Kudos to Andy Clavin! His behavior and tactics may have been reprehensible, but he has apologized, and hopefully, the furor concerning his secret taping, etc., will die down, and he will be able to resume his life as a "rising senior." However, the larger issue is whether diverse viewpoints are accepted at Stanford, and Clavin's original column deserves praise for bringing that issue to the forefront — against obvious faculty hostility. That courage bodes well for Clavin's chances of becoming a more mature, effective conservative.
Consider a microcosm of the left-right debate: the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its chief proponent on campus, Professor Joel Beinin. Are diverse points of view tolerated? Dr. Beinin may carry a Palestinian flag around, just as I may state that Palestinians and their supporters pose an existential threat to Israel, and that Palestinians do not deserve a state until they moderate their views.
However, specific concerns include Beinin's role in various Jewish studies programs (can someone dislike Beinin and still complete a Jewish studies major at Stanford?); the lack of an effective faculty counterweight to Beinin to support those students to whom Israel's existence is central in their lives; and the questions about the tenure process itself. Did Beinin use his activism to get tenure? Can someone be pro-Israel and still work at Columbia or Stanford? To be flip, how are the sausages made (never mind that I am kosher)?
More to the point, it continues to grate on me that the Middle East Studies Association, of which Beinin is a past president, tried to intervene on behalf of Professor Al-Arian in Tampa, the head of Islamic Jihad in the United States before his arrest last year. Further, it bothers me that many Islamic scholars, whose doctorates were written about the Mamelukes or Byzantines, focus their professional energies on the Arab-Israeli conflict, on which many have no real professorial credentials. Who organizes and pays for these professional activists?
Each question brings up more questions. Hopefully, these will be asked respectfully at the next faculty teach-in.
Daniel H. Jacobs, MD
Class of 1982