Steven Salaita Not Begging in Beirut

    Remember the ethnic Arab academic, Steven Salaita, an American born citizen who couldn't help broadcasting anti-Israel social media 'hate speech'  in 2014, sample:

    "Zionist uplift in America: every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a murderous colonial regime."

    "If (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?"

    And for whom there was much hand wringing in academia, when he was fired from the job he never actually started, in class, at the University of Illinois, for this sort of material?

    He filed a lawsuit with the University of Illinois, demanded the job, didn't get it, but got $600K and legal fees from University of Illinois, which seemed to consider it a fair price to pay to get rid of him for good.

    He is now the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut.

    Although he is in the Arab lands of genocide, sex slaves, mass beheadings of Christians - like him (he is Christian), destruction of majestic Shia mosques in places like Raqqa, mass executions, suicide bombers, destruction of antiquities and the blowing up of civilian aircraft, he is......still......lecturing to 'you' about the problems and violence of American culture. From which he disassociates himself, an American also, as far as I can tell.

    Salaita on the killing in San Bernardino. Salaita in Salon 12/3/15:

    ...It was with much sadness that I witnessed your gleeful reaction when police named Syed Farooq, a devout Muslim, as one of the suspects.  You seem to be under the impression that a Muslim shooter absolves the United States of brutality, forgetting that Farooq is also an American.  This worldview allows you to embrace mythologies that exonerate you of political violence.

    But we must acknowledge Farooq’s nationality, because his terrible deed does not arise from an unknowable foreign culture, but from one endemic to the United States.  You can exempt yourself from Farooq’s actions only if you are willing to exclude minorities from your national identity.  Many of you are happy to do that, but it’s an intellectually lazy choice.

    It is why I greet you as a compatriot.  The greeting might make you uncomfortable because I am Arab, but I am also American.  Being American requires no special ethnic, religious, or ideological character, even though our nationality contains implicit demands.  One of those demands is to not be Arab or Muslim.

    Enough about technicalities, though.  I don’t approach you to be pedantic or to beg for your acceptance, nor do I have any interest in situating mass murder into hierarchies of tolerability.  I merely ask you to consider why those hierarchies exist and why it’s so easy to name state violence as necessary or desirable.  There’s a connection between the supposed deviance of Farooq’s shooting and your endless, adamant justification of U.S. bloodletting throughout the world....

    I would inform Mr. Salaita that most Americans reactions to every detail of the crimes in San Bernardino were not at any point 'gleeful'.

    Ted Cruz and Donald Trump possibly excepted, but Steven Salaita's rant was not addressed to either of them.

    Was he gleeful thinking we were gleeful allowing him to lecture on it? Who knows.

    If he wonders why demagogues in the GOP are having a heyday with talk of terrorists, he might take a look around his own new neighborhood.



    If your purpose is to demonstrate that Salaita has opinions that offend you, then I say you have a lot to work with. But, to the extent that you are trying to convince anyone that he was treated fairly and honestly by the University of Illinois you are relying on a crap argument.

    And for whom there was much hand wringing in academia, when he was fired from the job he never actually started, in class, at the University of Illinois, for this sort of material?

    Not merely sliding past the very heart of the case but throwing out a complete distortion of the main fact of the case and ignoring completely the implications of his firing and dismissing the reaction of so many academics as "hand wringing"  shows a complete disregard for intellectual honesty in the presentation of your attack.





    I stated some facts about his case.

    I believe the University of Illinois made the right decision to not have this guy spouting his angry and jaded attacks and theories in Illinois University classrooms.

    Academics protect academics, cops protect cops, sometimes those they try to protect don't deserve it.

    There is no evidence that the University Trustees rejecting him for hire created some huge muzzling of free speech across America's campuses, or had any effect on it at all.

    It did indicate, that if prospective professors want to mouth off virulent or bizarre hate speech, they should wait until safely ensconced in their tenure protected position.

