Well, RK, it's always worse than you think. Turn your attention to Columbia University. In the carnival of leftist anti-Semitism now showing on college campuses, Columbia has long occupied the center ring--even as the public has only recently been made aware of its more brazen feats of derring-do. Campus Watch has compiled many of the news accounts and documents of this "poisoned ivy." One such document comes from Joseph Massad, a Columbia professor from the Department of Ethnic Cleansing. In his "Statement in Response to the Intimidation of Columbia University," written in the royal "we," Massad maintains that the criticism leveled against him by the documentary film Columbia Unbecoming is "propaganda . . . produced by a Boston-based pro-Israel organization" and part of a "witch hunt." All the while, Massad defends his behavior--whatever it might have been--through the catch-all rhetoric of the new academy: "pluralism, academic freedom, and the freedom of expression." This, from someone who has been accused of calling Jews "the new Nazis" and once demanded of a Jewish student: "How many Palestinians have you killed?" Professor Massad's defense from these allegations, by the way, belongs in a Waugh novel. He writes that one of his accusers, Noah, "seems not to have done his reading during the week on gender and Zionism. One of the assigned readings by Israeli scholar and feminist Simona Sharoni spoke of how in Hebrew the word 'zayin' means both penis and weapon in a discussion of Israeli militarized masculinity." Elsewhere in his strange document, Professor Massad maintains that:
The majority of Israel's supporters in the United States are, in fact, not Jews but Christian fundamentalist anti-Semites who seek to convert Jews. They constitute a quarter of the American electorate and are the most powerful anti-Semitic group worldwide. The reason why the pro-Israel groups do not fight them is because these anti-Semites are pro-Israel. Therefore, it is not anti-Semitism that offends pro-Israel groups; what offends them is anti-Israel criticism. In fact, Israel and the US groups supporting it have long received financial and political support from numerous anti-Semites.
Someone should tell Professor Massad that his copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is pastdue at Butler Library.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger, realizing that he had a large PR problem on his hands, called for an "ad hoc committee" to investigate the allegations of anti-Semitism on campus. The more optimistic among us might identify this act as one of contrition from the top. Here is part of the letter forwarded from Nick Dirks, Vice President for Arts and Sciences, to students by email:
I want to assure you that all conversations with the committee can be kept confidential if the student so desires. Additionally, no punitive action can be taken in retaliation against students who come before the committee. To do so would constitute a serious violation of University policy. All grievances brought to the attention of the committee will be treated with the utmost professionalism, impartiality, and respect.
The letter brought up interesting questions. Is it that "retaliation against students" is standard practice at Columbia? Are grievances at Columbia usually treated without "the utmost professionalism, impartiality, and respect"? Something about the language of Columbia's letter read like Pol Pot calling for a parent-teacher conference. And a group of Columbia students has come to agree.
So has Columbia become a hostile environment for Jews? Are show trials and kangaroo courts the answer to allegations of anti-Semitism? Well, how about the news that no one at Columbia seemed to think twice about inviting back another anti-Semite to campus . . .
For Tom Paulin, the invitation was already in the mail. Remember Paulin? In an interview in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram a few years ago, this poet was quoted as saying that "Brooklyn-born" Jewish settlers "should be shot dead. I think they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them." As for Israel, Mr. Paulin announced that he "never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all." We reported on Paulin in the May 2002 Notes & Comments. The Harvard English department went back and forth on whether to invite this rebarbative bard to speak at that University. Evidently, Amiri Baraka was already booked to speak at Yale that day.
Now Armavirumque has learned that Paulin is coming back to Columbia in order to lead off a seminar on Edmund Burke--certainly to attack this last redoubt of intellectual sobriety. Here is the notice we just received:
CONFERENCE ON EDMUND BURKE
The Heyman Center for the Humanities has approached some of our Seminars to set up conferences that would share their interests and their resources, particularly the hardest thing to find in New York, their audiences. The first result of this partnership will be a conference on Edmund Burke in the second-floor Common Room of the Heyman Centre, at the north end of the East Campus Residence Hall courtyard. The University Seminar on Political & Social Thought and the Heyman Centre enthusiastically invite their colleagues to join four of the world's experts in a discussion of a thinker whose penetration, seriousness, and eloquence remain exemplary after two centuries.
Thursday, February 10th
Tom Paulin, 10-12, "Burke's Prejudices"
David Bromwich, 1:30-3:30, "Burke in 1777"
Uday Mehta, 4-6, "The Geography of Compassion and Pity"
Brief Reception in the Common room
Friday, February 11th
Luke Gibbons, 9:45-11:45, "Long Distance Sympathy: Burke, Sympathy and the Sublime"
Now is that "prejudice" in the Burkean sense or prejudice in the modern sense, Mr. Paulin? Either way, you should feel right at home on the campus of Columbia University.