On February 25th, TheTower.org published an article that included screenshots from the Facebook feed of Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at Oberlin. The posts suggested, among other things, that Zionists had been involved in the 9/11 plot, that ISIS was a puppet of Mossad and the C.I.A., and that the Rothschild family owned “your news, the media, your oil, and your government.” The posts did not sit well with everyone at Oberlin, where, weeks earlier, a group of alumni and students had written the president with worries about anti-Semitism on campus; the board of trustees denounced Karega’s Facebook activities. As a teacher, however, she’d been beloved by many students and considered an important faculty advocate for the school’s black undergraduates. The need for allyship became acute. And so, with spring approaching, students and faculty at one of America’s most progressive colleges felt pressured to make an awkward judgment: whether to ally themselves with the black community or whether to ally themselves with the offended Jews.Personally I don't care a fig which side Joy Karega or anybody else takes in the Israeli-Palestinian standoff. But didn't anybody notice that these assertions are simply not true? Even if we agree that academics have an absolute right to their own politics, do they have a right to be flagrantly wrong about important factual questions? Isn't "fidelity to the truth" a value universities should be promoting?
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Politics vs. Scholarship
A side note to Nathan Heller's article on Oberlin concerns the relationship of American politics to the truth. Even in academia, scholarship seems to get short shrift: