about formal academics per se. Academic freedom should be about the general freedom of people to learn and research and express themselves, whether or not it happens to be done in a university. Universities deserve special consideration because they are places specifically organized to assist people in that goal, so access to universities (not merely in the sense of letting people who work there stay there, but also making it easy for people to get into universities in the first place) is important to allowing people to fully exercise their freedoms. But that doesn’t mean the “freelance academic” researching things outside of academia can’t also deserve similar rights to the extent they’re applicable.

7

y81 09.18.14 at 1:17 am

What if you were concerned about David Petraeus being able to teach a course without being mobbed and harassed? What if you were concerned about whether John Yoo would be fired by Boalt? What if you were concerned with Edmund Wilson being shouted down and physically assaulted on university campuses? Would the article be interesting then? Or not so much?

I won’t be reading it.

8

Kevin 09.18.14 at 1:59 am

4: The Hutchins passage quoted in Ingrid’s post is telling — the point of calling it ‘Academic Freedom’ lies the specific social purposes the university, ideally, serves. Academic freedom does not imply that freedom ends at the campus boundary, but that not all freedom is the same or serves the same purpose.

5: It might help to ask what you mean by ‘independent’. Independent of what from what, exactly? Nothing is completely independent. And some things or institutions are free in different ways, according to the purposes they serve. Independence from corporate influence is one thing; independence from the state another. Independent from the neoliberal state of the early 21st century a different think from independence from the post-WWII democratic state of the USA.

9

Main Street Muse 09.18.14 at 2:32 am

Academics want their cake and eat it too. Salaita’s tweets shouldn’t be considered as a fire-able offense because they are not part of his academic CV; his tweets, however unprofessionally expressed (and really, that is an issue, his unprofessional use of language over several weeks, though many wish to ignore that), must be protected as part of academic freedom.

In the US, more than half of higher ed faculty are contingent, unprotected by tenure – that number has grown significantly in recent years and will continue to grow. Academic freedom is a luxury most academics today can’t afford. To use academic freedom to protect the right of a professor to shriek and swear on twitter is sad. Was there “independent thinking” evident in that twitter rant? Salaita offered a poor way to argue, but of course that’s his right to do so.

U of I treated Salaita shabbily. But let’s not feed the trolls by becoming one on twitter.

10

Rich Puchalsky 09.18.14 at 2:43 am

Main Street Muse: “his tweets, however unprofessionally expressed (and really, that is an issue, his unprofessional use of language over several weeks, though many wish to ignore that)”

I tried to challenge you about this in a previous thread, but *why* is that an issue? Are academics supposed to act like academics in every area of life?

Salaita’s supposed lack of what you call “independent thinking”, his “shriek[ing] and swear[ing]”, were a factor in creating a case that appears to be doing significant damage to his political opponents, in that it is now more widely understood that supporters of Israel do attempt to suppress critical speech. Polite, “well thought out” (whatever that means) Tweets would not have done so. Therefore, his political intervention, as a political intervention, has been successful. Why are you assuming academic goals and means for what he intended as political speech?

11

5566hh 09.18.14 at 2:57 am

Some minor typos:

Steven Salatai > Steven Salaita
McCartyism > McCarthyism

12

Meredith 09.18.14 at 3:41 am

I’d urge people to listen, listen to Hutchins. I had to gag a bit at women being secondary school teachers, professors men. But only a bit. Much wisdom here. And please, some commenters, stop responding as if academics believe “privileges” of independence should belong only to them. Of course not. But if not to them, at least, will they belong to anyone?

The French, from Tocqueville to Foucault, with their panopticon view of the world and divinely-righted Louis’s, may have their shortcomings, but they are good at recognizing Anglo pseudo-freedom. The panopticon is easily internalized. It takes discipline and hard work to counter that internalization. So Hutchins, as I read him.

13

ZM 09.18.14 at 4:12 am

The panopticon was English not French – Jeremy Bentham , English liberal utilitarian philosopher, designed it and the Anglo world now has its global successor five eyes .

