Boycott DePaul University
By David Peterson at Jun 10, 2007
The [University Board on Promotion
and Tenure] has determined that your
scholarship does not meet DePaul's
tenure standards. Moreover, on the
record before me, I cannot in good
faith conclude that you honor the obligations to "respect the free inquiry of associates," "show due respect for the opinions of others," and "strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues." Nor can I conclude that your scholarship honors our University's commitment to creating an environment in which all persons engaged in research and learning exercise academic freedom and respect it in others.
-- Letter Informing Norman Finkelstein of the Decision to Deny Him Tenure at DePaul University, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, President, June 8, 2007.
So an outstanding academic gets whacked by a first-rate charlatan - slash - thug whose principal task these days -- after doctrinal enforcement of the kind we just witnessed at DePaul and, before then, the University of California Press -- is advocacy for the U.S. Government's limitless, unquestioning support for Israel.
And the President of DePaul University in Chicago goes along with it!
Fall on your knees...
Oh hear the angels' voices!
The mind is a terrible thing to Catholocize.
Parents: Don't raise your kids to beome DePaul University alumni.
President, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider (Homepage)
Letter to the University Board on Tenure and Promotion, Charles Suchar, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, March 22, 2007
Letter Informing Norman Finkelstein of the Decision to Deny Him Tenure at DePaul University, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, President, June 8, 2007
"DePaul University Statement on the Tenure and Promotion Decision Concerning Professor Norman Finkelstein," News Release, DePaul University, June 10, 2007
Israel Defense Forces (Homepage)
Alan M. Dershowitz (Homepage -- devoted to anti-Finkelstein fare)
"Norman Finkelstein: The case against," Alan Dershowitz, The Guardian, June 14, 2007
"Dershowitz Foes Face Scrutiny," Christian B. Flow, Harvard Crimson, June 17, 2007
Campus Watch (Homepage -- very much the same agenda, though with a lot more irons in the fire)
"Professor Finkelstein's DePaul Farewell," Labor Beat, September 5, 2007DePaul Academic Freedom Committee (Homepage)
Activist Student Union (Homepage), DePaul University
Norman G. Finkelstein Solidarity Campaign (Homepage)
"Finkelstein Protest," Chicago Independent Media Center
"DePaul Students Sit-in for Academic Freedom," DePaul Students, Chicago Independent Media Center, June 11, 2007
"Support Petition for Norman Finkelstein's Tenure," Finkelgate.com
"The case for Norman Finkelstein," Matthew Abraham, The Guardian, June 14, 2007
"Why I Plan to Boycott the Catholic Church," Bill Christison, CounterPunch, June 13, 2007
"Finkelstein case: Academic freedom loses to Israeli lobby," Matthew Abraham, Electronic Intifada, June 25, 2007
"Anatomy of a Smear," Bill Williams, CounterPunch, July 2, 2007
"DePaul and the Vatican's Long Leash," Linda Brayer, CounterPunch, July 3, 2007
"The Jihad of Alan Dershowitz," Liaquat Ali Khan, CounterPunch, September 30, 2004
Update (June 14): One of the leaders among the DePaul student protestors wrote to share this news with me:
FYI we got kicked out of our sit in location under the threat of expulsion, even though DePaul President Holtschneider said we could stay there however long we need to prove our point. We have moved to our Student Center.The Faculty Council held a meeting yesterday [June 13] discussing the topic of these tenure cases and resolved to allow an appeals process for both Prof. Finkelstein and Prof. Larudee, though the President in our conversation with him said that he would not reverse the decision even if the faculty had launched an appeal. The Faculty themselves, particularly the junior faculty, are very scared of what has happened because if they are approved by the Department and their College (in this case the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) and still denied by the University at the top level, what kind of security or academic freedom is there for them? The only thing they can do to secure tenure is self-censorship, not to write on controversial topics.I saw [Prof. Finkelstein] yesterday -- he was with some friends and I think that in general his spirits are good. Of course, he feels like crap but I hope he feels that his friends, students and co-faculty are truly supportive of him. I stopped by Norman's office this morning and he is all packed up and ready to go....If you call his office, his voicemail says in a really depressing voice: "you have reached the office of Norman Finkelstein...I will be leaving DePaul on June 16...."
Update (June 17): For starters, I strongly urge everyone to take a look at: "Fallout from a Smear: Finkelstein and The Progressive," John Halle, CounterPunch, June 16/17, 2007.
Now. In what in my opinion is a related matter, take a close look at the horrible interview that The Progressive published this past March with the alleged guru of non-violent activism, Gene Sharp. (The Progressive Interview, March, 2007, pp. 33-37. -- Unfortunately, it still isn't available online.)
Where Sharp and his interviewer, The Progressive's Amitabh Pal, dealt with Sharp's itinerary over a very long career that reaches back to the 1950s, the whole of it read like just what you'd expect from a devout American Cold Warrior: "Communist" regimes targeted by Washington with destabilization were the focus of Sharp's activism.
Then, late in the printed version of the interview, Pal asked Sharp:
Amitabh Pal: So do you see a nonviolent approach working in the other countries that the Bush Administration is targeting, such as Iran?
