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August 08, 2016


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“pandering to the dictates of a handful of vocal and wealthy religious zealots.” ... i.e., Jews.

Again the issue here seems to be the loose standards. the AAUP refers to conduct outside the academy in only the most vague terms, the most applicable of which seems to be "dishonesty" (which the AAUP relates in examples only to plagiarism) and perhaps "immorality" (which is basically impossible to prove except in the most egregious cases, and probably irrelevant here).

Perhaps in cases where the political consensus is such that almost all would agree, e.g., the KKK Grand Wizard, a case could be made. But Jew hate is, of course, an entirely different matter. Many in the academy consider this an important corollary of Israel hate (perhaps, in some instances, the other way around).

The question here should be whether I can be a vocal, vicious bigot in my free time and retain my position on a faculty. If the bigotry is against a politically disfavored group (e.g., Jews), the answer would appear to be yes without much more, "wealthy religious bigot donors" notwithstanding.

References to whether the bigotry is germane to the academic subject of the faculty member are just a smoke-screen, and completely irrelevant, as any such openly expressed hostile bigotry will affect students one way or another. (A Calculus class for the neo Nazi students taught by the Grand Wizard, a Physics course for the militants of other groups taught by their chosen rep, ? Lovely.)

The applicable standards are so vague as to be meaningless. It should not be so, but it is.

It appears to this reader that Oberlin is in big trouble here.


As a Jewish Oberlin grad who is now an academic, I have followed this story with some interest. A couple of quick questions.

First, you write, "but perhaps she has successfully kept her noxious views out of the classroom." My understanding (admittedly from conversations I can't cite) is that this is not, in fact, true. We do know that there was an investigation. If it had turned up evidence that she had not kept her noxious views out of the classroom (or in other exchanges with students), would that alter your position as to whether a suspension was justified?

Second, you write: "If Karega is fired or disciplined, it will be taken as further evidence of a Zionist conspiracy. If she is retained, she will brag about defeating the same powerful forces. In either case, the important message about viral anti-Semitism, and its presence among Israel's critics, will be drowned out by the noise." I am trying to imagine writing something similar if the professor had promoted truly vile racist propaganda -- and I don't mean something like criticizing affirmative action, I mean something equivalent to the straight-up "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" on race. Would we be concerned -- and I mean sufficiently concerned to question discipline -- that actions taken against that hypothetical professor would be "drowned out by the noise" of folks claiming some sort of "PC conspiracy"? I'm skeptical.

Steve L.

Joseph Slater: Thanks for your comment and sorry about the delay; it was stuck in the spam filter and I didn't see it until a few minutes ago.

As to your questions: Yes, evidence of bigotry in the classroom -- which includes teaching unfounded conspiracy theories -- would make an obvious and enormous difference, both to me and (I assume) to the AAUP.

However, I have gotten emails with accusations against Karega that turned out to be untrue upon investigation. For example, one very highly regarded former academic wrote to me that her dissertation is full of the same stuff. I read the dissertation, and it contains nothing of the sort. I am not saying this to exonerate her -- far from it -- just saying that one must be careful about these things.

My "drowned out by the noise" remark was a lament about the manner in which Oberlin has handled the situation, not a recommendation to ignore it.

If there is evidence of misconduct, it should be released at the same time as removal from teaching, not afterward. The "noise" is the academic freedom issue, which I fear is going to overshadow the noxious anti-Semitism which is far too common among Israel critics.


Fair enough (I'm puzzled by the spam filter, but maybe it knows something I don't). I suspect that the several-month investigation did turn up some evidence of this sort of thing filtering into the classroom. I'm not as certain as I read you as being that this sort of evidence should be released publicly, but I can see arguments either way.

