Thursday, October 12, 2006

A jab from the Left: New Republic skewers DePaul

For the most part, criticism of Chicago's DePaul University in regards to the Thomas Klocek affair and the numerous Norman Finkelstein atrocities have come from conservative minded publications such as FrontPage Magazine, National Review, and the American Thinker. An Alan Dershowitz article about Finkelstein appeared in on the Huffington Post, but pretty much, the well-deserved assault on DePaul has come from the Right.

But today I came across an article from New Republic Online. New Republic is well to the left of people like John Kerry and Al Gore.

From a piece by Marty Peretz, "The Spine:"

The first case involves Thomas Klocek, who for 14 years was a DePaul "adjunct instructor" at the School for New Learning (as opposed, I gather, from the "old learning"), one of those academic indentured servants who now make up perhaps 50 percent of faculty in higher education, people usually without offices, benefits, job safety, and status. He was suspended from his job and then dismissed without so much as a hearing for hurting the feelings of some Palestinian students, not his students and not in his class but at a campus cafeteria where members of Students for Justice in Palestine and United Muslims Moving Ahead had set up two tables with leaflets. Klocek, a pious Catholic, confronted the people at the table saying that their materials were distorted. An angry confrontation ensued, during which Klocek quoted the director of Al Arabiya TV as stating, "While not all Muslims are terrorists, it is a sad fact that almost all terrorists are Muslims." This, alas, is an indisputable fact, as clearly Pope Benedict grasps. Would the Holy Father be permitted to speak at DePaul? Yet a simple truth was grounds for Klocek's dismissal. Another statement Klocek uttered that led to his firing was that "Palestinian" is a "twentieth-century construction." It certainly isn't a nineteenth-century construction or an eighth-century one, either. This is true for the peoples of the entire Arab world, save for Egypt. And, to those who lay claim to be members of the Iraqi nation or the Lebanese nation (or, for that matter, the Palestinian nation) I, we ask: When will you behave as a nation? Your nationhood is in your hands.

The second case revolves around Norman Finkelstein who, a quarter century after getting his PhD and after having taught at Hunter and Brooklyn Colleges and New York University, is now an assistant professor of political science at DePaul. This is a stunning instance of downward mobility. Richly deserved. But no students deserve to be under the tutelage of Finkelstein. His initial appointment and now his pending designation as tenured professor have been supported on the grounds of academic freedom. This makes an at best flawed process--forgive the Catholic terminology--the equivalent of a papal bull. In fact, a papal bull would encounter more discussion and objections among faithful Catholics then Finkelstein's supporters would permit his scholarly critics. The fact is that Finkelstein is not a scholar. He is a nut case. There are many contentious issues in Holocaust history. But he is a Holocaust denier. That is like denying that slavery existed in America and that the economy of the South was based on slavery. Someone who denied this would not get a faculty appointment, and, if he did, one would think it much more than odd and the academics who made the appointment either stupid or malevolent. This would not be a process that could or should be defended on the grounds of academic freedom. An appointment certified by a department chair and a university president may still be intellectually preposterous. If you want to get more information on both the Klocek and Finkelstein cases just search for them on Google, 14,000 and 900,000 citations, respectively.

DePaul must be well aware that Google is filled with less than flattering references to itself via Google and Yahoo! But they have no one to blame but themselves.

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