    It seems on most issues LULU and I are in agreement and PP and NCD hold very different views than I do.  Nevertheless, while I do not sign on completely to all of NCD's language here, I agree with him/her/it and PP that several of Salaita's tweets were either anti-semitic or so close as to be indistinguishable from being anti-semitic.  My belief therefore remains, as I expressed over a year ago, that the University of Illinois rightly rescinded its employment offer to him notwithstanding the settlement that was ultimately reached. 

    I will point out the obvious: The very first sentence of my comment, a comment which in total made two points, agreed that Salaita has said things which are very controversial. You obviously agree with that part of what I said.

    The second point is that NCD made a “crap argument” if he intended to show that Salaita’s treatment by the University of Illinois was fair and honest. I stand by that while admitting/acknowledging that whatever side  a person comes down on they are relying on subjective judgment, but that said, if they are intending to be fair in their telling of a story that justifies their subjective opinion on an important subject they should not so obviously cherry-pick the evidence and leave out so much that is important.

    I will now just say that the fact that hundreds of academics and many academic organizations studied the situation and came down on the side of Salaita is strong evidence, I would say proof, that there is much more to the story than the one-sided blast against Salaita’s character that NCD made and parts of which you show agreement with.

    Your link mentions Corey Robin who was probably the main driving force ramping up a defense of Salaita. He has over sixty blogs on the subject beginning on August 8, 2014, which have many well thought out comments mostly from others within academia and a representative number who basically agree with you that the firing was justified though not nearly all of them for the same reasons. These blogs are the best source I am aware of for a more complete understanding of the issue than could possibly be gained from a single inflammatory post which stresses only perceived negatives of the subject as NCD sees them but neglects all context and all of the reasons that Salaita’s defenders did so.    


    If Salaita is a highly worthy yet wronged scholar I would expect US or UK universities and colleges would. be deluging him with offers.  

    Talk is cheap. Where are the prestigious universities lining up to hire this eminent expert on broadcasting slander?

    Talk is cheap.

    Glad you agree with me on that point at least because it is very much a part of what I have been saying. 

    I don't expect you to modify your feelings on this issue but there may be some who are curious enough to look further. Here is a letter to Chancellor Phyllis Wise of UIUC that is worth reading, IMO, but it is just one of very many.

    Also, for those who might be interested:

    Agree with Hal below, and will withdraw comment.

    I suggest you give it a rest and then give it a little thought. Your innuendo about me is a nasty little slander that is completely irrelevant to anything I have said regarding this blog of yours and especially since I have not shown or in any way demonstrated wholehearted support for Steven Salaita but have merely pointed out that there is much more to consider about his case than anyone would know based on what you say to support your conclusion.  But, like you said and like you continue to demonstrate, talk is cheap. 

    Even handed Lulu on the IDF, Israeli children, and Human Shields:

    Hamas is steadily being accused of using human as shields. This is a way to demonize them and at the same time to excuse to the extent possible the killing of so many civilians. So many that it appears to many that the killing of Palestinian civilians is largely indiscriminate... If the Palestinian was shielded by Israeli children I am guessing a different choice would be made..

    What is your point? Here you have taken pieces of two different comments, both out of their own original context and neither having to do with the subject at hand, and present them as if they prove something nefarious even though the truth of both is self-evident. You could have at least saved me the effort of looking for a link to the original but I am glad anyway. I found the old discussion interesting once again. Take your meds and come back in the morning.

    I have a pro-Israel, anti-Hamas bias and find Salaita's writing, and 'thought experiments' about IDF members choosing religion/race before they shoot someone to be offensive.

    I will leave it at that.

    The fact that Hamas kills children is irrelevant to the truth of Lulu's statement, which is that the IDF was indiscriminately killing noncombatants, and that this "hiding behind civilians" mantra is a dishonest attempt to shift responsibility away from the perpetrators.

    I hadn't heard of Saliata's case before now, but the statements that NCD cited don't seem to me to be a legitimate basis for scuttling his appointment.  A lot of academics hated George W. Bush; hating Netanyahu doesn't make you unfit to teach. The comment about Israel making Jews killers was inflammatory, but it doesn't have to be read as meaning Jews are inherently murderous(although I need to look up the full quote).

    Writing in an unhinged, juvenile, embarrassing fashion in a public forum when you haven't even started your gig as a tenured supposedly-professional professor seems like it *SHOULD* be reason enough to scuttle an appointment.

    I think the university was hoping to get a professor of Native American studies, not an 8-year-old using his position as soapbox for annoying, poorly thought-out messages on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. If he wants to apply for a political advocacy position, or even university tenure for say Palestinian affairs, perhaps he's got a career ahead. Otherwise, he's playing a particularly annoying bait-and-switch.

    I'd support the foray into current politics more if it were actually even in the wide ballpark of academic quality, but it's more of the grade of throwing up on the rector's wife and calling it free speech.

    So the untalented bastard got $875,000 payout for an $85K a year job he never started, and whines that U of I "destroyed my career".

    I appreciate that Chomsky has made a 2nd career of his politics segued from his linguistic brilliance - while I can critique and criticize some of his pieces, they are invariably written with some thought and pedigree. In short, MIT is honored to have a stimulating figure. Saliata probably forgot that he hadn't risen through the 1st career yet, much less put in the thought on his 2nd career. Still he gets his pay - reality sometimes has a unfair balance. Oh well, next outrage.

    Well, I can't agree that academics should lose their jobs--or prospective jobs--because of their political views.  That seems like McCarthyism to me. Whether he is "unhinged" is largely subjective. If he were a Nazi, it might be different, but I don't think he is. What matters is whether his work meets the university's standards. In my neck of the woods, there were people demanding that a UNH professor(a guy I was arrested with) be fired because he was a 9/11 Truther; I didn't like that much either.

    I don't like it when people attack me personally.  I like it even less when somebody else is the target.  I think this comment crosses the civility line much like Salaita's tweets did.

    Thanks NCD!

    I'm not sure what the standard for loud-mouthed perfessors is anymore* (I'd have guessed Salaita has some real academic credentials? well, not really - American Indians *AND* Palestinians?), and I'm not persuaded by his weird San Bernadino comments claiming the perpetrator as a product of US culture (even if Lebanon's not the heart of Arab murder, especially American University - drainball), but I am struck by:

    “Only Israel can murder around 300 children in the span of a few weeks and insist that it is the victim,”

    Try Hussein, Assad, Putin, Ahmadinejad or Khamenei, Hugo Chavez, Qaddafi, Kim of North Korea, or allies like Hollande and Merkel - nowhere else would we blithely accept the overreactions that we accept from Israel (granted that the pressures on Israel are huge, but also with a huge amount of support from the US and others). The storming of the Turkish peace flotilla turned into a pack of excuses worthy of the Chicago police force - and accepted approvingly by our Administration. Bullets point-blank in prone protestor? Must have been threatening. Numerous civilians including children killed in bombing? Damn Arabs use them as smoke-screens. And like in Chicago, Israeli self-investigation miraculously always finds IDF & other security participants' actions completely justified. What's that song from Chicago, "He had it coming"?


    *I'd suggest anyone capable of publishing a tweet like

    “Zionists, take responsibility: If your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just f–cking own it already,” he tweeted. And, “If you’re defending #Israel right now, you’re an awful human being.”

    doesn't belong anywhere near the faculty of a respected institution. Presumably, a professional academician knows how to communicate rather than rant, which is what s/he's supposed to teach students.

    One Jewish student - I think rightfully - notes: “I think it’s more of an issue of civil discourse. It’s not about Judaism or about Israel, it’s about feeling safe on campus.”

