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Tufts Panel on the Mohammed Cartoons:

This story describes the panel, which was sponsored by three departments or centers in the school (the International Relations department, the Peace and Justice Studies department, and the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies) as well as three other groups. Oddly, as best I can tell, all five panelists seemed to be largely critical of the publication of the cartoons.

Do any of our readers know more about the panel? Was it more balanced than the story suggests? (Surely it wouldn't be the first time that a college newspaper, or any newspaper, failed to properly capture the spirit of an event.)

Seems to me that when an academic institution (as opposed to an advocacy group) participates in putting together a panel on a contested subject such as this one, it makes sense to include the cartoons' defenders as well as their critics. I wouldn't by any means impose such balance as a legal or even administrative requirement, and one can imagine situations where the balance is unnecessary: A panel on paleontology need not, for instance, have a Young Earther on it. But the cartoons controversy seems to be the sort of topic on which real debate would be helpful, and on which universities should try to provide real debate.

Jerry Greenhoot (mail):
Why the incredulity? The senior Administration at UNC Chapel Hill, NC hasn't decided yet whether a guy who claims he's a terrorist is actually a terrorist.

It's a rare University that actually believes and practices free inquiry and discussion of events in which they have a fixed position. The Tenured Left at every university has made it's position clear.
3.16.2006 3:41pm
DNL (mail):
As an otherwise proud Jumbo alum, it would surprise me greatly to find any sort of ideological balance in a panel put together by those three departments.
3.16.2006 4:03pm
Michael B (mail):
"Oddly, as best I can tell, all five panelists seemed to be largely critical of the publication of the cartoons."

Odd? Absolutely. Surprising? Hardly, much to the contrary.

"... all five panelists seemed to be largely critical of the publication of the cartoons."

"Seems to me that when an academic institution (as opposed to an advocacy group) ..."

Despite veneers, cosmetics, pretense, posturings and reactionary fits of dismissiveness (v. Larry Summers), all too often academic institutions are little or even nothing more than partisan/ideological advocacy groups. The veneer of vaunted academe, often enough, is little more than an ideological Sunday School, albeit one where the social/political dogmas, creeds and liturgies are fed via a casuistic and circuitous strainer (v. Edward Said) - to help render it palatable for the audience being targeted.
3.16.2006 4:43pm
Taimyoboi:
As someone who also spent some time as an undergrad at Tufts, I would second DNL's comment.

The Fares Center and the Peace and Justice Program are generally one-sided in their attitude towards the situation in the Middle East.

The International Relations Department has a fairly good balance, however, if anyone was supportive of the cartoons on the panel, I doubt the TuftsDaily would have quoted them. They're more uniform in their sentiments than either the Peace and Justice Dept or the Fares Center.

As an aside: I used to be an editor on the Primary Source, and I'm glad to see that they posted the cartoons in their publication. I'd be fairly shocked if any of the other campus publications did so.
3.16.2006 5:32pm
Taimyoboi:
On further reflection, I should qualify that by "fairly good balance", I meant that the International Relations Department had at least one conservative professor that I was aware of while I was there. I don't believe there are any conservative professors in the Peace and Justice studies department, or any other prominent ones in IR, but, not being a P&J or IR major, I can't be certain.
3.16.2006 5:37pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
As a Tufts alumnus, I can't say this comes as any kind of a shock. The faculty was, and continues to be in general , very leftist.
3.16.2006 5:48pm
Justin (mail):
I don't find the report of the panel to be particularly biased. I don't think Tufts is obligated to have someone on the panel what westerners think of political speech, or to engage in racial or religious bigotry. While it appears one or two of the panelists may have failed in informing, rather than simply opining, that is always a risk one takes when one tries to put together a panel designed to inform rather than to debate.
3.16.2006 6:42pm
Roger Sweeny (mail):
Justin,

I missed the part where Eugene called for the panel to include someone who would "engage in racial or religious bigotry." Could you point it out to me?

Or are you saying that anyone who supports the right of people to be offensive is guilty of "racial or religious bigotry?"
3.16.2006 7:01pm
Cornellian (mail):
The great thing about naming your department "Peace and Justice Studies" is that no one has to bother attending any of your classes or seminars. It's easy to guess exactly what your position will be on any given issue.
3.16.2006 8:27pm
Andy:
Yeah, just what is the syllabus of a Peace and Justice Studies department?

Actually, on second thought, I don't wanna know.
3.16.2006 8:35pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Eugene,

Not at all surprising to me. Immediately after 9/11 happened, then-Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead (now president of Duke) put together a panel of supposedly learned professors about why it had happened. Every single panelist said that 9/11 was retaliation for America's crimes. None of the prominent conservative faculty were even invited. I've stopped expecting real diversity of opinion on faculty panels. At this point it's an argument between the Marxists, the Rawlsians, and the Trotskyites, with the Rawlsians of course, representing the Right-wing of that discussion.
3.16.2006 9:44pm
Bezuhov (mail):
"Actually, on second thought, I don't wanna know."

Would that we did better understand where peace and justice come from, and that wishing doesn't make them so. Just because our current efforts are so ham-handed doesn't mean they are not valid fields of inquiry.

I will echo the sentiments here, however. On these particular questions, there is current little actual inquiry taking place, and much, er, "informing", as Justin puts it. That's one thing to call it.
3.17.2006 12:06pm