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61 Columbia Professors Dissent

from the 70 Columbia Professors' statement criticizing Lee Bollinger; here's the 61 professors' statement:

Statement of Dissent From CU-FAC Statement

A group of faculty members in the Arts and Sciences has been circulating for signature a "statement of concern" to be presented to the Arts and Sciences Faculty meeting on November 13. The main accusation in the statement is that the university administration has failed to make a vigorous defense of academic freedom. Four specific issues are singled out. One of these relates to budgetary and enrollment decisions pertaining to the Arts and Sciences, about which which most of us have no business rendering judgment. The remaining three, however, deal with academic affairs relevant to the university as a whole:

1. That the administration has failed to make clear that interventions by outside groups "will not be tolerated": We agree that tenure reviews must be conducted exclusively by peer academics within the university and at other academic institutions. However, the university has responsibilities to its students, alumni, donors, and outside community. When nonacademics and outsiders encounter or hear about what they consider inappropriate forms of teaching, allegations of intimidation or harassment, or the distortion of basic historical or scientific facts, they are justified in expressing, and entitled by the First Amendment to express, their objections. No university administration has the power to prevent such expression.

2. That President Bollinger's introductory remarks to Ahmadinejad "allied the university with the Bush administration's war in Iraq": As the publicly available transcript confirms, these remarks addressed sequentially: 1) Holocaust denial; 2) Ahmadinejad's stated intent to destroy Israel; 3) Iran's funding of terrorism; 4) Iran's proxy war against US troops in Iraq; and 5) Iran's nuclear program. Only the fourth item refers to the war in Iraq, and only in the context of Iran's role in financing and arming terrorist attacks against our troops.

3. That "the President has publicly taken partisan political positions concerning the politics of the Middle East, without apparent expertise in this area or consultation with faculty who teach and undertake research in this area" : We follow President Bollinger's public statements closely. The only one that may be characterized as concerning the politics of the Middle East is his denunciation of the British University and College Union's proposed boycott of Israeli academics, which he described as "antithetical to the fundamental values of the academy." This statement is actually not about the political problems of the Middle East; it is precisely what President Bollinger is accused of not providing: a vigorous defense of academic freedom, based on his recognition that denying such freedom to any individual or group endangers the entire academic enterprise.

We the undersigned therefore dissent from the CU-FAC statement.

Efrat Aharonovich / Kenneth Altman / Elizabeth Anisfeld / Paul S. Appelbaum / Marc S. Arkovitz / Jeffrey A. Ascherman / Mitchell C. Benson / Mitchell F. Berman / Bernard Berofsky / Nehama R. Bersohn / Joan Birman / Adam Heath Cannon / Charles Calomiris / Mark Cane / Myron L. Cohen / Jonathan David / Len Druyan / Barry A. Farber / Awi Federgruen / Scott A. Fink / Philip Genty / Michael D. Gershon / Michael E. Goldberg / Robert R. Goodman / Victor R. Grann / Linda Granowetter / Jonathan L. Gross / Jeffrey Helzner / Ralph Holloway / Barry Honig / Allen I. Hyman / Judith S. Jacobson / Sandra Kahn / Eric R. Kandel / Ran Kivetz / Oscar Lebwohl / Jonathan Levav / Moshe Levison / Nahum Melumad / Elizabeth Midlarsky / Abraham Monk / Alfred I. Neugut / Walter Neumann / Peter Ozsvath / Evan Picoult / Ruth Raphaeli-Slivko / Irina Reyfman / Jay Rothschild / Samuel Schacher / Alan F. Segal / Alan A. Seplowitz / Neil S. Shachter / Howard Shuman / Ethel S. Siris / Mervyn W. Susser / Robert N. Taub / Olivier Toubia / Warren D. Widmann / Eric D. Zarahn / Assaf Zeevi / Thomas D. Zweifel [EV: line breaks between signatures replaced with slashes]

Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
That President Bollinger's introductory remarks to Ahmadinejad “allied the university with the Bush administration’s war in Iraq”: As the publicly available transcript confirms, these remarks addressed sequentially: 1) Holocaust denial; 2) Ahmadinejad's stated intent to destroy Israel; 3) Iran's funding of terrorism; 4) Iran's proxy war against US troops in Iraq; and 5) Iran's nuclear program. Only the fourth item refers to the war in Iraq, and only in the context of Iran's role in financing and arming terrorist attacks against our troops.