I think there would be "noise" no matter how Oberlin handled it. It appears to me that at the end of the day, the college did the right thing: it did a lengthy (which I hope means careful and thorough) investigation, and it issued discipline only after that investigation was complete. Now I'm also an old union lawyer, so I have no problem with the AAUP ensuring that academic freedom concerns are given their proper weight and that evidence of these crazy views negatively affecting her interactions with students (Jewish or otherwise) is really there. My only point was that academic freedom concerns should be weighed against countervailing concerns about professors explicitly endorsing Nazi views of Jews in the same manner that academic freedom concerns should be weighed against countervailing concerns in cases of, e.g., explicitly vile racist speech against African-Americans.

Steve L.

I just released your comment, JS. I have no idea why the spam filter catches you, but you are not the only one to whom this happens. Sorry.

You are wrong, however, that Oberlin issued the suspension "only after that investigation was complete." In fact, it was an interim suspension, issued by the administration without further explanation, pending the completion of the faculty review.

In other words, the administration preempted the usual procedure for faculty review of alleged academic misconduct.

Howard Wasserman

I think Joseph is right about the different reactions between anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism. But I wonder if some of this involves the unique nature of some anti-Semitism, which is based on the myth not of inferiority, but of secret Jewish power and a conspiracy to rule the world. There is no Black equivalent to the Protocols.


OK re the word "complete," but the investigation/review has been ongoing for some time now. Why do you assume they don't have enough evidence already to justify a suspension? In labor relations generally an employer can know (or at least reasonably believe) enough to justify a suspension pending further investigation.



I think Black males would disagree that anti Black racism against them is not based, at least in part, on a perception of power. This stereotype is so ubiquitous that it would be sort of hard to disagree.

Jew hate is based often on the perception that Jews are money grubbing. In fact, this is the usual reason people cite to hate Jews, I think. I've seen some German propaganda from the 1930s that questioned the reason that so few Jews worked with their hands, for example. Germans toiled, in other words, while Jews profited on their labor (so the story went).

The Jew hate referenced above seems to be of a different type, however: the perception that Jews are, as a famous actor once said, responsible for all wars.

This overlaps nicely with another thread on this site, praising the study of Islam. There seems to be a connection between Sharia law, permitting dishonesty in dealing with those with whom one is "at war," and the promulgation of the meme that all wars are a Jewish conspiracy (of course, this circles back to the main reason to hate Jews, as the reason Jews promote war, it is said, is to profit from the misery thereby caused.)

What is so shocking is the prevalence in legal academia, among supposedly educated persons, of persons who really do believe this stuff. One finds that their affinity for the cause of the Palestinians, about whom some seem to know so much but understand so little, may drive this to some extent. To a greater extent, I fear, is that they are just bigots and prejudiced people (as I hear so often their hate speech about other groups, such as "middle aged white people," etc.


A couple of questions here, to which I'd like views.

You have someone who openly and notoriously expresses virulent hatred of a group - e.g., racism, religious, xenophobia, nationality, homophobia, misogyny, misandry. To me this presents two questions, especially when it comes to students in a university, or if this person is a supervisor (in the US say in government.)

1. How do you address the problem any person from the group to which hostility is expressed will experience in dealing with such a hater, their sense of insecurity, of threat. Let's turn it around and say the academic is a close analogue of Pamela Geller - surely having a Muslim and Arab forced to deal with Ms. Geller as a supervisor would be outrageous (Joy Karena's comments are, if you changed the labels very like Geller.) At what point do you have to conclude that the expressed views makes it impossible to put a student or subordinate in that position, and that the hater therefore cannot do their job?

2. It seems that a widespread view is that provided the hater does not allow their views to intrude into their interactions with students or subordinates, then they cannot be dismissed for those views. However, this does present two difficulties. First, it is essentially says someone has to be victimised before we can address the problem, i.e., it allows harm to take place. Second, if someone is a frothing antisemite, it seems to me that the victim would have a claim against the college or employer who put them in a position where victimisation based on race, religion, orientation etc. was highly likely. Third, suppose you do monitor the hater closely - at what point will the hater be able to complain that the close monitoring is discriminatory. Fourth, consider the cost and burden of the monitoring.



