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Friday, September 12, 2014

U of Illinois trustees vote 8-1 to reject hate speech purveyor

The trustees of the University of Illinois have voted 8-1 not to hire Native American studies professor Steven Salaita because of his hate speech.
The 8-1 decision came after top university administrators said they could not recommend hiring Salaita. His job offer was pulled last month after he wrote contentious social media posts about Israeli military action in Gaza, some of which contained profane and inflammatory language.
The rare, if not unprecedented, board decision to reject a faculty hire set the stage for either a lawsuit or a financial settlement in a case that already has led to a difficult fall semester at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the state’s flagship public university. Students have held protests on campus while faculty have argued the decision is an affront to free speech and academic freedom — the principle that protects faculty who have unpopular and controversial views.
Salaita’s attorney, Anand Swaminathan, said after the vote that “the only real route available at this point is to pursue litigation.” Salaita was scheduled to start Aug. 16 with a tenured position in the American Indian studies department, but Chancellor Phyllis Wise told him Aug. 1 that she was rescinding the job offer.
Salaita had resigned from his position on the faculty at Virginia Tech University after accepting the U. of I. job in October, but Wise began raising concerns about his Twitter posts after getting feedback from donors, students and parents in July.
Over the summer, Salaita posted prolifically about the Israeli government and its military actions in Gaza, sometimes dozens of times a day. He often focused on the number of children killed in the conflict. His academic interests are colonialism and the Middle East, and the last book he published was titled “Israel’s Dead Soul.”
Salaita has described his Twitter language as “passionate and unfiltered,” and has said his approach in the classroom is different, one where he encourages debate.
One of his posts that has garnered much attention was from June 20, soon after three Israeli teens were kidnapped and later found dead. “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the (expletive) West Bank settlers would go missing.”
On July 31, he wrote: “Next time a Zionist asks you to ‘dialogue,’ remind him that you heard everything he had to say when #Israel was murdering children in #Gaza.”
It was that kind of language that U. of I. President Robert Easter and Wise alluded to when asking the board not to approve Salaita’s appointment.
Read the whole thing. He sounds like the perfect candidate for a position at Bir Zeit on the Hudson.

Earlier, the Chicago Tribune, which leans pretty far left, came out against Salaita's appointment.
[Referring to the first tweet quoted above] If that one doesn't strike you as reprehensible, substitute "African-American" or "gay" or "women" for "West Bank settlers" and imagine sitting in a classroom run by the author of that remark.. . .
Salaita was supposed to teach in the American Indian studies program, but his social media persona is built around vehement criticism of Israel, particularly its military operation in Gaza. But it wasn't his political views that cost him the job. We're sure there are plenty of other U. of I. professors who have taken sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Salaita was dumped because his tweets crossed the line from caustic commentary to hate speech. Some of his remarks come uncomfortably and irresponsibly close to endorsing violence against individuals or groups of people. Some are racist. At the very least, they would create a hostile environment in which others must work or study.
Salaita has every right to say anything he wants, about Israel or anything else, but not without consequence. The university can and should weigh his public statements when deciding whether he'd be a suitable and productive faculty member.  . . .
There's plenty of room at the U. of I. for passionate intellectual discourse. There's room for profanity, vitriol and provocative language. But there's no reason to make room for hate speech.
Indeed. Although the result is still a pleasant surprise. 



At 3:24 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Hey, but UC San Diego seated Herbert Marcuse back in the day! And that was under Gov. Reagan! Marcuse told me face to face that only a few million Americans would have to die, as they brought down the American system from the inside. And now look... that's who we've got bringing down the American system, infused from top to bottom! Is U Illinois acting on principle, or just chicken?

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

BTW Israel could use a County Clerk land registry against a guy like this Salaita guy. It would give Israel supporters (such as myself) an excellent tool to expose these Fascists. Why would one not want to do that? Hmmm... I wonder...


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