Gene Sharp: Our work is available in Iran and has been since 2004. People from different political positions are saying that that's the way we need to go. And that kind of struggle broadly has important precedence in Iranian/Persian history, both in the 1906 democratic revolution and in the 1979 struggle against the Shah -- all predominantly nonviolent forms of struggle. If somebody doesn't decide to use military means, then it is very likely that there will be a peaceful national struggle there.
You see what I mean? Both Pal and Sharp were talking about the use of Sharp's activist skills to destabilize -- not the Washington regime, which you might expect any truly progressive American to take an interest in -- but Iran, among the "countries that the Bush administration is targeting...."
On questions of American Power, war, and peace, a disturbingly large segment of the quote-unquote "progressive" and "left" in the USA is in the bag.
Update (August 28): As the Chronicle of Higher Education reported yesterday:
DePaul University has canceled all of Norman G. Finkelstein's courses, taken away his office, and put him on administrative leave for his final year....In a terse statement issued on Sunday [August 26], the university confirmed that it had put Mr. Finkelstein on leave 'with full pay and benefits for the 2007-8 academic year' and that 'administrative leave relieves professors from their teaching responsibilities'. Mr. Finkelstein had been expected to return to DePaul for a final year of teaching, and was scheduled to teach two political-science courses this fall, "Freedom and Empowerment" and "Equality and Social Justice," as well as an honors course on states, markets, and society. Students who had signed up to take those courses got a surprise on Friday, when they were informed, via e-mail, that the classes had been canceled.
(See "DePaul U. Cancels Courses of Professor Who Lost Tenure Bid, but He Plans to Teach Them Anyway," Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 27, 2007; "DePaul pulls plug on controversial professor," Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, August 28, 2007; and "DePaul cancels remaining class of controversial teacher," Associated Press, August 28, 2007.)
If you think about it, the last-minute cancellation of Finkelstein's scheduled and heavily enrolled classes is a much more serious assault on academic freedom than was the denial of tenure in early June. (See, e.g., Letter Informing Norman Finkelstein of the Decision to Deny Him Tenure at DePaul University, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, President, June 8, 2007.)
The tenure-denial bit meant that the University doesn't like Finkelstein, doesn't want him around, and was willing to deny his tenure bid to get rid of him.
But the cancellation of his final year of classes -- pretty unprecedented actions, I believe -- means that the University, as an institution, is openly willing to deprive Finkelstein of his rights as a DePaul University professor, and to overturn longstanding conventions in tenure-denial cases just in order to push him out the door.
This latest move shows that Norman Finkelstein is to be made an example for the rest. Now that is serious.
A friend tells me that (at last count) only 44 out of some 240 tenured faculty members at DePaul University have been willing to sign a faculty-drafted petition in defense of Finkelstein's rights as a member of the institution. This spinelessness is both appalling and, I'm afraid, routine. So, one-in-six tenured academics at DePaul is fit to have contact with young people in classroom situations? I can think of a lot of people who would never set foot on a university campus whose shoes, nevertheless, the other five-in-six refusers aren't fit to shine.
It's hard for me to draw comparisons with other periods in U.S. history (as I'm only alive right now). But I find the United States to be a very creepy and very dangerous place, as its trajectory continues to run -- or to be pushed and shoved -- in the direction of an ever-more closed society, enforced by all kinds of institutional pressures. Including the case at hand.
Update (August 30): It appears to me that, to date, DePaul University's last-minute, August 24 cancellation of Norman Finkelstein's classes for the Fall Semester 2007 has been reported by but two major establishment print sources: An 857-word page-one article in the August 28 Chicago Tribune("DePaul pulls plug on controversial professor," Ron Gossman), and a 124-word blurb in the August 29 New York Times ("Illinois: New Blow to Critic of Israel") -- the latter merely a shortened version of the already short report that Associated Press placed in circulation on August 28.
I've been waiting for some source, somewhere, to chime-in on this. Like a Wall Street Journal editorial or op-ed -- even signed by Alan Dershowitz himself -- defending academic freedom, and using DePaul's firing of Norman Finkelstein as a case in point.
But so far -- nothing.
"Professor fired for controversial views," Editorial, The Pitt News, August 29, 2007
"Denial of tenure defended; DePaul chief upholds faculty panel's decision on controversial prof," Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun-Times, Sptember 1, 2007
"Denied tenure, DePaul professor planning protests," Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, September 2, 2007
"DePaul memos tell of run-ins with professor," Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, September 3, 2007
Update (September 6):
"Professor Finkelstein's DePaul Farewell" (Video), Labor Beat, September 5, 2007
"Embattled DePaul Prof Agrees to Resign," Don Babwin, Associated Press, September 5, 2007
"The Finkelstein Ultimatum," Editorial, Indiana Daily Student, September 5, 2007
"Professor's 'nightmare' with DePaul is over," Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun-Times, September 6, 2007
"Finkelstein deal ends DePaul tiff," Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, September 6, 2007
"Illinois: Resignation In Jewish Dispute," New York Times, September 6, 2007
"Finkelstein's Legacy at DePaul," Matthew Abraham, CounterPunch, September 8/9, 2007
Update (September 15): On yet another front closely connected to the purge of Norman Finkelstein from DePaul University:
"Erwin Chemerinsky and the Post-9/11 Attack on Academic Freedom," Marjorie Cohn, The Jurist, September 15, 2007
There are so many ways to defend the Homeland.