Day By Day

Friday, February 10, 2006

Palestinians vs Jews at Columbia

Martin Kramer reports on continuing intramural conflicts between Jewish and Palestinian scholars at Columbia University. The question this time is whether or not to tenure a Palestinian radical professor who, it is charged, is a Holocaust denier.

Read it here.

The corrupting influence of ethnic enthusiasts, [in this case Zionist and Palestinian, but many other examples could be proffered], in many institutions of higher learning is apparent to anyone who lacks emotional involvement with the issues. But then, it must be admitted, it has always been so in academia. The idealistic view of scholars as disinterested seekers after truth was never an accurate depiction of the academic enterprise. What has changed, though, is that now, in an age of identity politics, even the ideals have been discarded and all we are left with is a cacophony of propagandists.

Some [OK, many] would applaud this development on the grounds that it at least brings a degree of honesty to academic discourse. But, I would argue, such cynical abandonment of ideals removes all constraints and standards, and in the end destroys all scholarly claims to authority.

A noted scholar, who shall remain nameless, once told me in a private conversation that truth and even accuracy don't matter much in academic circles -- "all that counts is how well you dance."


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