    I'm somewhat unpersuaded by a lot of the claims about microaggression *between students*, but when a professor as in a position of power can't hold his tongue and comes across this unhinged and unprofessional, yes, people would feel intimidated in that class and on campus in general (probably not just Jews). Sure, go ahead and give your opinion, knowing that if you're wrong, you're an awful human being supporting the murder of children.

    Great rant. Agree completely.

    I think Illinois should hire a Native American for the job if still open.

    Maybe even from the Illinois Confederation?

    Sioux, Cherokee or Choctaw? Half of Oklahomans have tribal ancestors, often Cherokee. Don't know about the tribes of Illinois.

    Definitely not from the Illinois-Miami branch

    Comment removed by author. Was written for another place.
    That was weird; gremlins in the code.


    Individual Jews and various organs of the Isreali Government have done terrible things to Palestinans.


    And vice versa.  

    An academic who said either A or B would have only been stating a fact and should not have been fired for that.

    And anyone who says  either A or  B, here, is simply stating a fact, Certainly "balance" requires that if you state A you should immediately follow it with B. But since when has balance been a requirement for blogging.

     Or for being an academic?

    An Arab academic who so humiliated a Jewish student that he couldn't learn should be fired. Etc.

    I could comment upon appropriate  behavior here  but this post is already long enough so I'll stop.




    A and B are distinct universes - no one who says A says B and means it, and vice versa. But there are different ways of saying A - to-may-to, to-mah-to, to-muh-to, fuckin' A... Most academics need to at least be able to spell A, even C-A-T cat. For this one, it seems doubtful.

     no one who says A says B and means it.

    Surely you know people who strongly disapproved of , say,  bombing of the King David Hotel and  (you choose) any one of the heartless Palestinian acts of violence.The Israelis and the Palestinians are in the eighth decade of a war and as in all wars both sides do horrible things.

    There may be " different ways of saying" that  the assassination of Rabin was despicable  but  making the acceptable choice among  them shouldn't  be a teaching requirement.

    When the British association of University professors (whatever it's called) passed a resolution opposing invitations to  Israeli academics  Juan Cole eloquently disputed that  essentially saying 'Having debated those people all over the world, it would be contemptible for me to stand by when their right to express themselves is challenged '.

    I suspect those Israelis would have been more popular if they chose to-mah-to but that shouldn't have been a requirement for them to speak in the UK.Nor  for Professor Salaita to hold his job.

    A little bit of censorship is like a little bit of pregnancy.




    People are censored all the time - quite often if their level of rhetoric and skill at expressing themselves is quite primitive. Now the fact that half or more the current GOP lineup fits this description doesn't mean a university should lower its standards to the current sad state of politics. I'm sure most people Juan Cole gave time for debate are largely real professors in the traditional sense of the word, and not just ranters with a God-knows-how teaching post somewhere. And maybe if he'd been so ineloquent in trying to talk about the field he was hired for I could at least say, "well, they're desperate for Native American profs, so we'll put up with fallow in a season of want". But he was already embarrassing the school through his rants on a completely different topic - and by embarrass, I again don't mean the content - I'm continually hard on Israel re: treatment of Palestinians - I'm talking about his presentation and apparently his level of intellect and self-perception. Considering the cost of university education these days, having him for a class would be a horridly bad investment unless there's something about his Native American and classroom prowess that's completely lacking from his public outbursts. Hopefully he's at least potty trained - I guess that wouldn't be grounds to sever his contract either, right?

    I am solely concerned about the appearance of an academic institution censoring an unpopular position. Like Larry Summers. Perhaps you're right it happens all the time. Too bad.

    I knew and know nothing about  Mr. Salaita but assume he was qualified for the position for which he was hired. And was paid $600K because the school believed the courts would agree..

    Censorship is censorship whether it's outright suppression or  a requirement to avoid plain talk and mask your message.Which doesn't require a college degree.    



    $875K. Please censor my dagblog rantings and send a check for even half that much.

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