The subjects of Race and Gender rule the roost, and Diversity-Equity-Inclusion is the incessant mantra of this debased age. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
There is a lot to be said about American academic life today, very little of it good, save in the hard sciences. The subjects of Race and Gender rule the roost, and Diversity-Equity-Inclusion is the incessant mantra of this debased age. BDS is all the rage on campuses, where those who rant against the "colonial-settler" state of Israel, and denounce that monstrous state's "apartheid regime," receive the enthusiastic backing of both students and their fellow-traveling leftward professoriate, with many of them, faculty and students, so keen to think what one another thinks. You can call for the destruction of the state of Israel, exclaim on Twitter "God I love watching you Zionist dirtbags get ratio'd left and right," and still be thought fit to teach "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," as Kylie Broderick is now doing at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Many supporters of the Palestinians and of the Islamic Republic of Iran have managed to find tenured posts at American universities, where they make sure to hire only those who agree with them (no one favorable to Israel, or insufficiently enthusiastic about Islam, need apply), where they can comfortably wage guerrilla war, in the seminar room and from the lectern, on the Jewish state. Rashid Khalidi, Rabab Abdulhadi, Hamid Dabashi, and hundreds more all over the academic archipelago are contentedly molding the minds of the impressionable young, protected by tenure and a misapplication of the First Amendment free speech right to private institutions, which includes most universities.
Now Oberlin turns out to have been harboring for decades as a professor one Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, an Iranian-American who in 1988 was Iran's representative at the U.N., where he continually denied, to the media, and to the U.N. General Assembly itself, that there were any mass killings of dissidents in Iran. A report on his staggering prevarications is here: "Iran's 'Butcher of Oberlin': Outrage at college for whitewashing prof," by Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2021:
Iranian-Americans slammed Oberlin College for whitewashing the alleged "crimes against humanity" carried out by the college's religion professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati during a 1988 massacre of innocent Iranian political prisoners.
Amnesty International declared in its 2018 report – which examined Mahallati's role as the former Iranian regime ambassador to the UN at the time of the 1988 mass murder – that he was "actively involved in denying the mass killings in media interviews and exchanges with the UN to shield those responsible from accountability."
Amnesty implicated Mahallati in covering up the mass executions of at least 5,000 Iranians.
Leading human rights experts and international jurists have concurred with Amnesty's findings. Despite what Iran human rights experts and Amnesty say is overwhelming evidence against Mahallati, Oberlin College cleared the professor of the accusations against him.
Oberlin College Director of Media Relations Scott Wargo told the Chronicle-Telegram last week that "Oberlin deeply empathizes with the pain and suffering caused by the executions in Iran. After becoming aware of the allegations against Prof. Mahallati, Oberlin initiated its own process to determine their validity. After consulting a number of sources, and evaluating the public record, the college could find no evidence to corroborate the allegations against Prof. Mahallati, including that he had specific knowledge of the murders taking place in Iran....
Oberlin could find "no evidence" that Prof. Mahallati had lied about the mass killings in 1988? When everyone in Iran knew about them? Was he alone, sitting at the U.N., not made privy to what was public knowledge? Of course he told the Oberlin investigators that he had never known about those killings, and when he had denied at the U.N. that they had taken place, he had in good faith replied with what he thought was the truth. He might be guilty of being too trusting in his own government, but not of a deliberate attempt to deceive anyone. Not he, not the "Professor of Peace." And the Oberlin administrators bought that fable.
Scott Wargo, Oberlin's Director of Media Relations, said the college had consulted a "number of sources." But why didn't it consult the most obvious and valuable source of all – the relatives of those who were killed by the Iranian regime, to find out from them who knew about those killings at the time? They were eager to tell their own stories, but for some reason the Oberlin investigators never got around to consulting them.
The authors stated that "no report was published of any such investigation," and the college has not been "transparent."
Why has Oberlin not published the full report on its investigation, giving details as to whom the investigators questioned, and what their responses — verbatim — had been, rather than offer a laconic announcement that after investigation, the college had concluded that there was "no evidence" of Prof. Mahallati having knowledge of the killings?
"In light of the claims of Oberlin College that they found 'no evidence of wrongdoing,' we call on (college) President [Carmen Twillie] Ambar to allow an international delegation to conduct a fact-finding mission and probe into the 1988 massacre and the role of Mahallati in it," Bazargan told The Jerusalem Post....
Bazargan, whose brother was one of those murdered in the 1988 massacre of 5,000 political prisoners, wants Oberlin to now entrust to outsiders a new investigation of Prof. Mahallati, an international delegation that presumably would be more experienced and well-versed than the Oberlin college investigators in how totalitarian regimes try to hide or deny their atrocities.
Above all, such investigators must not be shills for the Oberlin administrators.
Why did Oberlin at once circle the wagons, and try to downplay the investigation? If we believe the relatives of those killed, who have the greatest stake in the truth coming out, Oberlin tried – in the end unsuccessfully — to prevent the story from being covered by the media, fearing that it would harm Oberlin's image if it became known that someone on the senior faculty had once been a diplomatic defender of the "butchers of Tehran."
Let's see. A long news item appeared in the New York Times in November 1988. It described what the UN's Special Rapporteur on Iran presented to the U.N. General Assembly, that is, information about a "wave of political executions" in Iran the previous summer. Are we expected to believe that Iran's U.N. representative, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, had not been listening that day when the subject of mass executions in Iran were brought up by Galindo Pohl? Wasn't that enough to inform him about the "executions" he now claims he never had any knowledge of, which is why he claims to have believed he was telling the truth when he denied they took place? And it's not only Galindo Pohl's report accusing Iran of mass executions that he claims he never heard, but also the coverage of that report in the New York Times, that he wants us to believe he never saw. How plausible is it that someone living, and working, in Manhattan as a U.N. diplomat, could have missed the report, delivered to the U.N. General Assembly, and also failed to see the Times story about it?