CUNY Caves to Leftist Pressure on Tony Kushner

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Yet Mr. Koch undoubtedly recognized the pitfalls of supporting Weisenfeld publicly. The union representing the CUNY faculty also called for Mr. Weisenfeld’s resignation, along with “Mr. Kushner’s fellow artists, his supporters, university professors and civil libertarians,” according to the New York Times. Union leader Dr. Bar­bara Bowen said Wiesen­feld “has abused his posi­tion as CUNY Trustee on numer­ous occasions. He should resign imme­di­ately and the trustee selec­tion process should be reformed so that the Board is com­posed of qual­i­fied peo­ple with gen­uine exper­tise in higher edu­ca­tion…”  Ellen Schrecker, Yeshiva University history professor, and American Communist party (CPUSA) apologist, wrote a letter to Schmidt saying she cannot “remain silent when the institution that once recognized the value of academic freedom now demeans it,” adding that she planned to return her own CUNY honorary degree. Marxist mouthpiece Barbara Ehrenreich said she planned to do the same. Karen Kaplowitz, the head of the John Jay faculty committee which nominated Kushner, claimed she was “mortified” that Kushner had been treated with “such disrespect.”

Yet it is the nomination of Kushner which yields the most telling clues as to the genesis of leftist indignation regarding the board’s original decision. Kushner was nominated for the honorary degree by two professors, one of whom was Dr. Michael Meeropol. Meeropol is the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were tried, convicted and executed for spying against the United States. Both Meeropol and Kushner are on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, a radically anti-Israel organization which equates Palestinian terrorism with Israeli self-defense. Meeropol is currently a visiting professor of economics at John Jay College.

Each piece of vitriol directed at Mr. Weisenfeld is part of a mosaic designed, not only to silence anyone who would dare to point out the litany of reprehensible Israel-demonizing statements made by Mr. Kushner himself, chronicled in my previous column on the subject, but to chill potential criticism of Israel demonization in the future. Mr. Weisenfeld, who made it clear to me he has “every intention of serving until June 30th 2013,” explained that he “can’t imagine anyone as stupid as I am to rise up and take a [pro-Israel] position unless there’s a change of paradigm from Jewish leaders to enable it to happen.”

But perhaps there is a glimmer of hope. A letter reportedly hand-delivered Monday to each member of the board of trustees signed by “Members, Association of CUNY Alumni and Retirees” decries the “character assassination” of Mr. Weisenfeld, and asks the board to “initiate an investigation into the assault on Jews at the City University, disguised as anti-Israelism[.]” If the board ignores the request, the writers will make sure that “CUNY alumni are apprised of recent events and are exhorted to reconsider donations to their alma maters,” and “Jewish graduates and others of good will are apprised that the colleges which were once their homes, [but] are no longer welcoming to supporters of Israel.”  The final sentence of the letter says it all: “We will not sit by idly and allow this cancer to continue to grow.”

Unfortunately the “cancer” is not yet in remission. Mr. Kushner will get his degree, and leftists, aptly described by columnist Daniel Greenfield as people who want to “storm the barricades and then break off for a meal at a five star restaurant,” will have their sanctimoniousness satisfied. But it remains to be seen whether their retributive campaign against a defender of Israel — for the crime of opposing the veneration of a radical anti-Israel propagandist — will be assuaged.

Arnold Ahlert is a contributor to the conservative website


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  • Tziona

    What amazes me about this story is the sense of entitlement Kushner's supporters show to what is ostensibly a honor, it seems they feel he should be honored merely because he was nominated. Surely, if it is the trustees role to decide yeah or nay, then that's the end of it – a nomination is not an award. And an honor is not a right.

  • enoughalready

    Maybe these people could learn a lesson from the students at LSU. Just because you have the right of creative freedom and expression doesn't mean you should be rewarded…especially if it is a perversion of the facts and breeds racial tension and fear. People (as with Mr. Weisenfeld) have a right to say they find the material offensive..that is his right. With radical Liberals and Communists, the road only runs one way.

  • BS77

    liberals honoring liberals….oooohhhh wheeeee… honorary degree. Who cares? It's worthless anyway… Kushner……another leftist nut case.

  • zsqpwxxeh

    CUNY caves? Who would have expected it? Let's rally round the Rosenbergs, rally once again, shouting the Battle Cry of Jihad.

  • Supreme_Galooty

    BS77, you stole my Thunder, for if CCNY were to attempt conferring an honorary degree on me I would be laughing until my sides ached. We can all be spared this ignominious spectacle, however, since they have never HEARD of the Supreme Galooty – and that's a good thing.

    But as they re-write history while stewing in their intellectually inbred juices, they pose a palpable danger to the unwary, and their academic freedom should be brought into question on an ongoing basis.

  • Steve Chavez

    What happens when you're at the checkout counter and a little brat is crying ahead of you for the toy they didn't get? Do the parents give in knowing that the brat will just throw a fit to get their way or do they let the brat cry all they want, leave the store, and then the brat realizes that the fit didn't work? By giving in, you are then encouraging and guaranteeing a repeat of the screaming. It's typical animal behavior that the Dog Whisperer is famous for correcting!

    Then the next time you go to the store, you warn them that if they plan on throwing a fit, they should stay home or will immediately return home if they do!

    By CUNY giving in to crybabies, they can guarantee that the crybabies have learned that they just need to throw a fit to get their way!!!

    • akbass

      Exactly……and Leftist crybabies of every stripe have been employing the tactic for decades.

  • Jack

    I'm a CUNY graduate. Next time they ask for a donation I'll know what to tell them.

  • Sam B.

    When these latter-day academics cry Mcarthyism, they were either too young, or not even born when MCarthy was abroad. They've never suffered from anything similar to Mcarthism. If anything, these are latter-day McCarthy's themselves. They rid rhemselves of those who might be courageous enough to challenge their Islam-loving, Israel hating, Jew hating universe. Read the Nation, their holy periodical, that same "liberal;" magazine that defended Stalin's purge trials. But that was long ago and far away, and most of its readers probably aren;t even aware of that bit of history.

  • Larry

    Dr. M. Goldstein, Chancellor of CUNY, stated and I quote him, "Mr. Kushner's extraordinary body of work and enormous artistic contributions should be recognized by this University".
    Dr. Goldstein would use this same illogical reasoning to award Adolph Hitler an honorary degree from CUNY.
    As much as I hate using the term Mr. Kushner is no more than more a self-hating Jew.
    As for Dr. Goldstein he should hang his head in shame.