The fearless Charles Jacobs of the David Project and the American Anti-Slavery Group skewers Columbia’s dhimmitude in the Columbia Spectator (thanks to Ted Robertson):
The Dirks Committee, created by Columbia’s administration to investigate student complaints of harassment by anti-Israel faculty, was supposed to spread sand on the MEALAC fire. Instead it threw gasoline. On Friday, The New York Times explained that Columbia “botched” the job by stacking the committee with colleagues of the accused and anti-Israel partisans. No one should have been surprised that a biased committee produced a biased report that ignored the facts and protected its own.
The report is deeply flawed. It considered only three incidents of professors’ harassing students, yet we know of many, many more. It invokes a sort of “professors’ omerta” to intimidate dissenting professors, upbraiding whistleblowers who helped students report abuse. The committee turns the tables on the complaining students, giving weight–without any proof–to claims by MEALAC professors that pro-Israel “outsiders” invade classrooms to hector them. Professor Joseph Massad’s colleagues judged him guilty of inappropriate conduct, but chide him so gently–“his rhetorical response to her query exceeded commonly accepted bounds”Â–that his wrist may not register the slap. At the same time, the committee carefully avoided mentioning the racist screed of Professor Hamid Dabashi, who writes in Al-Ahram that Israelis suffer from “a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture.”
Yes, the report admits the administration was insensitive, even antagonistic to students who complained that anti-Israel professors harassed them. And yes, it found that students have no effective way to register complaints. But the committee reduced what is a major academic scandal–the use of podium as pulpit for an exclusive viewpoint–to only these narrow bureaucratic foul-ups.
The Dirks Committee simply evades the main issue: how to deal with the teaching of lies and propaganda by Arabist professors who so demonize Israel that defenders of the Jewish state find themselves in a hostile environment in their classes. It achieves this evasion by referring to incidents of biased, dishonest teaching in exclusively pedagogical and psychological terms. It classes them as “rhetorically combative” methods or as expressions of “uncongenial views” that–and the issue is reduced to this–make some students “uncomfortable.”
This straw man, constructed in MEALAC and echoed by the committee–all for the purpose of dressing political acts in psychological clothes–is now endlessly rehearsed by all those who, fooled by this deception, needlessly feel compelled to make the obvious point: that at least some ideas one encounters in a college education should make people unsettled.
What the committee refused to consider is the possibility that these “teachings” are lies and propaganda. When Professor Massad teaches that the word “Zion” means “penis,” and therefore Zionism is a macho movement, this is not an uncongenial view, but a lie–or at best an egregious error for a Middle East studies professor. When at Columbia it is taught that the Israelis are Nazis and the Palestinians are the new Jews, and that the Jews slaughtered Arabs in Jenin, these are not “rhetorically combative” modes of teaching–they are blood libels, anti-Semitic provocations, deceptions, and Arabist propaganda. Will only brave Jewish students stand up and say so? Does academic freedom” give professors license to teach incendiary, hateful lies?
Read it all.