Spying on Muslim Students

Candace de Russy responds to my post on profiling of Muslim student groups by calling me part of the “chorus of ostriches screeching” about the NYPD. De Russy claims, “it is discerning, not dumb, to face up to the obvious fact that the Internet is used by jihadis to spread their poison.” I have no doubt that the internet is used to spread poison and violence. (In fact, her post came right after a post on Phi Beta Cons endorsing physical violence against hecklers.) But spreading poisonous ideas (which no one has actually shown the Muslim Student Association has ever done) is far different from plotting terrorist attacks (which, again, no one has actually shown the MSA has ever done).

I don’t have any “stubborn refusal” to consider the Holy Land Foundation case invoked by de Russy. That case has nothing to do with actual terrorist activities. It was entirely about funding Palestinian charities that have links to Hamas. I find the entire prosecution highly dubious. But even if you believe the charges are true, they have nothing to do with possible threats of terrorism in New York City. And even if you believe that all Muslims are potential terrorists, looking on the websites of the Muslim Student Association for public announcements of future terrorism is incredibly stupid.

Malcolm Kline of Accuracy in Academia also criticizes me, but for reasons that go unspoken. In fact, none of my critics seem to respond to my critique that this is a stupid way to fight terrorism. Indeed, they seem so happy at the idea of targeting Muslims that the actual goal of stopping terrorism is unimportant.

CUA President John Garvey’s Misguided View of Religious Liberty

This essay by Peter N. Kirstein (a professor of history at St. Xavier University, Vice President of the Illinois Conference of the AAUP and is chair of the Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure) originally appeared on his blog.

By Peter N. Kirstein

John Garvey, president of censured Catholic University of America (CUA), a pontifical university that has a dismal record of aggressively promoting conformity to religious theological dogma over academic freedom, is protesting the government’s alleged encroachment on Catholic and religious institutions across the spectrum of American life. Beware of university presidents who believe truth is not subject to continuous skepticism and revisionism!

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A Crusade for Censorship at Harvard

On March 3-4, students at Harvard are organizing a “One State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One State Solution.” I don’t want to delve into the charges of bigotry that can be leveled by either side. My concern here is about freedom of speech.

On David Horowitz’s Frontpagemag, Steven Plaut harshly condemned the conference in over-the-top terms, calling it an “academic pogrom” and accusing speakers of “violent bigotry,” whatever that is.

I asked Plaut exactly what he thought Harvard officials should do about the conference, and this was his response: “I think they should deny use of campus facilities to the organizers. Campus facilities are not an entitlement. Let the organizers stand on the street corner and scream their hate. Harvard Square has lots of cafes where they can sit. Let the campus authorities deal with the organizers the same way they would have dealt with pro-Nazi ‘organizers’ on campus after Pearl Harbor.”

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The Danger of Courts Deciding Faculty Hiring

In the case of Teresa Wagner v. Carolyn Jones, a conservative candidate for a law professor job alleges political discrimination at the University of Iowa. Peter Wood writes, “We have seldom had so clear a case of a conservative academic being steamrolled by a politically correct faculty.” He’s right. This isn’t a very clear-cut case of political discrimination against conservatives, and yet it’s still one of the clearest you can find.

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Occupy Education

The following guest post is by Craig Vasey, professor of philosophy at the University of Mary Washington and a member of the AAUP’s national Council.

Yesterday I wrote about how faculty at relatively privileged institutions can feel we are operating in a bubble, insulated from the catastrophes befalling higher education, especially public higher education, in some states. But the deterioration of higher education in the US is accelerating. The fact that it’s not that bad here (yet) doesn’t mean we’re smart to disregard what is going on – what is coming down the road.  The future of higher education is being shaped by the corporatizing and privatizing trends of the past decades. In my state,Virginia—and in every state.

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Are You Working Inside a Bubble?

The following guest post is by Craig Vasey, professor of philosophy at the University of Mary Washington and a member of the AAUP’s national Council.

Signs of a coming disaster for American higher education are all around us. That’s why the AAUP Council, of which I am a member, endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement and why we, with many other groups, helped launch the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education.

But here at Mary Washington, my institution, the prevailing attitude seems to be that this is not about us. It’s just not anywhere near as bad here as the situation in California or at big public universities in other states.  We’re not “open enrollment.”  We’re not 75 percent adjunct-taught.  We’re a liberal arts institution.  We have a 75 percent six-year graduation rate. Our student body is largely the traditional-age middle-class residential student. We’re insulated on a beautiful campus, and most of us are tenured or tenure-track. Similar sentiments can be heard on other liberal-arts and private-college campuses.  I agree: there is something exceptional, something “privileged” about these institutions. That’s what I’m calling the “bubble.”   Continue reading

It’s Not Much Fun to Lose Your Name

The following guest post was authored by Cary Nelson, the president of the American Association of University Professors.

Will the day come when a successful student tells a prospective employer “I’m a graduate of Rutgers-Camden” and the employer answers “Never heard of the place?” That is the future New Jersey’s governor and some other state politicians apparently have in mind. Rutgers-Camden, a university with a distinguished faculty and a long history as part of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is tottering on the brink of losing its name and its international identity. A plan has been proposed by an appointed commission suggesting that Rutgers-Camden be broken away from Rutgers University and merged with Rowan University. Continue reading

The Censorship Monologues

It’s Valentine’s Day, and time once again for right-wing Catholic groups to denounce academic freedom at Catholic colleges. But it’s also time for them to celebrate a victory in making The Vagina Monologues the most-censored play in America.

The far-right Cardinal Newman Society reports that nine Catholic colleges will be presenting the play this year: “While it is disturbing that any Catholic college would host such filth and present it to their students under the guise of doing it for a good cause, there is some hopeful news in that the number has dropped to nine from a high of 32” in 2003.
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