14

ZM 09.18.14 at 4:15 am

The old gaol here set on top of the hill so everyone has it in view was one of the early panopticon gaols in Australua.

15

Meredith 09.18.14 at 4:26 am

ZM, I don’t claim to know the origins of the panopticon (probably a pretty complex topic, as most such things are). I’m thinking here a certain French, academie francaise view of the world (what with graph paper for note-taking — how weird is that, to non-French!), a central organization, that seems distinctively French, for whatever its glories, or not.
Viewing parchment mss. and first printed editions yesterday of quite an array (including a first edition, 1518 Aldine Aeschylus)…. I was struck by Corneille in 1640, battling it out in a French pamphlet war, with a Louis (divinely righted!) letting it all happen, while the English were battling differently: say, sending all those extreme reformationists to MA and VA. Anyhow, the French and English were different from one another then. (Maybe now, too. And, btw, Scottish claimants rather famously found refuge in France, for what that may be
worth.) I am only trudging through some history.

16

ZM 09.18.14 at 5:08 am

But centralized rule is not a peculiarly French idea. Thomas Hobbes – English philosopher protege of Francis Bacon master of torture – wrote leviathan – where rule should be centralized just as the Copernican revolution found the solar system centred on the sun

17

SalG 09.18.14 at 8:54 am

ChrisB (4): This is a standard confusion that people keep making, and that university administrations have disingenuously used to try to remove university charter protections of academic freedom. There is a fundamental difference between free speech and academic freedom (in Salaita’s case, arguably both are threatened).

Academic freedom protections are special protections of those employed to undertake academic activities *from having their jobs threatened* for views they might express in their research activities and the teaching that is supposed to organically grow from them. Everyone in the US, and to some lesser extent in the UK, has free speech protections, but a special activity, like research, can only be carried out as a public good (the generation of knowledge and understanding) if it has some protections against vested interests, administrators with short-term thinking and short-term agendas, and against public outrage and prejudice. Academic freedom is the specific protection of that kind of activity as a public good. So this specific freedom, which is special because of the function it is supposed to serve, does not entail lack of freedom for others. Whether others in other jobs should have similar employment protections for making their own judgements about the content of their work, is a different and separate matter that probably needs to be argued on a case by case basis. I do not see a special case, based on the production of knowledge and understanding as a public good, for protections for train operators to driving trains just as they judge appropriate (although I do see the protection of their free speech as a constitutional necessity).

18

Rich Puchalsky 09.18.14 at 10:46 am

SalG: “Academic freedom protections are special protections of those employed to undertake academic activities *from having their jobs threatened* for views they might express in their research activities and the teaching that is supposed to organically grow from them. “

No. In the U.S., at least, academic freedom also protects those employed from having their jobs threatened for views they express as citizens. From this AAUP letter:

“We see Professor Salaita’s online statements as extramural activity as a citizen rather than as faculty performance, and the 1940 Statement of Principles cautions that when faculty members ‘speak or write as citizens they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline. . . .””

19

James Wimberley 09.18.14 at 12:38 pm

Chris B: what SalG says. The difference has to be expressed in the contract of employment. An employee normally sacrifices a lot of freedom of speech in work. A civil servant expresses public views consistent with the policies of the government, a manager views consistent with the policies and interests of the company. (Speech within the organization is different, and employees should have internal speech rights of dissent and collective labour organization). Academic freedom marks out the university teacher as someone whose work speech is not constrained by the policies of the employer. It really has to be a difference with the organizational norm. You can certainly argue that other professions should enjoy something similar: doctors, clergy, schoolteachers. But you can’t make it a general right.

20

Greg 09.18.14 at 12:47 pm

SalG: what Rich Pulasky said. Those mounting Salaita’s defence have repeatedly invoked academic freedom, NOT freedom of speech, in regard to his personal tweets (i.e. statements nothing to do with his teaching or research).