I think we can safely conclude then that by opposing the substance of Bollinger’s criticism of Iran’s role in financing terrorist attacks against American troops in Iraq, the 70 signators of the previous petition have allied themselves with Ahmadinejad’s war against the United States.
11.19.2007 2:31pm
Hoosier:
It woulod be hard to dismiss these scholars as a bunch of right-wing Ditto-heads. Given the names on the list, however, I can see the "Zionist" accusation coming from the ususal dark, dingy (both pronunciations) corners.
11.19.2007 2:31pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Good for them. I hope they're prepared for a display of Howler-monkey-level outrage.
11.19.2007 2:33pm
Le Messurier (mail):
It is good to see (finally) some faculty talking back to the nuts. This contrasts with the faculty at (for instance) Duke, who for the most part remained silent in the face of the group of 88. It would be a very healthy thing for our rather ill "academy" if there were genuine discussions instead of the one sided rants we so often see.
11.19.2007 2:41pm
A.C.:
Hoosier - I noticed the name thing too, but this emphatically non-Jewish person agrees with them. It's a shame if Jewish people are the only ones talking sense in American universities. Let's hope the rest of the Columbia faculty takes a stand against the people doing the howler monkey imitations.

Although I suppose any white Christian who did so would get the "fundamentalist" slur instead of the "Zionist" one. Any Buddhists or Animists out there willing to carry the flag?
11.19.2007 2:50pm
Crunchy Frog:
Le Messurier beat me to it wrt Duke. It's nice to know that somehere in the Ivy there's a subset of academia with the rare combination of backbone and good sense.
11.19.2007 2:51pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Plenty of Arab/Iranian names on the first letter.
11.19.2007 2:53pm
Hoosier:
A.C.--This is why I put in for the position of "Reporting Member" when our little group of faculty here wrote an "open letter" on the issue of boycotting Israeli universities. My name is nice and Irish. So no "Joo-baiting" possible.

And if one assumes Roman Catholicism when one sees an Irish surname, then that whole "Fundamentalist-waiting-for-the-Apocalypse-in-Israel" slur also doesn't wash. The Vatican hasn't worried much about the Second Coming since AD 1000. When, despite concerns, nothing happened.
11.19.2007 3:07pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
A.C. "It's a shame if Jewish people are the only ones talking sense in American universities."

A shame, yes, but it wouldn't be the first time would it?

And as someone else mentioned, the names on the other petition do appear to lean (if not as heavily) toward typically muslim ethnicities. Might be nothing, but that juxtaposition combined with the prevalence of identity politics on campus makes me think of Lebanon, and not in a good way.
11.19.2007 3:18pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Good for these guys.
Think it will put some spine into their brethren and sistern on other campuses?
11.19.2007 3:18pm
Bottomfish (mail):
I suppose Bollinger has his academic freedom and free speech rights too, even if this means offending Mahmoud.
11.19.2007 3:31pm
Drake (mail) (www):
This is a sensible statement, but if I understand EV, he was making a far stronger claim than these signatories are, viz., that there was nothing even arguably objectionable about the manner in which Bollinger "introduced" Ahmadinejad.

To my way of thinking, there's something of a contradiction in inviting a speaker putatively in the spirit of a "great tradition of openness," only to precede that invitee's talk with a resounding condemnation of the invitee. So while I'd agree the original 70 didn't narrow the grounds of their protest enough, I think EV's counterclaim is nearly as overbroad.
11.19.2007 3:49pm
PLR:

As the publicly available transcript confirms, these remarks addressed sequentially: 1) Holocaust denial (as to which there are conflicting statements); 2) Ahmadinejad's stated intent to destroy Israel (which did not refer to military action and were not even his own words); 3) Iran's funding of terrorism; 4) Iran's proxy war against US troops in Iraq (as to which little to no evidence has been provided); and 5) Iran's nuclear program (such as it is in 2007).

Duly noted.
Given the names on the list, however, I can see the "Zionist" accusation coming from the ususal dark, dingy (both pronunciations) corners.

I didn't pick the names. Are the names less evidence of Zionists at the university gates?
11.19.2007 3:58pm
MDJD2B (mail):
I Googled 8 of these faculty, picking mostly nmaes that did not sound Jewish to me. I found several physicians, a finance professor and only one member of the Arts and Sciences faculty-- a mathmetician. I recognized 2 names from the Clinical Psych faculty at Teachers College-- one was the woman on whose door a swastika was recently painted.

Humanities professors are scarce on this list of signatories, in contradistinction to the other one.
11.19.2007 4:03pm
Blithering Idiot (mail) (www):
Hoosier writes:


Given the names on the list, however, I can see the "Zionist" accusation...

I think the modern term is "Neo-Con."

BTW, this was my favorite part of the statement:

"...our troops." at the bottom of ¶2.

