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September 12, 2014

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Kevin Jon Heller

Shorter Lubet: it's a conspiracy theory to infer from emails in which donors threaten to withhold donations from the University of Illinois that Salaita was fired because donors threatened to withhold donations from the University of Illinois, but it's fine to assume that Salaita was fired because the trustees "tak[e] anti-Semitism seriously" even though the trustees have specifically disclaimed acting because they believed Salaita is anti-Semitic.

Got it.

Just saying...

No one has discussed the students. Why should students be subjected to someone like this? What parent sends his/her child to college expected him/her to be subjected to the views of this type of individual?

I would like those of you who would have no problem with your child sitting in his classroom or being subjected to this "views" to respond.

anon

Steve, excellent post.

Steven Lubet

Shorter Heller: When people disagree with you, it is okay to impugn their motives without evidence.

Even shorter Lubet: No, it is not.

Luke

Steven Salaita, for YEARS now, has ranted an endless hateful stream of demented, sometimes antisemitic, extremist, lunatic hate in the direction of Israel, Israelis, and anyone who even THINKS of defending ANYTHING about Israel.

Salaita has, for years, promoted bigotry, discrimination and boycotts against Israelis and Israel.

He did not, as some reports said, merely "criticize Israel" and it wasn't just "during their recent conflict with Hamas/Gaza." Salaita contributes articles to extremist websites that promote the idea that Israel should be erased from existence.

Salaita is a bigoted loon.

Why would any university want to give a job to an unhinged, bigoted loon?

The only people loudly sticking up for him are the couple thousand Israel-hating "academics" out there who seem to support just about anything that attacks Israel in some way. Actual normal people who aren't bigoted psychopaths against Israel have no interest in being around the likes of Steve Salaita.

Steven Lubet

Luke: I deleted your last two comments because they do not meet this site's standards of civility. I left the first one alone, although it is questionable, because it is more closely related to the subject of the post.

Comments are welcome, but I will delete those that are impolite or ad hominem.

Kevin Jon Heller

Just saying,

Salaita has years of teaching evaluations at Virginia Tech -- not exactly a campus overrun by bomb-throwing anarchists. That feedback was, without exception, phenomenal:

http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/teaching-political-motivation

As for Lubet's comment: we actually have considerable evidence, in the form of emails the University was forced to disclose, that donors pressured the trustees. We even know that Chancellor Wise met with one of the particularly important ones.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2014-09-02/salaita-prompted-donors-fury.html

That evidence of the trustees' motivation for firing Salaita may be circumstantial, but it is evidence. By contrast, your explanation of Salaita's firing has been publicly and formally disavowed by the trustees. So it's not even accurate to say you are speculating about the trustees' motives -- we know that you are simply wrong about them.

I'm glad to know, though, that you don't believe in impugning the motives of people you disagree with. Your claim that Salaita is an anti-Semite and not simply anti-Zionist could be confusing on that score.

Kevin Jon Heller

Lubet: "I will delete those [comments] that are impolite or ad hominem."

Luke: "Salaita is a bigoted loon".... "an unhinged, bigoted loon"... "actual normal people who aren't bigoted psychopaths against Israel have no interest in being around the likes of Steve Salaita."

I can only speculate what the deleted comment was like if those comments are neither "impolite" nor "ad hominem."

matt

Some claim he hasn't lost yet. Numerous law professors argue the courts will force the U. of I. to hire him because it agreed to hire him conditional on approval of the Bd. of Trustees, everyone knows the Bd. of Trustees is just a rubber stamp, therefore the U. of I. has to go through with the appointment. Simply put, the Bd. of Trustees doesn't know its place. Its supposed to rubber stamp faculty decisions not question them. As Salaita has explained this is a teaching moment, in particular for the Bd. of Trustees who will shortly be put in their place by a judge. Or at least that's what a large number of prominent law professors believe.

anon

Reading so many of the posts and comments on this site, one would necessarily conclude that this affair exposes the entire administration of the University of Illinois - the Chancellor, the President and the Board of Trustees - as ignorant fools who don't realize that they have clearly violated the First Amendment, breached a contract, and wrongfully deprived a reputable scholar of his academic freedom.

We are told by some that this is a clear matter. I would therefore suggest that the "wronged party" here should refuse any settlement of this matter (if any is offered).

After all, job offers will be flooding in, and settlement money won't last as long as the satisfaction of obtaining vindication in court. Given the brilliant analysis by his supporters to date, this case is a SLAM DUNK! Again, he is such a great scholar, and with all his cogent and persuasive "support," it should be only a matter of a few weeks before some prestigious university hires him.

Then, a lawsuit may proceed to certain victory!

Remember, legal academia has ruled on the merits of this case, for strictly principled reasons that will apply to the next case and the case after that. Who knows better how a case like this will play to a jury?

The sage advice of law professors cannot be questioned. They know better than ANYONE how juries rule in cases such as this. They say this is a clear matter. Why, this action violated the FIRST AMENDMENT! It is a slam dunk case of PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL! It violated ACADEMIC FREEDOM!

So, one can only say, with all sincerity, that it is dearly hoped this man will try his case.