This I have also found problematic from day one. Especially when those of us without this particular kind of freedom are asked to sign petitions, and generally help out and support the campaign. It’s a bit cheeky. It’s like asking Palestinian refugees without the right of return to fight for the rights of African asylum seekers in Israel. (Which many of them are happy to do by the way). This comparison is obviously also a bit cheeky but you hopefully get my point.

And the response that has come back is “yes, but we think that you should have this protection as well”. So apparently that’s all right then. And now, “btw, look at this wonderful piece from more than 60 years ago describing all the important and noble benefits of a freedom that you haven’t had all that time.”

This is where I put in a smiley face to show I’m not really as cross as I might sound :)

21

Main Street Muse 09.18.14 at 1:18 pm

“I tried to challenge you about this in a previous thread, but *why* is that an issue? Are academics supposed to act like academics in every area of life?”

I realize this goes against the grain here at Crooked Timber, but academics should strive to act as professionals when they make public statements. Hard as it may be for the academic to do when outside of the classroom…

And really, note to academics: Twitter is a PUBLIC forum. One publishes every time one hits post. View it like that and it makes acting like a professional perhaps a tad easier.

Salaita did not just give one or two unprofessional tweets, but instead, a gave chain of ranting that extended over weeks. Thanks to Salaita’s “arguments” on twitter, we are not talking about Israel’s terrible acts of war; we are not talking at all the crushing acts of violence against citizens in both Palestine and Israel; we are talking about Salaita’s unlimited freedom to swear liberally as he shouts about Israel on Twitter. That is a god-awful place for academia to be, quite frankly.

And again, I hold U of I accountable for this debacle as well. They hired him after fully vetting him but for the BoT approval, scheduled to happen AFTER he was to start work. The whole thing gives ammo to those who despise the academy and seek to defund it. It’s a lose-lose situation all around.

22

Barry 09.18.14 at 1:35 pm

Joshua W. Burton 09.17.14 at 10:10 pm
“The ACLU took Hans Hoppe’s case without hesitation and pro bono, earning surprisingly little thanks from his ideological allies for doing so. (Well, not surprising to us here in Skokie.) I wouldn’t personally donate to Dr. Salaita’s private legal defense, but I’d happily help him through the ACLU if they see a way and stand up.”

Donate to the ACLU.

(I read the linked post, and it was confirming of my biases to see what he said about Keynes)

23

Jonathan Dresner 09.18.14 at 1:35 pm

Those mounting Salaita’s defence have repeatedly invoked academic freedom, NOT freedom of speech, in regard to his personal tweets

Not me. I’ve been using free speech as the key since the Guth flap that got the Kansas Regents to impose the first really draconian social media policy (though academic freedom is also an important ongoing issue as well, as ‘transparency’, ‘transferability’ and ‘quality assurance’ are widely touted Regents System priorities).

24

J Thomas 09.18.14 at 2:31 pm

#21 MSM

Thanks to Salaita’s “arguments” on twitter, we are not talking about Israel’s terrible acts of war; we are not talking at all the crushing acts of violence against citizens in both Palestine and Israel; we are talking about Salaita’s unlimited freedom to swear liberally as he shouts about Israel on Twitter.

That isn’t thanks to Salaita’s twitters. That is thanks to the zionists who got him dehired.

I’m sure they would far prefer that we argue about whether Salaita was too far out of line, and how much punishment he deserved for that, rather than talking about atrocities in Israel/Palestine. They did what wins for them, and they win.

And yet again we blame the victims. In this case, Salaita for saying things that Zionists considered uncollegial.

25

Jonathan Dresner 09.18.14 at 5:06 pm

Thanks to Salaita’s “arguments” on twitter, we are not talking about…

It’s the same move the NRA made when they tried to criminalize David Guth’s tweets in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

If you can’t defend your own innocence, accuse your accuser of rudeness.

Salaita, like Guth, wasn’t taking a particularly egregious position, but he was conveniently positioned to be punished for it, as a faculty member at (or almost at) an institution with Regents/Trustees beholden to political allies of the aggreived.