On point 1., what if the budget has room for only one person in the Hater's role - i.e., there is no alternative to dealing with Hater.


For one, as expressed above, the notion that "relevancy" to the academic's course work is farcical. All would probably agree that the Grand Wizard teaching Calculus doesn't mean the KKK affiliation is irrelevant. The problem here is that Jew hate is acceptable to so many in academia, especially if it is dressed up as "anti Zionist" (a "Zionist" being a "Jew" in the mind of nearly all, see, e.g., "world wide Jewry", the Rothschild reference above, etc.).

The cause of the "Palestinians" (that word actually once used to refer to the "Jews") is just a cover, given how obviously lopsided that way of approaching the "Jew problem" becomes. (Favor those who are committed to genocide and destruction of Israel because the target of their hate is the never-ending irritant of Jews in their midst - we relate to this irritant, because it exists in academia as well, where Jews are a constant irritant! We thus fly speck Israel's response to those committed to its destruction and ignore the actions that call for such response.)

So, we have these periodic battles about profs who are accused of having expressed anti Semitic memes. The profs win, generally. The AAUP expression of "rules" is risibly vague and there is no way to enforce anything like what some would demand if the Grand Wizard found himself teaching Calculus. The "rules" rely on the good faith of academia, which is in short supply these days. Objectively, fairness, equal regard for all persons: nah!!!! We have "morals" to enforce, and OUR notion of morality doesn't call for such tripe.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Professor Lubet,

In you last post, you mentioned Electrical Engineering Professor Butz. I believe the distinction is that at least Butz has an original "theory." Odious as it is. Professor Oberlin here parrots what she heard or read. I heard the exact same things last May when I brough my car to the dealer to be fixed. One of the sales people I befriended showed me all of these websites that showed the Jewish relatives of ISIL memebers. He also told me that physicians and drug companies don't want to cure cancer because of lost income. He also told me that the levies in New Orlenas were blown up... I schmooze with everybody...and gave him my card.


99% of the time, the posters on the net after claiming they are not antisemites just "antizionist" praise hitler and laugh about genocide. No one really beliwves the nonsense bandied about like "obama is a mossad agent" "all the cia chiefs are jews", "the mossad killed kennedy" and "isis is an israeli org" but people who dislike jews - and there are many of them - use this to rationalize their hate.
As to jew power it is true that many high tech companies are jew dominated like facebook and google but so what, there are others christian dominated.
The phenomenon of dislike for jewish folks is not going away it is intensifying.


Thank goodness that legal academia - populated by educated, privileged (some would say over privileged), exceptionally hard working, fair minded persons - is a bulwark against invidious discrimination and prejudices for and against any persons based on age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King

Gosh, it is truly amazing what I learn on this blog!!!! Obama is not a Mossad Agent!!! What a relief! Thanks Guest poster. Seriously, this raises another issue: Who comes up with this "stuff" and why would a learned, accomplished professor, with a good high PAYING gig and a pension risk everything for obvious drivul?


Dear Captain,

As you yourself mentioned you hang out with all types. What makes you think that others such as myself do not and/or that we do not view what various opinions are out there. Moreover, what risk are you alluding to? Reading the conspiracy nonsense does not end up in the topics of my publications. There are people who believe in many things that you and I would find comical and entertaining yet is accepted by large numbers of people.

Dear Anon,

The problem you folks have is that those you look to, to be a bulwark will transform in a flash if it is to their self-advantage. Also,, the bulwarks are greatly outnumbered.



My comment was totally sarcastic.

Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King


I do not hang out with all types. I only hang out with Mitt Romney and Donald Trump among their 956 mansions and binders of women. Thank You. Now, back to the debate. If some folks believe these conspiracies, is it "nonsense?" It makes sense to them. The question is why? What attracts them to it and why?


Mr. Captain, Sir, "binders of women"? Mansions? It is manifestly clear that these hang outs are quite the experience. (Intellectually stimulating of course.) If you can obtain an invite for me at one of these gatherings I would be most appreciative. Thanks.

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