it's being reported that the university of st. thomas (the one in st. paul, minnesota) cancelled a talk by archbishop desmond tutu in response to false allegations of anti-semitism. if this is true, it is consistent with an accelerated trend of attacks on the leftist presence in academia and academic fora by the extreme right. here's a recap of some of the latest.
- erwin chemerinsky, one of the leading constitutional scholars in the US, was offered the deanship of the new law school at UC irvine, and accepted about a week before the offer was revoked. the evidence strongly suggests that it was behind-the-scenes campaigning by right-wing lawyers not affiliated with the university that led to the offer being withdrawn. it now appears likely, in part to to the outrage expressed by law faculty of all political stripes, that the offer will be reinstated and the chancellor of the irvine campus might have to leave instead.
- norman finkelstein was denied tenure at depaul, despite being unquestionably qualified. he had been the target of a campaign led by alan dershowitz, an academic of much fame but no distinction, whose writings in finkelstein's field - the history and politics of the israel-palestine conflict - are utterly idiotic. the evidence suggests that it was political pressure from outsiders that led to depaul's decision. mehrene larudee, another depaul faculty member considered for tenure (and a umass alum), was denied tenure as well. She, too, was considered a strong academic and a slam-dunk for tenure, but as a strong supporter of finkelstein she too was undoubtedly targeted for denial of tenure for reasons other than merit. finkelstein was later denied the customary year of teaching that follows tenure denial, ostensibly - but not especially plausibly - for conduct issues. He recently reached a settlement with the depaul administration and resigned.
- ward churchill, a leading native american scholar and a tenured professor at the university of
colorado boulder, was fired, ostensibly for academic misconduct. it is well-understood, however, that he was in reality fired because of a fascist campaign.
- andrew card, a man closely associated with the war crimes of the bush regime was awarded an honorary degree at the umass amherst commencement last may. there is no direct evidence of this being the result of a right-wing campaign, but it is a plausible hypothesis, given that he has no accomplishments to speak of, and umass leaders would have understood very well the loss of credibility that comes with honoring terrorists like card.
- brandeis university invited jimmy carter to speak about israeli apartheid - but only if torture enthusiast alan dershowitz was allowed a rebuttal. eventually, they relented somewhat, allowing separate but consecutive talks.
UPDATE (Oct. 10): st. thomas reversed its earlier decision. apparently the attack on tutu was too much even for the extremists at the ADL.