[Marxism] Fwd: Academic Freedom Under Attack at UCSB!

Noah Zweig noah at noahz.org
Mon Apr 20 00:28:38 MDT 2009


Begin forwarded message:

> From: Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB  
> <CDAF.UCSB at gmail.com>
> Date: April 19, 2009 11:24:02 PM PDT
> To: cdaf-ucsb at googlegroups.com
> Subject: Academic Freedom Under Attack at UCSB!
> Reply-To: CDAF-UCSB at googlegroups.com
>
> PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
>
> Dear colleagues,
>
> UCSB has become the latest front in the war against Academic Freedom.
>
> Professor William I. Robinson, a Sociology and Global Studies  
> professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been  
> attacked by the Anti-Defamation League and two of his former  
> students.  In January of this year, he forwarded an email  
> condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza.  The email contained an  
> editorial by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel's actions in  
> Gaza as well as juxtaposed images of Nazi atrocities with congruent  
> images of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians.  The email was  
> an optional read for students, intended to spark conversation by  
> relating contemporary events to conceptual ideas discussed in class.
>
> One week later, the ADL wrote him a letter charging him with anti- 
> Semitism and sundry violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct (none  
> of which were coherent claims).  Another week passed, and the  
> Academic Senate Charges Officer then notified him that two of the  
> students in the class to which he circulated the email had filed  
> complaints against him.
>
> The complaints are that 1) critique of Israel is evidence of anti- 
> Semitism and 2) the Israeli-Palestinian issue should not be  
> discussed in a class on Globalization.
>
> This case has already escalated way too far. Throughout the  
> process, the Charges Officer violated several elements of the  
> charges procedure, shirked his responsibilities, and ultimately  
> acted as a co-complainant by fabricating charges that were not  
> raised by the students.  The charges have reached the Committee on  
> Committees, which is now in the process of convening an ad hoc  
> Charges Committee to assess the complaints against Professor Robinson.
>
> Based on patently absurd and malicious claims, the charges should  
> have been dismissed out of hand from the beginning.  Further  
> consideration of the charges by the Academic Senate serves only to  
> sanction politically-motivated attacks on academic freedom. The  
> longer this case is pursued, the worse its chilling effect; it will  
> spread fear among those who wish to present controversial and  
> critical subjects. Even though the original complaint is regarding  
> Israel/Palestine, the rights at stake extend beyond this specific  
> topic.  Academic freedom is a right that enables scholars to  
> express diverse perspectives over contentious topics, free from the  
> intimidation of political repression campaigns.  If the case  
> against Professor Robinson continues to go forward, it will lead  
> down a slippery slope that may expose academics to repression  
> tactics for addressing controversial issues such as stem cell  
> research, evolution, feminism, LGBT rights, etc.  It is incumbent  
> upon members of the UCSB campus and the broader academy to roundly  
> oppose this silencing campaign.
>
> This is an obvious attack on Professor Robinson’s academic  
> freedom, one that ominously recalls similar campaigns against other  
> critics of Israel across the nation.  This is part of a broader  
> campaign to automatically vilify and attack any and all critiques  
> of Israel’s policies and practices through unfounded use of the  
> term “anti-Semitic.” A critique of the Israeli state, its  
> policies, and the leaders responsible is not and should not be  
> considered an affront to Jewish people as a collective, the Jewish  
> religion, or Jewish heritage. In fact, conflating the state of  
> Israel with the Jewish people essentializes the assorted political  
> opinions of a diverse religious group by reducing them to the set  
> of policies espoused by the prevailing regime.
>
> We need your help!  Please scroll below and follow the instructions  
> to 1) email the UCSB Chancellor and responsible authorities on  
> campus to express your outrage and register your protest, and 2)  
> sign the petition.
>
> Please visit our website for more information on the case,  
> including continuing updates, at: http://sb4af.wordpress.com.
>
> If you wish to contact the student campaign, please email:  
> cdaf.ucsb at gmail.com.
>
> Thank you for your time,
> Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UC Santa Barbara
>
> ***
>
> Send an Email:
> The e-mail should be addressed to UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and  
> cc’d to the following faculty and administrators involved in the  
> case. Please copy and paste the addresses.
>
> To: henry.yang at chancellor.ucsb.edu
>
> CC: mgscharl at math.ucsb.edu, gene.lucas at evc.ucsb.edu,  
> moliver at ltsc.ucsb.edu, mazer at lifesci.ucsb.edu, joel at geog.ucsb.edu,  
> joel.michaelsen at senate.ucsb.edu, sarah at isber.ucsb.edu,  
> butler at chem.ucsb.edu, scott at theaterdance.ucsb.edu,  
> hcallus at music.ucsb.edu, gaulin at anth.ucsb.edu, spieker at gss.ucsb.edu,  
> stemmer at mrl.ucsb.edu, caselle at lifesci.ucsb.edu,  
> goulias at geog.ucsb.edu, amar at lawso.ucsb.edu,  
> Stephanie.smagala at senate.ucsb.edu, ettenberg at psych.ucsb.edu,  
> hualee at ece.ucsb.edu, mithun at linguistics.ucsb.edu,  
> zok at engineering.ucsb.edu, helen.henry at ucr.edu, cdaf.ucsb at gmail.com
>
> To Whom It May Concern,
>
> I am a dismayed [undergraduate/graduate/alumna/faculty member] at  
> [your university] writing you to express support for Sociology and  
> Global Studies Professor William I. Robinson.  As you may know,  
> Professor Robinson and academic freedom have come under recent  
> attack on the UCSB campus.  Toward the end of February 2009,  
> Professor Robinson received notice from the Academic Senate’s  
> Charges Committee that two of his students had filed charges  
> against him.  The students alleged that an email forward he’d  
> circulated to his class, criticizing Israel’s then-ongoing siege  
> on Gaza, comprised anti-Semitism.  These charges are patently  
> absurd and should be dismissed out of hand before further damage is  
> done to the university’s purpose and reputation.
>
> I demand the immediate dismissal of all of the charges against  
> Professor Robinson as frivolous, unfounded, and malicious.  Any  
> further consideration of these baseless attacks is unacceptable.  I  
> join other students and faculty in pledging that we will not accept  
> any resolution of this matter that is unfavorable to Professor  
> Robinson and academic freedom.
>
> I also insist that the attack on Professor Robinson’s academic  
> freedom, one that ominously recalls similar campaigns against other  
> critical academics across the nation, be publicly condemned.  This  
> condemnation is essential to preserve full and fair discussion  
> within the most important of the U.S.’s civic institutions.  Any  
> genuine consideration of these absurd attacks will have a severe  
> chilling effect on the production and dissemination of scholarly  
> research in all disciplines.  Further, the attacks must be  
> condemned to protect faculty and students from wasting valuable  
> time and energy defending themselves against frivolous allegations  
> and political repression.
>
> In fact, a critique of the Israeli state, its policies, and the  
> leaders responsible is not and should not be considered an affront  
> to Jewish people as a collective, the Jewish religion, or Jewish  
> heritage.  Conflating the state of Israel with the Jewish people  
> essentializes the assorted political opinions of a diverse  
> religious group by reducing them to the set of policies espoused by  
> the prevailing regime.  The charge of anti-Semitism is made in bad  
> faith; its real purpose is to automatically vilify and stifle any  
> honest critiques of the state of Israel’s policies and practices.
>
> [Insert personal message]
>
> Sincerely,
>
> [your name and contact information]
>
>
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