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Should Academic Free Speech Accommodate Holocaust Denial?


Imagine for a moment that a tenured professor at Lincoln was discovered to be a white nationalist, with his postings sprinkled on the pages of a hatesite such as Stormfront.org in which he railed, as visitors to that odious site do, against the dangers of non-whites to white culture, the harm non-whites do to society through criminality, high birthrates, and low morals, and the overall superiority of the white race to other groups.

Would any member of the Lincoln community care whether or not that professor brought those vile attitudes into his classroom or merely expressed them off campus? Would any member of that community claim the professor had a right to express that type of noxious attitude even safely under the umbrella of academic free speech?

Would any sentient observer contend that a tenured professor who delved into the perverse intellectual netherworld of neo-Nazism and white supremacism could somehow separate his other intellectual life from the person he is when he teaches in front of students?

The answer, obviously, is, no. Anyone who expressed such feelings in the academic community would be immediately and thoroughly shunned, that is, his or her actions and words would be labeled as repugnant hate speech that has no place on a campus. And when offense is given to members of one of academia’s favored victim groups, the response – from administrators, faculty, students groups, and even the outside community – is immediate, widespread, and thunderous in its self-righteousness.

But at Lincoln University, when a tenured professor demonizes Jews, delegitimizes Israel, accuses Zionists and Israelis of treachery, theft, brutality, and pure evil, and calls for the world to rise up and destroy the Jewish state by any means necessary, the reaction is grotesquely understated. In fact, the final moral call by Lincoln’s administration is that while Siddique’s views are not in keeping with the university’s sensibilities, at least he keeps his morally imbecilic views and ideology safely outside the campus walls where, presumably, they cannot infect the minds of students within.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing, has just finished a book about the worldwide assault on Israel taking place on college campuses, “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews.”

About the Author: Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and author of “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews.”


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