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Saturday, April 16, 2005


Herman, SPME or From the Sublime to the Slime

Thanks to Siva at censoringthought for the link to Edward Herman's "The New York Times Supports Thought Control: The Massad Case. Excerpts followed by some scary points thanks defendcolumbia from Columbia's Chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (don't be fooled by the name).

"We are in another period of escalating attacks on civil liberties, with the Patriot Act, a lawless rightwing administration, open threats to retaliate against judicial failures to follow rightwing dictates, and perpetual aggression to create the justification for repressive policies at home. An important additional factor is the steadily increasing aggressiveness of pro-Zionist forces, both in the United States and elsewhere, who have fought to contain criticism of Israeli policies by any means, including harassment, intimidation, threats, boycotts, claims of "anti-semitism," occasional resort to violence, and other forms of pressure.

"Attacks on critics of Israel are of long standing. Individuals like Edward Said and Noam Chomsky have been vilified and threatened for years, and both frequently needed police protection at speech venues, at work or at home. The situation has worsened in the Bush-2 era, in good part because of the cultivated hysteria of the "war on terror" and congenial environment provided by Bush, the strengthening of the rightwing media, and the demands imposed by Israeli policies.

"On the latter point, it has long been noted that increased Israeli violence and land seizure, which causes greater international hostility to Israel, induces a new protective response by "defenders of Israel." In recent years nobody who criticizes Israeli policies has escaped attack--not attack by intellectual argument, but by ad hominem assault, spam invasions, the use of stolen addresses to embarrass, threats, and campaigns to discredit and silence.

"The Bush-Sharon era has witnessed the emergence of McCarthyite institutions like Campus Watch and the David Project, designed to police academic Middle East studies for un-Israeli-patriotic thoughts, putting pressure on academics and administrators to intellectually cleanse, and providing targets for vigilantism.

"There are even current proposals to legislate for "balance" and "fairness" in Middle East studies both at the state and federal level. These vigilante efforts and attempts to politicize the university pose serious threats to free speech, academic freedom, and the independence of the university. They are also threats to integrity and truth, with the main target criticism of Israeli policy and with the aim of making the official Israeli version of history the sole legitimate narrative."

Some of the recommendations from the thought police, to wit, the Scholars for Middle East Peace

They want a committee to look into "allegations of breeches of academic integrity in curricular, course offerings, syllabi, and reading assignments"

"As members of the Columbia faculty, we have, over the course of the past 3 years, witnessed:

1. Systematic anti-Israel bias and breaches of academic integrity in curricula and course offerings,

2. Intimidation and humiliation of students because of their opinions regarding Israel, and

3. Abuse of the classroom as a platform for political propaganda and pressure."

They also feel it's important to state, "Several faculty and former faculty members also have incidents to report but have refused to appear in the film or to file formal complaints because of fears for their careers."

And the stasi at SPME criticize the Ad Hoc Committee Report criticising teachers who have encouraged their students to patrol their teachers: "The report [Columbia's Ad Hoc Committee] also criticizes faculty for "encouraging students to report to the committee a fellow-professor's classroom statements."

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