26

Rich Puchalsky 09.18.14 at 5:28 pm

“I realize this goes against the grain here at Crooked Timber, but academics should strive to act as professionals when they make public statements. Hard as it may be for the academic to do when outside of the classroom…”

I could not disagree more. Academics, like anyone, should feel free to speak in any manner that they like outside of their job requirements.

“Thanks to Salaita’s “arguments” on twitter, we are not talking about Israel’s terrible acts of war”

Politically, this assessment is all wrong. “Talking about Israel’s acts of war” does nothing that Israel actually cares about. Israel depends for its war making on U.S. funds: funds which can’t continue indefinitely unless both major parties in the U.S. remain committed to them. Israel can not be more and more widely seen to be getting academics in the U.S. fired in its interests and have this support continue, because academic freedoms are totemic for the left-of-center in the U.S. If Salaita could do only one thing for the Palestinians, this is probably the most effective thing I could think of.

But more broadly — almost all effective political speech is rude. The idea that academics should be neutered and ineffectual is a political stance of its own.

27

Lynne 09.18.14 at 8:25 pm

Main Street Muse: “Salaita did not just give one or two unprofessional tweets, but instead, a gave chain of ranting that extended over weeks.”

Two questions. Did you read his several weeks of his tweets? I read several days’ worth up to August 1 and found the controversial tweets to be a tiny minority of what he posted.

What would be an appropriate response to the kind of slaughter of innocent noncombatants Salaita was commenting on if ranting was inappropriate?

28

rea 09.18.14 at 9:23 pm

With respect to John Yoo, academic freedom would and ought to protect him if he had simply voiced an opinion. Academic freedom does not encompass commission of crimes against humanity.

29

Joshua W. Burton 09.18.14 at 9:52 pm

Donate to the ACLU.

Card-carrying member, from before I could vote (and long before Gov. Dukakis and his nameless opponent made it a catch phrase). Enough so that I defer to their expert opinion almost unconditionally when balancing “civil” and “liberty,” against the world’s shout and my own gut rumblings. Admittedly, Jewish ACLU lawyers defending Nazis is the one thing my village is famous for, so I might just be rationalizing local pride.

30

Mario 09.19.14 at 12:53 pm

Salaita’s supposed lack of what you call “independent thinking”, his “shriek[ing] and swear[ing]“, were a factor in creating a case that appears to be doing significant damage to his political opponents, in that it is now more widely understood that supporters of Israel do attempt to suppress critical speech. Polite, “well thought out” (whatever that means) Tweets would not have done so.

I think you are overstating the political damage done to his opponents.

The whole episode is a classic in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One side keeps a dubious moral high ground at a staggering personal cost, while the other side still wins PR-wise simply by looking comparatively sane.

There is collateral damage, too. Now a lot of people know things about “American Indian Studies” that were probably not intended for wider circulation (let’s call it the Creationists At The University issue, and leave it at that).

31

J Thomas 09.20.14 at 6:50 pm

The whole episode is a classic in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One side keeps a dubious moral high ground at a staggering personal cost, while the other side still wins PR-wise simply by looking comparatively sane.

Too soon to say.

The zionists win by looking increasingly dangerous. People see it is not safe to speak out against them. But they were in a better position when it looked like they were right or at least justifiable, rather than merely the strongest. And as it becomes increasingly obvious that they are for themselves only and have no effort left for any allies, that hurts them too.

They are weaker from this than they were before. Hard to compare how much they would have lost if they hadn’t initiated this fight. Probably less, but there’s no way to run the experiment.

32

Main Street Muse 09.20.14 at 9:29 pm

To Lynne, yes I read several weeks worth of tweets. It was not just one or two that were unprofessional. And his wife must have done most of the packing, as he was extremely prolific in his tweeting. When I moved cross country several years ago, I had little time for tweeting…

What I hope for in a discussion of such an important issue… academics who choose their words wisely in public forums. Twitter is as public as a letter to the editor. I cannot believe that in such a communication, academics would think a professor should use foul language and wish the deaths of all those in the West Bank.

