Ironically that professor was the unjust victim recipient of his own doctrine. He was later fired on a complaint by an African student that he was a racist, which of course he wasn’t.
In one graduate seminar, still another professor–an older anti-Israel guy but still a conservative and a gentleman of the old school–couldn’t stop the class from laughing as it discussed the ridiculous new book, Orientalism, by Edward Said. We easily pointed out the holes in the book and Said’s claims of perpetual Western bias against Arabs. We looked at Orientalism itself as outdated but respectable, too anthropological and generalizing for our tastes. We looked at ourselves as historians and social scientists.
But the idea that Orientalists were agents of imperialism was untrue. They were great scholars, though some did do political work in which their views weren’t shaped but often mistakenly implemented, just like such things happen today. Who would have believed that this ignorant and malicious book could ever take over the entire field and destroy scholarship?!
I guess we should have also known better from the fate of the professor who I had openly argued with. He was the new-style leftist referred to above, the kind who is typical today. While I disliked him, he was clearly not a racist but the very model of the new Politically Correct falsifier. He was fired after being accused by an African student of alleged racial bias due to his low grade. No kidding. This professor was obviously not racist, a victim though of his own Political Correctness.
I didn’t feel this was a victory but that he had been mistreated, albeit ironically. I faced similar situations. I will never forget how my job interview at another university, the only time I ever applied for a teaching position, was interrupted by one professor screaming at me, “How could you ever possibly represent the narrative of the Palestinian people?” To which I responded that I didn’t think I was supposed to represent its case, clearly. I merely thought I was supposed to teach about it.
Note that the professor who would have been willing to hire me was an Arab liberal. But he tried to hint to my naive younger self why I didn’t have a chance.
You should understand that at that time, in the early 1980s, I had never written about the Arab-Israeli conflict. And although this professor had me in his Arabic class, I don’t think he remembered me and certainly knew nothing about me. I think the problem was my last name. All of this reminiscing is prompted by a news story I just read.
An Arab professor at Georgetown, a place that is flush with Arab money, full of apologists for anti-American Islamism, a place where no Israeli or pro-Israel student might dare to tread, has just launched a campaign claiming that he was discriminated against and fired for anti-Israel bias! So this is how you handle things. You lie.
Take over the university or relevant departments; spend 30 years or more in biased hiring practices and dishonest, propagandist “scholarship;” and no matter how many insiders know the truth, you still claim that the university is biased against the left and the defamers of America and Israel!
And those who don’t know better may believe it. The problem for this Egyptian professor is that there was no organized campaign against him, and no one outside the university knew who he was. The fact is that his scholarly work wasn’t very good. Highly politicized, though obscure media appearances are still not sufficient to demonstrate research excellence.
You could call this the Juan Cole principle after a radical professor whose radical pronouncements on contemporary Middle East issues were frequent–though he was a specialist on Middle Ages religious disputes–and who missed out on a good job (at Duke) because of his lack of scholarly work, then claimed bias.
It was sufficient in a notorious case at Columbia University for a crackpot extremist to get a promotion but not at Duke University. At any rate, we now see that crying bias is the first refuge of scoundrels. The real victims never get far enough along in the process for them to build a case and can never muster support from a biased media either.
Georgetown was getting Arab money for teaching about the Middle East, but none of it could be used to teach about Israel.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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