Chicago TribuneÂ reporter Jodi S. Cohen
This is a link to the richly sourced Jodi Cohen piece on the Steven Salaita dismissal andÂ firing travesty at theÂ University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am quoted in the article as defending Professor Salaita from the latest auto-da-fÃ© when speaking out on the Israel/Palestine conflict that challenges elite opinion in this country.
From this in depth article, I excerpt Cary Nelson andÂ my “debate” on the limits of academic freedom, if any,Â in this disturbing situation:
U. of I. English professor Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors, said Salaitaâ€™s actions are not protected by academic freedom because he has not yet been hired. Instead, he said, he supports the universityâ€™s decision that Salaita was â€œnot the right fit for the campus.â€
â€œIt was valid for the campus to basically say … we better take another look at this guy,â€ Nelson said.
â€œA lot of people have been disturbed by the character of his social media because it is in the same areas that he does his scholarship. If it was a musician saying that global warming is a bunch of nonsense, who would care? It is because the tweets are an extension of his publication, they are central to his work and many feel they cross the line into anti-Semitism,â€ Nelson said. â€œThe anti-Semitism does (bother me) and what appears to be almost a solicitation of violence.â€
Peter Kirstein, vice president of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors, called the revocation of Salaitaâ€™s job â€œoutlandish.â€
â€œThis is highly irregular. It is not the way a great university or any university conducts its hiring practices. You have academic freedom, due process,â€ said Kirstein, chair of the organizationâ€™s academic freedom and tenure committee and a history professor at Saint Xavier University.
â€œHe could have been a little more careful in the language he used, but he had the right.â€
CONTACT: Peter N. Kirstein, firstname.lastname@example.org