June 04, 2006

So much for the "all-powerful" Zionists

As some oft do around here (meaning, locally) to "prove" that others' points are somehow misguided (to say the least), I figured I'd indulge in a little of the same. Case in point: the belief that any criticism of Israel or Israeli policy actions lead to unwarranted charges of anti-Semitism. Certainly there are people out there who are (wrongly) quick (or even slow) to utilize the charge when not appropriate. But, of course, there are times when the charge is appropriate.

But I digress.

My point today is that the atmosphere of leftist political correctness has led to what could be termed "the opposite" scenario: A professor at DePaul University was fired "for the 'crime' of speaking to the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian mindset that has come to dominate the DePaul campus."

For 15-20 minutes, [Thomas] Klocek, who is Catholic, not Jewish, confronted a group of 8 students manning two tables for the groups Students for Justice in Palestine, and United Muslims Moving Ahead. Klocek says he argued that the materials the groups were disseminating were one-sided.

Klocek says the discussion was heated at times, and he admits to raising his voice. He says he told the students that Palestinians were Arabs who lived in the West Bank and Gaza – that they had no unique national historical identity . He challenged one student's assertion that Israel was behaving like the Nazis. He stated that while most Muslims were not terrorists, pretty much all terrorists these days were Muslim. This statement had originally been made by the manager of an Arab news channel, and had recently been quoted in the Chicago Sun Times. It has the incidental merit of being true.

Agree or disagree with Klocek -- and considering that a professor like Ward Churchill is still employed despite the argument that his speech was much more offensive -- DePaul's actions in response to Klocek are preposterous. And, a judge agrees:

A defamation suit was filed in Illinois' Cook County Chancery last June charging that DePaul University and its leadership defamed Professor Thomas Klocek when DePaul publicly characterized arguments he presented to members of Palestinian and Muslim student groups as racist and bigoted.

Yesterday, Judge Stuart Nudelman of the Illinois Circuit County Law Division Court agreed that Klocek's claims have merit, which will allow his suit against DePaul to move forward toward a trial by jury. Klocek's advocates characterized the Judge's statements in court this way:

Judge Nudelman believes that DePaul's actions to discipline Professor Thomas Klocek went to such extreme that their conduct rose to the level of defamation. He noted that DePaul exhibited destructive political correctness when it gave way to its fear of students' reactions to Prof. Klocek's challenges to the student groups' literature and perspective on the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Judge Nudelman also commented that if such limited debate took place when he was a student, it would have resulted in having an inferior educational experience.

Judge Nudelman also stated that DePaul's public disclosures about Prof. Klocek defamed him in that they denigrated his ability to perform as a professor.

We've opined that even execrable folk like Ward Churchill, a public employee and tenured professor, should in no way be fired for their speech. We've also shown how professors with the "correct" offensive speech aren't as vigorously hounded by their universities as those with the "incorrect" offensive speech. And it's also revealing to note (regarding prof. Klocek) that

What is surprising at DePaul is that groups which might normally come to the defense of a beleaguered professor unjustly removed from his position have been nowhere in sight. The ACLU has been silent. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has also not yet gotten involved. Perhaps for these groups, the "crime" of defending Israel may trump a professor's right to free speech.

Or, because these groups all share the same "groupthink" when it comes to certain issues.

And this comment by Klocek's immediate superior makes you wonder -- again -- just what the hell some people in the ivory tower are thinking:

"No one should ever use the role of teacher to demean the ideas of others or insist on the absoluteness of an opinion, much less press erroneous assertions."
Let's see -- a college professor engaging college students in a debate is now "demeaning." "Absoluteness of opinion" now equates to "defending your point of view." "Erroneous assertions" in this case means "Israel is wrong."

This supervisior of Klocek is Dean Susanne Dumbleton. It couldn't be more appropriate.

The students did not even know Klocek was a professor until they asked, which is significant since DePaul argued that Klocek used his "power" as a professor over the students. They even reasoned that Klocek's "older age" itself was a "power relationship." Guess that means I'd better not get into any debates/arguments with any of my younger co-workers from now on, eh?

You gotta love the modern academy, folks.

John J. Miller has a lot more about the case.

Posted by Felix at June 4, 2006 10:29 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Amazingly, the ACLU has not been heard from as more and more of these cases pop up. I wrote some time ago on the closing of the art show at Penn State, and how clear it is that the show was closed not because it took a political stance, but because it took a political stance that was objectionable to Palestinians and other Muslims on the campus. Indeed, if these are institutions of higher learning, don't all positions need to be covered? One would hope that groups liek the ACLU would remember the importance of education and of challenging students to really think about all sides of an issue, and would work to stop the Universities that try to mute the pro-Israeli opinion.

Posted by: scottage at June 8, 2006 12:41 PM

The Nation had a similar controversy over an ad placed by FLAME which said that Palestinians were not a nationality. I believe The Nation is still standing by the ad.

Posted by: 4jkb4ia at June 12, 2006 10:35 AM

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