“You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing.”

That’s some argument. It’s incredible to think people believe this has changed the tide of how we view this issue. It has not. I really don’t think academics understand what Twitter is – that it is not “private” but public – and that it has immense power to change public opinion, when used wisely. But when academics act like twitter trolls, it changes nothing.

Here’s a man who used words to change public opinion in a time of violence and murder – and “fuck whatever is pissing me off at the moment” was not part of his conversation. I think academics should emulate the high road MLK took (I know, how restrictive!) Here’s an example of what he said after terrorists murdered four girls in a church: http://bit.ly/1mrGQl8 Please read it. Words matter.

33

J Thomas 09.20.14 at 10:09 pm

I thought we were past this, MSM. You’ve gone back to arguing that Salaita deserved to be a victim because he wasn’t Martin Luther King.

Of course the oppressors want to blame the victim, but isn’t this one being too obvious?

34

JanieM 09.20.14 at 11:44 pm

MSM, I don’t think hectoring condescension, repeated ad nauseam, is any more persuasive than you think Salaita’s tweets were. It certainly hasn’t persuaded me as I’ve followed these threads; if anything, it has pushed me further away from your point of view.

If you’re being sanctimonious on purpose, I question whether you know much about persuasion. If you’re not being sanctimonious on purpose, then there’s a serious disconnect between your words (Words matter, I’ve heard) and your intentions. Either way, it doesn’t seem to me that you’re in a position to be lecturing the rest of us about effective public discourse.

35

Mario 09.21.14 at 8:55 am

J Thomas,

clearly, you see all this from a completely different perspective. Mind: I am not a jew, and I only know one Israeli in passing, so I think it is safe to say that I have really nothing to do with Zionism. And yet, I think not hiring Salaita was the correct decision, and I know I am not alone. The type of behavior he shows in his tweets, as well as in his book reviews, is simply not acceptable from a professor. Of course, YMMV, but yes, a professor is a professor that represents his institution all day around, seven days a week.

In my eyes, it is a scandal that this unhiring is controversial at all. After all, it wouldn’t be controversial if Salaita was white, and tweeting things about Muslims in general when talking about the IS (and yes, I would agree with having him unhired in *that* case, too). It wouldn’t be controversial at all if it was about blacks or gays. So why in this case? I think I know why, but I leave it as an exercise.

That “Academic Freedom” is absolute is obviously wrong, and then the question is: where do you draw the line? I know where I would draw it. It seems Wise thinks in a similar way.

36

Lynne 09.21.14 at 9:23 am

MSM, hardly a fair comparison. If MLK heard about the girls being killed in church as it happened, what he said then would be comparable to Salaita’s tweets. And even then, even if King said something you approved of, so what? People were being murdered as Salaita tweeted. Context matters.

37

J Thomas 09.21.14 at 11:21 am

People were being murdered as Salaita tweeted.

In all fairness, it can be argued that it wasn’t murder. It was warfare. Or maybe execution of terrorists. And potential terrorists. And all the “innocent” bystanders who got killed, every one of them hated Israel so it could be argued they got what they deserved.

It could be argued that anybody who hates Israel is evil, and gives up all rights as human beings.

It could be argued that it’s OK to criticize particular actions of the Israeli government provided we recognize that they are a sovereign nation and have the right to do anything they want with no consequences. But if you do anything that disadvantages Israel that makes you antisemitic and you deserve anything that happens to you as a result.

Obviously, Salaita hate\s Israel. So why would MSM have any sympathy whatsoever for him?

38

Lynne 09.21.14 at 11:26 am

Five hundred children died in Gaza. Your rationalizations don’t apply to them.

39

J Thomas 09.21.14 at 2:11 pm

Lynne, I don’t stand behind this. But if you won’t understand the other guy’s point of view, how can you have a conversation?

