AUT boycott follow-up

by Eszter Hargittai on May 16, 2005

From the APSA:

“The American Political Science Association, through action by its Council and its Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights, and Freedoms, supports the views expressed in the May 3, 2005 statement by the AAUP against academic boycotts. We join in condemning the resolutions of the AUT that damage academic freedom and we call for their repeal.”

I am waiting for the American Sociological Association to follow with a similar statement. According to Jeff Weintraub, the ASA Council has taken the matter under consideration, but no outcome so far.

UPDATE: The Middle East Studies Association joins in: “We strongly urge the Association to withdraw or rescind this resolution to boycott these universities and blacklist their faculty at the very earliest opportunity.”

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Signifying Nothing
05.16.05 at 11:02 pm



Eve Garrard 05.16.05 at 4:14 pm

So far, the local AUT branches of Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Warwick, the Open University, Sussex, and Salford universities have all voted for rescinding the boycott. Of course there are many more local branches who have still to consider it. But right now things don’t look hopeless for the national AUT meeting on the topic on May 26th.


phil 05.16.05 at 7:18 pm

The ASA is usually slow to act, because it takes the bureaucratic wheels a lot to get them moving. E.g., before there can be a vote, there has to be a vote on whether to have a vote.

Remember how long it took them to come out against the Iraq war?


Jerry 05.16.05 at 8:22 pm

Does this mean the universities will begin seeking greater ideological diversity in their faculties and eliminate the overwhelming liberal bias?


djw 05.16.05 at 11:17 pm

It’s very rare that I can say “I’m proud to be a member of APSA” without a hint of irony, sarcasm, or self-deprecation…


abb1 05.17.05 at 2:19 am

So, the APSA is against all academic boycotts, correct?

Take any government, the worst government you can imagine – the APSA will condemn any boycott against any academic working for this government; every scientist whatever the science and/or methods he/she is using is off the hook.

Are you sure you all agree with this position?



bi 05.17.05 at 6:21 am

Jerry, it’s academic freedom, not freedom to bull.


Michael B 05.17.05 at 11:55 am


Your own bull is pronounced, in addition to deriving from kneejerk, reactionary pieties and an overbearing quantity of self-satisfaction.

Too, it’s particularly telling herein, precisely in terms of the highly fevered ideological religiosity so often in evidence, that this AUT post receives but seven replies (even fewer once the partisan sniping is subtracted) while a pious simplisticus, red-meat issue like the one invoked by the News-Tweak article receives over 150 replies.

Venom and malice, along with reductionist partisanship, come readily from this congregation of conformists and opportunists, while genuinely thoughtful and substantive commentary about a truly worthy issue, such as this AUT topic, comes sparingly at best.

Ergo: freedom to bull, indeed, and tellingly so.

Then again, it’s not as if serious dialog, debate or exchanges in general are being sought in the first place. When a highly fevered ideological religionist, in a pious congregation such as this, already possesses the truth, such niceties can either be finessed or can be dispensed out of hand, e.g., reduced to the ubiquitous, sweepingly dismissive – snarl and sneer.



goesh 05.17.05 at 12:18 pm

Maybe the ASA can hawk some mugs and t-shirts in opposition to the boycott. They can walk it and drink from it rather than taking an actual position on the matter and making it official. Last I saw, Weintruab’s petition had 600+ signatures.


Eszter 05.17.05 at 12:39 pm

The petition is close to 4,500 signatures at this point.


Michael B 05.17.05 at 12:58 pm

Sufficiently respectful, thoughtful and individuated letters can be sent to APSA as well. They tend to have much more efficacy than form letters or Emails, assuming they are both respectful and also cogently reflect both the broader social/political situation as well as the more specific boycott per se.


bi 05.17.05 at 1:42 pm

Wow… Michael B, you’re able to figure out so many things about me from just an 8-word sentence from me. Who woulda thunk? Eh? Eh? :)

Oh wait, I see you use a lot of nice big words. Am I talking to a liberal elitist here? Or am I talking to a libertarian elitist here?

Or let me rephrase your words in words which Joe Schmoe can understand:

_Hey look! The Newsweek news is nothing compared to this! OMG! The APSA speaks out against the boycott! Look, it signals the start of an epic war along the scale of Ben Hur, LotR, RoTK, and Star Wars I-IV all combined! Flushing someone’s holy book down the toilet bowl, how can it compare to APSA’s epic announcement? The Quran? Pah! Rights of Muslims? Hrmph! Religious freedom? Snort!_

Hmm, maybe you’re right. But I say, the biggest news item in the entire universe is this: I just updated my blog, so go worship it now, you moron!


abb1 05.17.05 at 2:06 pm

Here’s a thoughtful pro-boycott argument for you: Why Boycott Israel. Mr. Barghouti says:

(D) Israeli academics are largely progressive and at the vanguard of the peace movement, and therefore they must be supported not boycotted.

This is simply a myth propagated and maintained by Israeli academics who count themselves in the “left.” The vast majority of Israeli academics serves in the army’s reserve forces, and therefore directly knows of and participates in the daily crimes. Moreover, with the exception of a tiny yet crucial minority, Israeli academics are largely supportive of their state’s oppression or are acquiescently silent about it.

…and I suspect he’s quite correct. Israeli academics that I personally know (quite a few, actually, mostly mathematicians) who still live there are as much right-wing Arabophobic bigots as any ultra-orthodox wingnut from Jerusalem. Sad but true.


Dick Fitzgerald 05.17.05 at 3:38 pm

You good Zionists must oppose a boycott of a country founded on endless terrorism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. I assume all of you, to be consistent, opposed the boycott of apartheid South Africa


Michael B 05.17.05 at 3:41 pm

The rephrasing: 180 degrees wrong.

And, in part, it’s an illiberal, self-satisfied ideologue/academic being mimiced, a common and commonly conforming species, particularly known for their multiplicity of ad hoc commandments, such as:

“We can dish it out aplenty and as aggressively as we like, but should never have to take it, for we are the righteous.”


bi 05.17.05 at 11:14 pm

_180 degrees wrong._

Talk about knee-jerk responses! Ha!

It’s not like your big long words add anything to the discussion anyway. They’re just nothing but unsubstantiated whines about OMG those liberals are so illiberal. Any academic worth his salt can see through all that.


Michael B 05.17.05 at 11:35 pm

No doubt.


Eyal 05.18.05 at 4:59 am

It’s somewhat ironic that Omar Barghouti accuses Israel of sustaining an apartheid regime and stifling free speech (both in the article linked here and others), given that he’s a PhD student at Tel Aviv University.


bi 05.18.05 at 5:13 am

Stifling free speech? Where did he say that?


Eyal 05.18.05 at 8:32 am

One of the Guardian articles after the boycott was declared, IIRC


Joshua Salik 05.20.05 at 2:28 am

Boycotting is like suicide-bombing – the first casualties are the boycotters.

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