I love the unity and I'm sure our troops would refer to this group of 61 dissenters as "...our professors."
11.19.2007 4:05pm
MDJD2B (mail):
Oh, and Eric Kandel is a Nobel laureate in Medicine.
11.19.2007 4:14pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Perhaps something good will actually come from the Duke fiasco.
11.19.2007 4:18pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
As mentioned in the discussion of the related post, Columbia has 3,392 full-time faculty.

That makes:
70 whiny self-righteous radicals,
61 decent people,
and
3261 cowardly pussies.
11.19.2007 4:26pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
MDJD2B wrote:
Humanities professors are scarce on this list of signatories, in contradistinction to the other one.
The signatories to the original petition were from the humanities and social sciences. And while I don't recognize most of the names on this list, I did see several from humanties and social science departments along with professors from law, engineering, business and medicine. The former include Bernard Berofsky (Philosophy), Nehama R. Bersohn (Middle East &Asian Languages &Cultures), Myron Cohen (Anthropology), Ralph Holloway (Anthropology), Ruth Raphaeli-Slivko (Middle East &Asian Languages &Cultures), Irina Reyfman (Slavic Languages), and Alan Segal (Religion).
11.19.2007 4:36pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Ralph Phelan:

Are you saying that the only "decent people" are the ones who agree with you -- and who do so publicly?
11.19.2007 4:39pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
PLR alleges: '2) Ahmadinejad's stated intent to destroy Israel (which did not refer to military action and were not even his own words)'

This is incorrect. The words are his, and, more to the point, have been used for decades by his party.

I am saddened to see the names, because it looks as if most of the names on both lists are likely people who have an interest -- a bias, even -- on the issue of Israel. (I do, too, I'm against seeing it destroyed.)

Neither statement sounds like a ringing endorsement of academic (or even ordinary civic) freedom but more like the complaints of interested parties.

This may be unfair to a few of the signatories.

But where, in a faculty of 3,392 are people who give enough of a damn about free discourse to speak up, even if they don't have a particular ax to grind?

Columbia is looking worse and worse.
11.19.2007 4:43pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Harry Eagar wrote:
But where, in a faculty of 3,392 are people who give enough of a damn about free discourse to speak up, even if they don't have a particular ax to grind?
This question presumes that signing one of these petitions is the only way for a Columbia professor to express his or her views on the suject, which is far from the truth. Besides, there are surely many professors who agree generally with one side or the other but who disagree too much with what the petitions say to add their names.
11.19.2007 4:46pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Ralph Phelan:

Are you saying that the only "decent people" are the ones who agree with you -- and who do so publicly?


Depends on what they're agreeing with me about.
If it's about whether Clinton or Giuliani would make a better president, no big deal.
If they disagree with me about whether it's right to kill people for being gay (I'm opposed) or to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on Israel (I'm opposed) or to fund and assist people in randomly bombing unarmed civilians at bus stations and markets in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon (I'm opposed) then yes, I think it's more than a minor difference in judgement, it relates to basic human decency.

I do not consider murderous fascists decent people.
I do not consider their fans decent people.
I do not consider those unwilling to go on record as opposing murderous evil in their midst decent people.
11.19.2007 4:54pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Ralph Phelan wrote:
I do not consider those unwilling to go on record as opposing murderous evil in their midst decent people.
But you seem to equate not being on record with being unwilling to go on record. I agree with you that "murderous fascists" are not decent people, but I don't recall ever having aprior occasion to write something to that effect. By your logic I am not yet a decent person as I type this, but I will become one after I click "post comment". That doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

More to the point, you seem to equate not signing the counter-statement with being a "fan" of "murderous fascists". That is a very unreasonable stance.
11.19.2007 5:05pm
Hoosier:
PLR: "I didn't pick the names. Are the names less evidence of Zionists at the university gates?"

Sorry, I'm not sure what your question is asking. Could you clarify? Thanks.
11.19.2007 5:17pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
...3261 cowardly pussies...

Needlessly crude name calling aside, I wonder how many of those people simply believe they are employees of the University, Bollinger is their boss, and that its simply not their place to publicly debate his performance. Clearly they have the right, but maybe they believe it inappropriate.

I believe that academia generally suffers an overweening sense of entitlement when it comes to hectoring everyone in different pay-grades about what to think and do, but I hope some of the 3261 remained silent because they are not lunch room gossips.
11.19.2007 5:45pm
snelson (mail):
Mr. Hoffman, are you familiar with the old expression, "silence implies assent"? Think about it.
11.19.2007 5:51pm
NY:
I applaud the signers for speaking up, but it is quite disheartening to see fewer names on this letter than on the anti-Bollinger one, especially when most names here are clearly Jewish or Israeli.

