[Marxism] Fwd: Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1) | Mondoweiss
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 13 17:57:07 MDT 2014
Ever since the news broke on Aug. 6 that Steven Salaita’s faculty
appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) had
been terminated due to tweets critical of Israel, the most prominent
expert voice—indeed, the only expert mainstream voice—to emerge in
support of the university’s decision has been UIUC English professor
Nelson’s reputation as an advocate of academic freedom, having lectured
and written at length on the subject and having served as the president
of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), has made
him the go-to voice on the Salaita affair in reports featured in The
Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, CNN, HuffPost Live, and
But last January, I wrote a lengthy study of Cary Nelson’s stance toward
academic boycotts and Palestine/Israel, calling into question his
ability to professionally assess issues of academic freedom when the
region is involved.
As a follow-up to that piece, I shall demonstrate that Nelson’s
authority to speak about Salaita’s termination is compromised on several
Nelson’s history of direct political opposition to Salaita, specifically
on the issue of Israel and BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions).
--Nelson’s undisclosed communications with the instigator of the attacks
against Salaita—William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection
blog—specifically on the issue of Salaita.
--Nelson’s membership, and even leadership, in organizations that seek
to “strengthen the pro-Israel movement on campus,” “advocate on behalf
of the State of Israel,” and counter “the far left’s attacks on Israel.”
--Nelson’s now-contradictory stances on academic freedom that have even
compelled the AAUP to distance itself from his comments.
Nelson’s unfamiliarity with Twitter, which has led him to make
embarrassingly ill-informed accusations.
--Nelson’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of any interpretation of
Salaita’s tweets other than his own, leading to a refusal to argue for
--Nelson’s failure to disclose—and even his refusal to disclose at
times—the conflicts of interest detailed above before offering a
supposedly professional opinion on the matter.
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