Couple Thoughts about Academic Censorship

The American Association of University Professors has decided to censure the University of Illinois because the school decided to withdraw it offer of employment to a “professor” who went off on an anti-Israel tirade on Twitter.

First thought: U of I Chancellor Phyllis Wise is taking the AAUP’s censorship seriously. Why? The man objected, loudly and vociferously, to Israel’s defending itself against the Palestinian Authority’s terror war that it launched from Gaza.

Second thought: the censure was done by voice vote. It was carefully anonymous. How can any action by a body like this be taken seriously by a body like a university when the voters are so timid or so ashamed of their votes that they avoid being on the record with their vote?

Third thought: Anita Levy, Associate Secretary for the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, & Governance said that U of I’s decision

violated Professor [Steven] Salaita’s [the professor in question] academic freedom and cast a pall of uncertainty over the degree to which academic freedom is understood and respected[.]

This is facially untrue. Salaita’s rants cast a pall over his own ability to respect the academic freedom of his peers and more importantly, of his students, and to teach and to grade in an objective manner. By withdrawing their offer of employment, the U of I was acting to preserve true academic freedom, not the freedom to behave in the manner selected academics deem appropriate.

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