Had the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign not nixed Steven Salaita's appointment as professor of American Indian studies after his extended string of vituperative, vulgar Tweets, blog posts, and other communications exposed his anti-Semitism and radicalism to a broad audience, he would have likely remained an obscure academic. Today his legions of professorial supporters view him as a cause célèbre and alleged victim of the "Israel lobby" and rich alumni.
Salaita may not have presented himself as a victim of academe's alleged perfidy before Chancellor Phyllis Wise's action in August, but his fields of study assume the victimhood of indigenous peoples worldwide. Since world history is replete with conquests, intermarriage, assimilation, and the rise and fall of expansive empires, separating victims from victimizers through the millennia is a difficult process -- unless, that is, the purpose of one's academic work has less to do with the pursuit of truth than with achieving political goals through a quixotic, politicized reading of history.
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