COLUMBIA: THE UNIVERSITY OF HATE
I blogged on these fine folk previously -- on October 23rd. Quick summary of what has changed: Nothing.
In the world of Hamid Dabashi, supporters of Israel are "warmongers" and "Gestapo apparatchiks." The Jewish homeland is "nothing more than a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States." It's a capital of "thuggery" - a "ghastly state of racism and apartheid" - and it "must be dismantled." A voice from America's crackpot fringe? Actually, Dabashi is a tenured professor and department chairman at Columbia University. And his views have resonated and been echoed in other areas of the university.
Columbia is at risk of becoming a poison Ivy, some critics claim, and tensions are high. In classrooms, teach-ins, interviews and published works, dozens of academics are said to be promoting an I-hate-Israel agenda, embracing the ugliest of Arab propaganda, and teaching that Zionism is the root of all evil in the Mideast. In three weeks of interviews, numerous students told the Daily News they face harassment, threats and ridicule merely for defending the right of Israel to survive. And the university itself is holding investigations into the alleged intimidation.
Dabashi has achieved academic stardom: professor of Iranian studies; chairman of the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department; past head of a panel that administers Columbia's core curriculum. The 53-year-old, Iranian-born scholar has said CNN should be held accountable for "war crimes" for one-sided coverage of Sept. 11, 2001. He doubts the existence of Al Qaeda and questions the role of Osama Bin Laden in the attacks.... In September in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, he wrote, "What they call Israel is no mere military state. A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their soul."
After the showing of a student-made documentary about faculty bias and bullying that targets Jewish students, six or seven swastikas were found carved in a Butler Library bathroom last month. Then after a screening of the film, "Columbia Unbecoming," produced by the David Project, a pro-Israel group in Boston, one student denounced another as a "Zionist fascist scum," witnesses said.
On Oct. 27, Columbia announced it would probe alleged intimidation and improve procedures for students to file grievances. "Is the climate hostile to free expression?" asked Alan Brinkley, the university provost. "I don't believe it is, but we're investigating to find out."
But one student on College Walk described the campus as a "republic of fear." Another branded the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department the "department of dishonesty."
"Professorial power is being abused," said Ariel Beery, a senior who is student president in the School of General Studies, but stresses he's speaking only for himself. "Students are being bullied because of their identities, ideologies, religions and national origins," Beery said. Added Noah Liben, another senior, "Debate is being stifled. Students are being silenced in their own classrooms." ...
Said Brinkley: If a professor taught the "Earth was flat or there was no Holocaust," Columbia might intervene in the classroom. "But we don't tell faculty they can't express strong, or even offensive opinions."
Yet even some faculty members say they fear social ostracism and career consequences if they're viewed as too pro-Israel, and that many have been cowed or shamed into silence. One apparently unafraid is Dan Miron, a professor of Hebrew literature and holder of a prestigious endowed chair. He said scores of Jewish students - about one a week - have trooped into his office to complain about bias in the classroom. "Students tell me they've been browbeaten, humiliated and treated disrespectfully for daring to challenge the idea that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish nation," he said. "They say they've been told Israeli soldiers routinely rape Palestinian women and commit other atrocities, and that Zionism is racism and the root of all evil." ....
As usual in American universities, everything can be tolerated except conservatives, Christians and Jews.