Sunday, February 03, 2013

Corey Robin on FB (reprinted with permission) addresses the speech-provoking aspect:
One of the things that amazes me in this whole brouhaha over the BDS event at Brooklyn College is that critics of the event claim it shuts down speech, it silences defenders of Israel, etc. Yet in the past two days I've had more conversations with defenders of Israel on campus, more conversations about Israel in general, and more conversations -- and arguments, in which multiple views are aired -- about BDS. Two weeks ago almost no one on campus was talking about any of this; now everyone is. So remind me how this event shuts down speech?
Robin limits himself to the subject of academic freedom and free speech. In a comment at CT, he links to Chris Hayes:  "No time to get into all this; Chris Hayes did an unbelievably powerful segment on this story this morning. Very strong."

What should you know for the week coming up?  Well, you should know that right now there's an organized campaign from a who's who list of prominent and powerful NY politicians, including members of congress, state legislators and mayoral candidates to do everything in their power to stop the horrifying possibility of [pause] a college holding a panel discussion of a controversial issue. No. Really.   
You should know a group of Brooklyn College students organized an even to discuss the The Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions movement, which is an attempt by activists here and around the world to pressure Israel to end its settlements and occupation through organized boycotts international sanctions and divestments, modeled on those directed at South Africa during apartheid. You should know a whole lot of people, understandably, find any comparison to South Africa offensive. And I myself genuinely wrestle with the justness and efficacy of the BDS movement. But of course the entire point of academic freedom is to discuss ideas that may be held in contempt by the political main stream.[sic]
"Very strong."  "The White Moderate",  "Twilight of the Elites"

The history of CT on academic freedom is of course as bad, one way or the other, as it is on free speech.

Nadler et al.
As a matter of practical politics. or actual politics, the department should fold and invite someone else, even Dershowitz.  The issues are to important to leave to academics. Make it a public forum.

note taking/ posted elsewhere
Should this be a discussion of academic freedom or of BDS and Zionism?
Which is more important? I’m more than a bit disgusted that academics who privately disdain Zionism now revert to passive aggressive defenses of academic freedom while refusing in public to engage the substance of the larger debate. 
Nadler et al are asking for the department to withdraw sponsorship, or invite someone opposed. The department has precedent on it’s side and should make that clear. It wins that argument hands down. 
But there are 1.5 million Jews in NY, including many families of Holocaust survivors. Most of them are Zionist. Politics is bigger than academia, but I’m used to hearing defenses of academic freedom based on the fact that it predates free speech. And more and more often now I’m reading academic arguments against free speech itself.  All obscene. 
Find a larger venue. Invite Dershowitz; invite the public; and bring your A game. Get someone better than Judith Butler.
Robin quoting Arendt is a smart move as a matter of practical politics: don't quote an angry black man to a white moderate when you can quote a quote a white reformer. Unfortunately that's not why he did it.  Zionism is his touchstone; he can't think with/through/by way of the Nakba.  The only parallel for a white man angrily and insistently quoting black leaders about race relations in the US would be for him to be just as insistent in quoting Palestinians about relations in Israel.  He's never done because he can't.  See also the comments on his own page. Robin seems to know very little about the place of fascism as idea or as sensibility in the first half of the 20th century.  One more who can't read for subtext, in books or in his own behavior.

Atrios: "Never quite been able to fully comprehend sports fandom";"I like Hillary Clinton"; "David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom…"  The blankness of the first explains the blankness of the second and third. The American, modern, unironic sense of self. Curiosity without second order curiosity.  I hate these assholes.

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