Where are the rest of Columbia's staff? This is not unlike the demonstrations during the visit itself, when it seemed protesting the fundamentalist Irani regime is a "Jewish thing", rather than an issue of human rights.
11.19.2007 6:18pm
PersonFromPorlock:

Mr. Hoffman, are you familiar with the old expression, "silence implies assent"? Think about it.

Or possibly that someone hadn't heard, or was on vacation or was busy or could only buy half the argument or just didn't think the issue was worth commenting on. In other words, the fact that you infer consent doesn't mean it's there.

Really, an implication from an inference is kinda like an emanation from a penumbra, when you think about it.
11.19.2007 6:34pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
snelson wrote:
Mr. Hoffman, are you familiar with the old expression, "silence implies assent"? Think about it.
I'm familiar with it, but I don't agree with it. It's really just a slogan which offers no useful guidance. If you think it's meaningful, perhaps you can explain how it applies here -- when there are two competing statements gathering signatures, which one does silence "imply assent" to?

If silence implies assent to any position it would seem to be the one that says Bollinger is doing his job well; after all, he has been in office for more than five years and hardly any faculty spoke out against him during that time. By that logic only the signatories of the original statement could be presumed to agree with its content while the 3,000-plus who have signed neither petition would have presumptively sided against them.

Since you evidently believe silence implies the opposite position, I hope you can explain why.
11.19.2007 6:56pm
Andrew Paterson (mail):
Attending both Malcom X and George Lincoln Rockwell speeches at Michigan in the 60's (as well as the whole sit in Vietnam events)was free speech at its best. The reactions of classmates, the discussions, the arguments - that was what free speech and academic freedom epitomized for this ernest undergrad. Bollinger's predecessor (at the time) would not have considered intervening or, my god, giving a rant (deserved or not)introduction. Seeing this unfold today has left me with two distinct impressions: thank god Columbia has him, and two, what the hell has happened to academic freedom in this obnoxiously politically correct are?
11.19.2007 8:47pm
Math_Mage (mail):
"As the publicly available transcript confirms, these remarks addressed sequentially: 1) Holocaust denial (as to which there are conflicting statements); 2) Ahmadinejad's stated intent to destroy Israel (which did not refer to military action and were not even his own words); 3) Iran's funding of terrorism; 4) Iran's proxy war against US troops in Iraq (as to which little to no evidence has been provided); and 5) Iran's nuclear program (such as it is in 2007)."

1 and 2 are matters of translation, so I won't get into them...but I WILL note that even the relatively benign interpretation of the "wipe Israel off the map" sentiment as "regime change" implies SOME sort of action.
3, you have no comment, so I'll ignore it too.
4, when everyday soldiers are breathing sighs of relief because they're not finding any more of the type of IEDs sent from Iran, one can assume that Iran is getting mixed up in Iraq.
5, yes, such as it is in 2007 - that is, a serious problem that needs to be dealt with.
11.19.2007 8:53pm
The Cabbage:
I hope the trend of signed statements dies with the Baby Boomers.

the original Port Huron Statement, not the compromised second draft
11.19.2007 10:17pm
anym_avey (mail):
Mr. Hoffman, are you familiar with the old expression, "silence implies assent"? Think about it.

I hereby declare Thursday, November 22, 2007 to be "Anym Avey Day", recognition of which will replace all previous declared holiday desigation(s) in the United States. Until you speak up in opposition to my shenaningans, I'll presume your assent.

If that latter of those two statements seems as silly as the first, consider why, and then save the bombastic rhetoric for more suitable ocassions. Otherwise, I've got more like this, and we'll see who runs out of willpower first. Just like when we were both ten! Sound good?
11.19.2007 11:50pm
JoshL (mail):

The signatories to the original petition were from the humanities and social sciences. And while I don't recognize most of the names on this list, I did see several from humanties and social science departments along with professors from law, engineering, business and medicine. The former include Bernard Berofsky (Philosophy), Nehama R. Bersohn (Middle East &Asian Languages &Cultures), Myron Cohen (Anthropology), Ralph Holloway (Anthropology), Ruth Raphaeli-Slivko (Middle East &Asian Languages &Cultures), Irina Reyfman (Slavic Languages), and Alan Segal (Religion).


Indeed. I also suspect that neither of these letters was circulated in an exceptionally proactive manner, or else we'd see more signatures on both lists. The one missing name that stuck out in my mind, though he's technically emeritus (but still chair of Center for the Study of Human Rights) and is in the law school is Professor Louis Henkin.
11.20.2007 6:54am
Hoosier:
anym--No WAY, dude!

I call shenaningans!
11.20.2007 7:58am