According to the Chicago Tribune Today might be the day that the DePaul university tenure committee makes its ruling on whether or not Profession Norman Finkelstein is granted tenure. If they do rule, then it will one of the few things that Tribune reporter Ron Grossman got right in the story he wrote for today’s paper.
By Ron Grossman
Tribune staff reporter
Published May 11, 2007 A tenure committee at DePaul University may weigh in Friday on a donnybrook that has been waged with a combination of learned footnotes and body-blow rhetoric, a fight reverberating across the nation and beyond academia.
Norman Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science, wants tenure at the North Side institution. His detractors say he uses his academic post as a political pulpit from which to bash Israel. His supporters say Jewish organizations want to silence legitimate criticism of the Jewish state.
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OK I will admit that he has the supporters complaint right, but he is all wrong about his detractors reasoning. His detractors reasoning rests on the fact that his scholarly work is vindictive, mean spirited and most important just plain lousy.
There is nothing scholarly about his writings. Although he claims to be a “forensic scholar,” he limits his defamations to one ideological group and never applies his so-called “forensic” tools to his own work or to those who share his ideological perspective. One does not deserve the title of “forensic scholar” unless he is prepared to apply that science equally across the board. Finkelstein merely uses forensic tools available to any first-year college student to defame his ideological enemies. That is not forensic scholarship; it is propaganda. And he uses the imprimatur of whatever university affiliation he currently enjoys in order to try to bestow a seemingly-academic pedigree on his demonstrable lies. Unlike some other academics, who try to distinguish their scholarly work from their polemical writing, Finkelstein always uses his academic title, even in his most extreme polemical writing, such as the one accompanying the cartoon, attached and discussed below. Clearly he is trying to use the fine reputation of DePaul University to lend credibility to his otherwise discredited work.-Alan Dershowitz’s response to DePaul Dean’ request for an opinion.
His most vocal critic, Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, threatened to sue one of Finkelstein’s publishers for libel [true when Finkelstein out of the blue wrote a book calling Dershowitz a plagiarizer-there was no “feud” before then] . Finkelstein reportedly threatened to sue DePaul colleagues who vote against his promotion. Finkelstein’s mentor, famed linguist Noam Chomsky, calls the case “scandalous.”
Now, under the secrecy that cloaks decisions about whether professors are granted tenure, Finkelstein’s bosses and colleagues must decide how far academic freedom extends and where its abuse begins.
This is not about academic freedom…this is about should a academic claiming to use the scientific method to create his works be allowed to tell mean spirited lies in those works. A Few months ago, everyone was appalled at Iran’s Holocaust Conference, this guy wrote a entire book on the topic of how Jews exaggerate the Shoah for their own narcissistic uses.
Finkelstein has called efforts to get compensation for Holocaust victims from Germany a “shakedown.” He labels leaders of Jewish organizations “Holocaust-mongers.”
Contending the number of survivors has been inflated to scoop up more money, Finkelstein in one book recollects the words of his mother, herself a prisoner of the Nazis: ‘If everybody who claims to be a survivor actually is one,’ my mother used to exclaim, ‘who did Hitler kill?’
Finkelstein has called Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Prize-winner Elie Wiesel the “resident clown” of the “Holocaust circus.”
Thats not academic freedom, thats bigotry in the name of science.
Chomsky and other Finkelstein supporters have said that his record of publications qualifies him for tenure. If tenure is denied, they say, the burden is on the university to show it is not bowing to outside pressure.
Well if the number of times you publish gets you tenure…Hey guys I publish 4-5 times a day.
The pros and cons will wind up on the desk of De Paul’s president, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, whose own administration seems conflicted.
In an internal report now circulating on the Internet, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chuck Suchar, writes that Finkelstein’s style is inconsistent with “DePaul’s Vincentian values,” including respect for “the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions.”
Holtschneider denied a comparison between Klocek and Finkelstein, writing in an e-mail that he hoped “DePaul’s longstanding friends in the Jewish community” would see the need for a scholar to speak freely.
“We have learned throughout history that the greater good is served when all people are allowed to express an opinion,” Holtschneider wrote.
I believe that teaching is the most important career in this society. . For every Einstein and Salk there is a “Mrs. MacGilochochy” who got them interested in science. We remember Socrates, Plato and Aristotle for their great minds–but also because Socrates taught Plato taught Aristotle and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great.
Despite the importance of Academics it has become this strange protective world that harms the pursuit of truth (Its also the most political cut throat business I have ever witnessed).
This short term goal major goal that around five years into your career called tenure is unseen in the business world—once you get it, unless you shoot a kid or something like that, you have a guaranteed job for life. If you don’t get tenure, in most cases, you have to change jobs.
The original goal of tenure was to keep political pressure off of the professors backs freeing them to teach the truth. In many cases college campuses they have perverted that quest for truth into “academic freedom” a sort of first amendment right to “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Professors ZEALOUSLY guard that “academic freedom” to a fault. It protects their lifetime jobs—but sadly in many cases it does not protect the truth.
Universities have prided themselves in hiring teachers with a diversity of opinions. This college diversity of opinion should includes those who teach based on the truth but not those who distort the truth like Norman Finkelstein. That my friends is the issue revolving around Norman Finkelstein–his teaching methods have nothing to do with academic freedom, it is precisely the pure political propaganda that tenure was designed to avoid.