It could be argued that Israel had no reasonable choice but to hit back at Hamas. Hamas was attacking them with missiles with no provocation, only because they hate Israel. And Hamas hid themselves among Palestinian children rather than expose themselves like men to honest attack. So the dead children are real, but they are not in any way Israel’s fault. They are the fault of Hamas, and of their parents for failing to overthrow Hamas. Israel has no responsibility for them. …. And anyway their parents raised them to hate Israel, so they deserve whatever happens to them.

If our own Indian reservations started shooting missiles at US cities, wouldn’t we do airstrikes on them? Of course we would! No nation would put up with that.

Back to speaking for myself, I kind of doubt we’d do airstrikes on reservations. Probably we’d start with our police talking to their police to try to figure out what’s going on, and take it from there. The situations are not parallel. Native Americans are free to get jobs in the USA and the farther they get from the reservation the less prejudice they meet. Tempers are sometimes kind of high, but not like Gaza. Maybe if in 50 years or so Gaza is down to 50,000 people and they are surrounded by Israel on all sides — Israeli Sinai and Israeli North Gaza — then it might be more parallel. Not that we’ve been angels.

Well, but if Canada shot missiles at us, we’d be doing airstrikes on Ottawa pretty quick, right?

It’s hard for me to imagine that. The situations are just not very parallel. Say, Canada shot missiles at the USA and said they wanted us to stop our blockade that lets only a trickle of imports in and exports out. And we say we can’t end the blockade because we think if they had an open border they’d import missiles to shoot at us. The Russians are making a show of helping us enforce the blockade but we know that really they are letting lots of trade get into Canada…. It’s just hard for me to imagine.

40

Lynne 09.21.14 at 2:44 pm

J Thomas, MSM’s point seems to be all about the tone of the tweets. I have no idea whether she sees things the way you portray, I don’t think she has said what she thinks about Israel’s actions.

41

J Thomas 09.21.14 at 3:51 pm

Lynne, I’ve gotten this from a collection of zionists. MSM can disagree with whatever of it she wants.

42

Donald Johnson 09.21.14 at 5:05 pm

J Thomas, is it really necessary to go into details about what some hypothetical Zionist might argue about Gaza, followed by what they might say about what the US might do about Native Americans firing rockets, and then go into detail about what this or that person might say is right or wrong about that analogy and then drag Canada into it? I can’t even tell which parts of it you believe and which you don’t. I feel tempted to respond to the arguments of imaginary people making stupid claims, but what would be the point? If some real Zionists here want to make those arguments, let them do it.

43

Jonathan Dresner 09.21.14 at 5:11 pm

a professor is a professor that represents his institution all day around, seven days a week.

They don’t pay us anywhere near enough for that kind of self-abnegation.

44

J Thomas 09.21.14 at 5:59 pm

OK, Donald. I apologize. If I start to do this again I will try to catch myself and not post it. For what it’s worth, I can see some potential merit in each argument but I tend to think they don’t apply to the actual facts on the ground.

45

Rich Puchalsky 09.21.14 at 6:15 pm

“Of course, YMMV, but yes, a professor is a professor that represents his institution all day around, seven days a week.”

As various elites increasingly release information about people who they want to discredit, good luck. What percentage of professors visit porn sites, do you think? The NSA is already tracking that.

Of course, the people who stridently call for online civility would probably have you believe that they never do anything they’d be embarrassed by. Isn’t that what’s implied by this “professors must act as professors 24/7” standard?

But they’re pseudonymous. So… they must already be worried about it. I don’t understand them at all.

46

ChrisB 09.21.14 at 11:11 pm

OK. I’ll bite.
When Mario at 30 says
“There is collateral damage, too. Now a lot of people know things about “American Indian Studies” that were probably not intended for wider circulation (let’s call it the Creationists At The University issue, and leave it at that).”
what would have been said if he hadn’t left it at that?
I mean, I would have interpreted the line as a suggestion that AIS were part of a wider (indigenous rights? anticolonial? soft on terrorism? Actual content unclear) front, except that that doesn’t seem to fit the Creationists at the University (fundamentalist? lacking an evidence base? universally derided?) tag, and the combination is peculiarly opaque.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.21.14 at 11:26 pm

“I mean, I would have interpreted the line as a suggestion that AIS were part of a wider (indigenous rights? anticolonial? soft on terrorism? Actual content unclear) front, except that that doesn’t seem to fit the Creationists at the University (fundamentalist? lacking an evidence base? universally derided?) tag, and the combination is peculiarly opaque.”

American Indian creation myths are being referred to, presumably, but this vagueness is of a piece with many other pseudonymous Salaita critics. Joshua W. Burton wrote a long, comical song and dance about honor on one of the previous threads, but oddly he seems to have missed out that it’s dishonorable to maliciously gossip about a named person while unnamed. This has modern names like “whispering campaign.” In this case, the threat to Israel’s support is on the left, so Salaita has to be associated with creationists because the left has a bad opinion of them.

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4jkb4ia 09.22.14 at 4:44 pm

almost all effective political speech is rude

I am compelled to write something because this may be limited to the world of 2014. I watched a very little of “The Roosevelts” and saw footage of both FDR’s first and fourth inaugural addresses. The aim of the speech in both cases was NOT to be rude, but to reassure people that someone was in authority and that the people could overcome the challenges in front of them. If the people can see that the crisis in front of them is profound, and there are vigorous rival ideologies, inspirational allows people to see that the system they have has or can find resources and purpose to get out of the crisis. This was extremely effective for Barack Obama in 2008 in getting elected although not in getting very much done.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.22.14 at 5:05 pm

“Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.”

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4jkb4ia 09.22.14 at 5:06 pm

“The Rebel Angels”–
“Lots of youth in a university, fortunately, but youth alone could not sustain such an institution. It is a city of wisdom, and the heart of the university is its body of learned men; it can be no better than they, and it is at their feet that the young come to warm themselves. Because the young come and go, but we remain. They are the minute-hand, we the hour-hand of the academic clock. Intelligent societies have always preserved their wise men in institutions of one kind or another, where their chief business is to be wise, to conserve the fruits of wisdom and to add to them if they can. Of course the pedants and the opportunists get in somehow, as we are constantly reminded; and as Ludlow points out we have our scoundrels and our thieves…But we are the preservers and custodians of civilization; and never more so than in the present age, where there is no aristocracy to do the job. A city of wisdom; I would be content to leave it at that.”

Needless to say the thrust of this whole book is to say that if you rely on a university to transcend being human, you will not make it. A university is composed of humans. Wherever they go and speak publicly, the humans in the university represent more than the institution, they represent the effort to have wisdom; to have a crown as high as the root is deep. The humans embarrass the university if they are clearly fools, not if their opinion is unpopular. Even if you are constrained by a medium not particularly friendly to wisdom like Twitter and you have to shout, representing the university as an idea means not to be more of a fool than you have to be.

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4jkb4ia 09.22.14 at 5:14 pm

49: Right, but that was one line in one convention speech. In 2014 it’s absolutely relevant because it tells people to ignore a conservative media organized around hatred for the left and what they will say. This is why it is the FDR quote I have seen in Blogistan the most.

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Mario 09.22.14 at 8:17 pm

“[…] let’s call it the Creationists At The University issue, and leave it at that).”
what would have been said if he hadn’t left it at that?

Ok, I’ll bite back. Check this out. You know, to me it is abundantly clear that creationism is deeply retrograde and has no place at a university.

In this case, the threat to Israel’s support is on the left, so Salaita has to be associated with creationists because the left has a bad opinion of them.

So in your opinion, it’s all a conspiracy?

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Rich Puchalsky 09.22.14 at 9:28 pm

I think it’s deeply dishonest to try to smear an entire interdisciplinary group of academics by citing one person who, although he started a Master’s Degree program in American Indian Studies, held his latest academic position as a law professor.

As I suspected, you don’t seem to really have a detailed critique of the field. Are you reciting a talking point? I certainly don’t know.

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