Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 24, 2014

Antisemitism and Salaita

Filed under: Uncategorized — louisproyect @ 12:33 am


The following letter by Michael Rothberg originally appeared on his website. Rothberg is the Head of the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Director of the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. He is the author of Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (2000) and Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (2009), and the co-editor of The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings (2003) and Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University: Poetry, Politics, and the Profession (2009).

August 17, 2014
Dear Chancellor Wise,

I am sorry that I cannot join my colleagues in their meeting with you on August 18. I truly appreciate your making yourself available for dialogue with faculty members concerned about the university’s handling of the Steven Salaita case. Dialogue between the administration and the faculty is precisely what has been missing thus…

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  1. The Chancellor, Phyllis Wise, issued a statement saying that Salaita violated the rules of civility for the university. A cautionary tale about the real purpose of emphasizing civility. It only makes things worse for the university, I think, as implies non-existent wrongdoing on Salaita’s parts.


    Comment by Richard Estes — August 24, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

  2. The idea that a university is a “community” in which everyone is “civil” is the biggest lie since the claim that tobacco is good for you.

    Read Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Lucky Jim, Lolita, and the biography of James Watson if you want some very faint idea of just how nasty academics really are and have been for decades. There are more liars, plagiarists, alcoholics, sexual compulsives, sadists, fascists, fag-baiters, woman-haters, anti-intellectuals, and intelligence agency and law enforcement creeps and toadies on university faculties than there are in all the other non-government professions put together. And this does not include the outright intellectual frauds, who may constitute a distinct majority of the so-called “professoriat–for example most practitioners of the so-called “human sciences” and the so-called “deconstructionists” in English departments.

    I’m all for the idea of tenured faculty in principle and I think that the substantial minority of good professors are pearls beyond price. I also believe the purely vocational services-on-contract model followed by e.g. the opportunistic right-wing scum behind the fraudulent University of Phoenix (or the deceptively respectable and thoroughly contemptible James Madison University) is far worse than the whorehouses being operated by the likes of Madame Wise.

    But the reality in the U.S. today, even in the fully legitimate universities, is very different from what many enlightened non-academics imagine. The old-line “progressive” fantasy of academic life today is no more realistic than the generous imaginings of old-time American Communists about the reality of life under Stalin.

    Wise’s smarm on behalf of one of the most corrupt and brutal institutions in American society is fully on a par with the hasbara she is being paid to defend and disseminate. The backstabbing and character assassination in Salaita’s case are the common coin of tenure proceedings and academic politics in general and reflect the true nature of all our university faculties–in fact, are the barest tip of the iceberg.

    NB: there is far more than mere Zionism at work here. If all you come up with at the end of the day is a Jewish conspiracy behind the woodwork, IMHO, you are missing the point.

    Comment by smooney567898@yahoomail.com — August 25, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

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