Invoking ‘Academic Freedom’ to Silence Debate

Kenneth L. Marcus is executive vice president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and author of Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America. He formerly served as staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.


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The goal of such protests is not merely to disrupt, embarrass, or discomfort Israeli speakers but to silence them. “But ultimately,” as the Arab American News quotes Baydoun, “our goal is to prevent someone like this from even arriving on campus in the first place and we feel confident that we will be able to accomplish this as we continue to spread awareness.”

In this respect, Khaldi’s treatment resembles the so-called Irvine 11’s orchestrated disruption of Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine last year. In that case too, the protesters admitted that their intent was to shut down the pro-Israel side of the debate. Indeed, it is now fair to say that there have been efforts nationwide to prevent university speakers from delivering presentations that deviate from the anti-Israel orthodoxy that reigns on too many campuses.

It is ironic that academia’s self-appointed guardians of academic freedom and freedom of speech do not recognize this concerted effort to squelch one side of the debate. On the contrary, some are all too eager to recognize academic freedom only when it does not apply and to ignore anti-Semitism where it does. Those who support academic freedom should insist that it not be used as a weapon in support of the silencers and against their victims. If they cannot speak out on the right side of this debate, they should at least not join the wrong side.

This op-ed was distributed by Joint Media News Service.

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  • Imam Zubi

    Death to Kent State Islamofascists!

  • theleastthreat

    Isn't the influential Association of American University Professors supposed to be on a mission? I mean, the second invasion of Poland isn't going happen by itself, is it?

  • tagalog

    When it comes the First Amendment and all that, I always thought that universities, of all places, were places where there is a total dedication to CIVIL discourse. After all, the university is not the public square, where things are far more free for all and rough-and-tumble.

    But I'm a product of a university education in an earlier time, what do I know about today's standards?

  • mrbean
  • Dispozadaburka

    When our president sides with the Muslims,
    calls Netanyahu a liar,
    turns against our allies,
    sends weapons to mexican drug cartels,
    you best understand who his enemy is.
    Once he gets re-elected his agenda will Islamisize the world.

  • Beth

    I believe U.S. universities went downhill once 'middle eastern studies' departments were set up – paid mostly for by saudi arabia (according to some reports) – which is a slick act of treason.

    What is the most valuable asset of any nation? It's young – The enemies of America are quite aware of that fact and took advantage of it long ago. Now we are witnessing the results.

  • Matt

    You could go as far as saying that education has slowly morphed into indoctrination with learning being replace by brainwashing. No longer do we see 2 sides to a "story" being presented to an argument.
    Unless you subscribe to the accepted norm, which is rapidly moving further to the left & regardless of how wrong it may be, your out in the cold, so to speak.
    For instance; creationism verses evolution. Any one that believes in creation is viewed as a "kook". Regardless of which is right, both sides should be presented with the pro's & con's of each argument being given equal merit.
    Providing a young & easilly influenced mind to only one side of an argument is a recipe for disaster.
    Chickens coming home to roost, they are!