Just when one thought the New York Times realized that discounting the voices of students is contrary to their own journalistic standards and therefore wrong, the paper proves once again that it is willing to serve as a platform for puff-pieces in order to delegitimize the upheld claims of students at Columbia: today, on B4, please find a portrait of Professor Joseph Massad.
Substantiated charges of bullying are brushed away by the deft strokes of Robin Finn, who writes, "Who's intimidating whom here?" Certainly not Massad, who seems, "seems, if anything, ingratiating, not intimidating." Finn tells us how stylish he is: "His demibeard is neatly sculptured. His Continental accent is more soothing than strident. His elaborate freestanding Egyptian water pipe is stoked with apple-flavored tobacco as a weekend indulgence, accompanied by Cognac, after dinner parties."
Interesting--I thought that all bullies were mean, talked funny, and were bad dressers.
The more I read the piece, the more infuriating it is. He quotes Massad saying that he is "a pro-Jewish Palestinian critic of Zionism" without telling the readers that Massad thinks that Zionism is anti-Semitism, and so, therefore, to be anti-Zionist is to be pro-Jewish. But that is less important to me--it only indicates how the Times is trying to clear Massad's name with its Jewish readers.
What really upsets me is that Finn makes Massad into "a fan of free speech"--completely forgetting that Massad has been found to have shut down students who would challenge his hegemonic view of the violence in the Middle East. Some say that four people told the committee they don't remember anything--has that ever cleared any felon (I didn't see nuthin', I swear)? No. And the letter by Julia Galef in the Spectator way before this controversy had the potential to politicize memory makes clear that the claim of heckling itself is false. She wrote then,
I was in the class to which he refers--Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies--and witnessed first-hand his contempt for students who questioned his presentation of the facts. It should be cause for serious concern that Massad views legitimate questions raised in class as "interruptions" and "harassment" when they express a viewpoint divergent from his own.So is Massad a free speech nut? I don't think so, Julia Galef doesn't think so, and the very committee that was stacked in his favor doesn't think so. But the Times does. After the deal they struck with the Columbia administration, I'm not surprised.