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Thursday, July 2, 2009



Confirmed: 'Palestinian' prof who terrorized students gets tenure at Columbia
Back in April, I reported that Columbia University would 'neither confirm nor deny' that Joseph Massad, a 'Palestinian' professor who was found to have terrorized students who disagreed with him, had been granted tenure by the university. Now, with the students gone for the summer and unable to protest, it has been confirmed that the story broken in April is true. Massad has been granted tenure. And the manner in which it was done smells rotten to the core.

In 2007, months after Massad completed his latest book, a committee rejected his tenure application. Tenure candidates rarely get a second shot at Columbia, but Dirks intervened and pushed for a second committee, sources say.

Oddly, the professor who led the first review of Massad refused to serve again. Even odder, the administration justified the do-over by claiming that Massad had switched his field of specialty from political science to cultural studies.

After the second committee approved Massad, President Lee Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley took extraordinary measures to protect the secrecy of Massad's tenure case and guard against an outcry from Jewish alumni and donors.

The last step in the process was the trustees. The administration refused to share with the trustees any list of who was on the two tenure committees. The board was also kept in the dark as to why Massad failed the first review. Bollinger and Brinkley also refused to discuss in detail why Massad was permitted another shot.

Instead, the administration -- apparently more interested in managing public relations than dealing with the substance of the underlying problem -- simply provided the trustees with a set of talking points with "helpful facts" about the university's Jewish student center.

When I tried contacting trustee Esta Stecher, a senior administration official alerted the board about my inquiries and reminded the trustees that the university doesn't comment on tenure cases.

In the end, Columbia's board of trustees approved Massad's tenure appointment before ever getting answers.

Which raises the question: Just what does a trustee do? Are they merely fund-raisers? Do they view the title as a ceremonial honor? What's the point?

As for Bollinger, one wonders how he allowed his faculty to undermine his authority and the university's reputation.

The promotion of Massad isn't a victory for academic freedom but a cheapening of it. The freedom extended to a Columbia faculty member isn't the same as the rights of a soapbox crank. Protecting free inquiry and valuing scholarship are not mutually exclusive goals, but together define the university ideal.

Unfortunately, academic freedom is long since gone from many campuses around the world. It's been replaced by political correctness. After watching the news out of Tehran for the last couple of weeks, I'm starting to think that there may be more academic freedom on the campuses that spawned the revolution than there is on the campus of my alma mater. How sad.

By the way, Massad doesn't just hate Jews and Israelis:

In a recent work, "Desiring Arabs," Massad claimed to expose yet another plot against the Muslim world -- the "Gay International." He describes how a vast conspiracy of gay activists descended on Arab countries and endangered the lives of "practitioners of same-sex contact" by transforming them into "subjects who identify as 'homosexual' and 'gay.' "

Nor is Massad fond of the women's rights movement, or "colonial feminism," as he calls it. He bristles at the attention paid to the Muslim practice of honor killings, which he likens to "crimes of passion," accusing women's groups of ignoring "rampant Western misogyny."

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