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Norman Finkelstein Dumped by DePaul University

August 28, 2007
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Two years ago, DePaul University President Dennis Holtschneider held up Norman Finkelstein as an example of DePaul’s commitment to inquiry.  I guess that commitment to inquiry is now gone with Holtschneider seconding Dean Chuck Suchar’s motion in refusing Finkelstein’s tenure.

I’d have to say that I’m less than a fan when it comes to Finkelstein and have to throw myself into the group of skeptics and at some times critics but I find this all rather odd.  I have to admit that I do not know enough about seeking comments for tenure but I found it rather strange that DePaul would ask Alan Dershowitz one of his biggest critics to comment on Finkelstein’s application for tenure.  It seemed rather clear to me that those comments may be just a tad bit biased but Associated Press elaborates even further with:

“Finkelstein’s most recent book, “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,” is largely an attack on Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel.” In it, Finkelstein argues that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.

Dershowitz, who threatened to sue Finkelstein’s publisher for libel, urged DePaul officials to reject Finkelstein’s tenure bid in June.”

Further, Finkelstein’s standing room only class “Equality in Social Justice” allready had a syllabus, a room and the required reading was listed at the bookstore when DePaul cancelled the class and put Finkelstein on administrative leave, straying from the norms of acadamia which require that a Proffessor denied tenure has the right to a final year of teaching.  The American Association of University Proffessors which monitors such rights is on the case allready.

DePaul is not commenting in regards to the reasons for denying Finkelstein’s tenure.

Finkelstein though, according to the Chicago Tribune is not going to just accept any of this:

“I intend to go to my office on the first day of classes and, if my way is barred, to engage in civil disobedience,” Finkelstein, 53, said in a telephone interview. “If arrested, I’ll go on a hunger strike. If released, I’ll do it all over again. I’ll fast in jail for as long as it takes.”

Additionally, DePaul’s Academic Freedom Commitee (a student led organization) is planning a lecture rally Oct 12  featuring Akeel Bilgrami, Noam Chomsky, Tony Judt, John Mearsheimer, Neve Gordon, and Tariq Ali in support of Academic Freedom.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2007 12:32 am

    Oh great, and DePaul is my alma mater. I can’t believe they caved in to that kind of pressure. I don’t agree with everything Finkelstein says, but he makes some valid points and should not be censored or stifled.

    Ya Haqq!

  2. Paul permalink
    September 4, 2007 12:29 am

    He’s not being censored. He’s perfectly welcome to express any views he wants, but tenure is not an entitlement. It’s amazing how frequently the concept of free speech is confused. Free speech means that you’re free to express yourself without intimidation or threats. It doesn’t mean that you’re allowed tenure after making ad hominem attacks on Deborah Lipstadt, Elie Wiesel, and Holocaust survivors in general. He said if you go to New York one in three Jews will claim to be a survivor. Why should a university be compelled to associate with someone who sees fit to besmirch their name by publishing this nonsense? And likewise there can be no ban against them choosing to hire even David Irving if they saw fit. And in that case, I’d exercise my right to complain about it. You’d probably turn around and say it quashing free speech for me to express my opinion…and round and round we go!

  3. September 4, 2007 2:48 am

    Paul,

    Now, the two points that are being raised here is that they sought out Dershowitz to comment on Finkelstein’s tenure application and that Finkelstein is not being allowed to finish his year of teaching after being denied tenure – which by the way is his right.

    I’m not a fan of Finkelstein – I’ve allready stated that both in this post and maybe you would like to take a look at this post which does elaborate a little further: https://samaha.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/37/

    However, you mention that free speech means that you are to express yourself without intimidation or threats. Finkelstein’s being denied tenure – along with another colleague – is intimidation. It is intimidation towards all academics at DePaul.

    Free speech is free speech but that doesn’t mean freedom of consequences – that I can agree with – and I can understand if DePaul chose to deny him tenure for those reasons but what I can not agree with is the way in which DePaul has gone about this – who they chose to comment on his application and how they won’t allow him to finish his year.

    And .. sorry Paul .. but no – if you were to go and complain about David Irving .. I would not be saying that you are quashing free speech. I would say that you have every right to complain about it and I’d probably be complaining right along with you and I’m sure that the commentor that you responded to would be as well – wouldn’t you Irving😉

  4. October 28, 2008 8:17 am

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    I added this blog about that subject:
    at http://tinyurl.com/6p6lb8

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