Norman Finkelstein Case Can Be a “Win” for DePaul and for “Freedom.”

Insidehighered.com takes comments. Jonathan Cohen, a mathematics professor at DePaul, is obviously a non-supporter of Professor Finkelstein. He refers in a rather imprecise, dismissive manner to his colleague’s scholarship as “polemical.” He engages in an arguably polemical assault on the political science department that supported Dr Finkelstein’s application for tenure by a 9 to 3 vote: “The political science department at DePaul is probably the schools most left leaning department. There are a couple of Clinton Democrats but the rest are way to the left of that.” I wonder where the third vote came from?

The professor also made this comment:

“DePaul can not win in this process. The decision will be seen by many as a judgment on DePaul’s view of the Arab/Israeli conflict and those who don’t like the decision will be furious about it.” [Emphasis added.]

I responded with this comment:

Professor Cohen asserted “DePaul can not win in this process.” I respectfully disagree with this comment: If respect for academic freedom is upheld. If critical thinking is nurtured and even embraced. If outstanding teaching, as evidenced in this matter, is appropriately validated, the institutional culture is enriched and invigorated and DePaul “wins.”

Alan Charles Kors, the illustrious conservative and founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, wrote a lengthy letter to then St Xavier University President Richard Yanikoski defending my academic freedom during my suspension case four years ago. I think this excerpt is appropriate to the issue at hand: Namely universities that are willing to pass through a storm of controversy by protecting ACADEMIC FREEDOM will be stronger and more vital academic institutions:

“Politics educes passions, on issues of war and peace, life and death, abortion and choice, affirmative action, and on, and on. We must know how each other thinks, and we must respond to speech that we abhor with further speech, with moral witness, and with disapprobation—not with coercion or with official sanction. Universities are not too weak to live with freedom. Students are not too weak to live with freedom.”


Dr Alan Charles Kors, founder of F.I.R.E., George H. Walker Endowed Term Chair at the University of Pennsylvania

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