To the Plaintiff-to-be: Go for it. Try the case. You can’t lose. It is a sure thing. A jury is going to LOVE you.

JM

People are missing the real point here. This is not really about anti-Semitism. It is about academics fearing public recognition of their own unimportance. Thus, when academic supporters of Salaita rush to his defense, they are really saying: "what we say here in academia is so incredibly important that we cannot be confined by any obligation to be civil, for that might interfere with the sacrosanct importance of our message." The American public patently disagrees since no one pays one iota of attention to academics, and for good reason.

There is plenty of room for across the board viewpoints about Israel's conduct without resort to the vile characterization employed by Salaita. The University showed great character by firing him.

Alexander Tsesis

Steve,
Great Post. Thank you for digging into Salaita's tweets. I hadn't seen these before, and they make even clearer his reliance on traditional antisemitic stereotypes and dehumanizing rhetoric.

Under these circumstances Chancellor Wise had every reason to assert, "What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them." I read through some of the the emails written to her, and many of them were from students rather than donors.

If I may posit a guess into where this is heading: I think that Illinois will settle with Salaita, the settlement will require Salaita and Illinois to not speak about the affair nor derisively about each other, and there won't be a lawsuit. But only time will tell.

Alex

Jeff Redding

The situation has moved beyond one between Chancellor Wise and Professor Salaita. Even if there were a settlement between the two, a larger boycott of University of Illinois is in process, and it's not clear how a settlement would/could affect that. In other words, it's not clear that a settlement would vindicate University of Illinois' academic integrity and would change boycotters' minds about the situation at the university.

Kevin Jon Heller

It's revealing that Lubet claims to enforce a comment policy that requires civility and avoids ad hominem attacks, yet permits Luke to call Salaita a "nutty, bigoted wackjob," but apparently refuses to let me post Salaita's teaching evaluations at that oh-so-far-left Virginia Tech (absolutely stellar), the emails Illinois was forced to reveal (dozens from important donors threatening to stop donating if Salaita wasn't fired, powerful circumstantial evidence as to why he was fired), and trustee statements that make clear that, contra Lubet, they did not fire Salaita because of his "anti-Semitism." I guess we know how confident Lubet is in is position.

Chancellor Wise admitted yesterday that she initially approved Salaita's appointment. Good luck in court, University of Illinois.

Mo Hanson

Heller has a point

Steven Lubet

Heller's comment was caught in the spam filter, which I had already stopped checking for the night. It is now posted (as of 5:53 a.m. CDT).

Really, let's stop impugning people's motives.

MacK

Various people have questioned whether a Jewish student might be made uncomfortable by Salaita. However - it seems pretty transparent to me that the charge of anti-semitism is flung around very easily by Israel's defenders in academia - too easily and often dishonestly at anyone who criticises Israel. Being accused of anti-semitism is pretty serious - as we can see from Salaita's situation, it can be a career ender. One has to wonder how a student feels when confronted by some of the noisy Israel defenders on this and other fora who are willing to casually fling an epithet that is regarded at this point as pretty well like calling someone a paedophile.

So perhaps there needs to be an honest debate about the other question - should someone who misuses the anti-semitism accusation, or trumps up a charge, or distorts and selectively quotes someone be considered as having a chilling effect on students and on debate. Should students have to fear that a professor might make such a comment or statement, or that it might effect their grades, their post-college employment prospects? Should such a person be denied tenure, or have their tenure revoked? I certainly think that this is a serious question in light of this debate. I certainly see how the very arguments that many of those who attacked Salaita would, well, bite back...

anon

We're about to see proof that Salaita's "scholarship" is worthless. No university is going to hire him and everybody knows it. If we were talking about someone who did worthwhile work, universities would be in a bidding war for him, as they get into for top scholars.

Of course, no one who supports Salaita ever talks about his "scholarship" either. Which is more proof of its worthlessness.

If you're wondering why he got a job offer, the head of the department was his dissertation advisor and works with him in a movement to boycott Isreal.

But if you disagree, let's see if any university hires him.

Deborah

Anon The value of Salaita's scholarship can't be determined in the manner you've put it. For one "no university is going to hire him," can mean that there might be academics who'd like to hire him, may be trying to, or may now be feeling that their administration would be too concerned about bad pr to do the deed. Part of what we're witnessing is the fact that "the university" is riddled by a large and ever yawning gap between what faculty take as their rights and responsibilities and what administrators take as their rights and responsibilities, including their responsibility to listen to threats by wealthy donors. It's not a conspiracy theory to suggest that Steve Miller's voice, along with others, constituted political pressure that was brought to bear on Chancellor Wise. One principle that Wise and her Foundation officers adhere to is that money talks.

As for the "truly vile" nature of Salaita's tweets, I think Salaita's tweets are a response to the truly vile nature of the Israeli denial of Palestinian rights for decades.

anon

Deborah

Great post! Here we see the real reason for the "support" this man enjoys!

(Hint: it has nothing to do with his scholarship in the Department of American Indian Studies.)

Again, for all the self righteous posturing here, let's see the proof: a job offer at a prominent university in the Department of American Indian Studies, and a successful lawsuit.

As to the latter, again, one can only hope that lawsuit proceeds. Really. It will be enlightening.


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