Saturday, February 06, 2021

I've Been 'Canceled' Because of My PJ Media Articles


An open letter published by the McGill Student Society cited my publications in PJ Media and demanded that McGill University cancel me. More specifically, the society demanded that my status as Emeritus Professor of Anthropology be revoked. This letter was signed by the McGill Student society, anthropology undergraduate and graduate societies, four student Middle Eastern and Islamic groups, and a black student group.

The open letter targeted a more general policy, that of academic freedom. The view expressed in the open letter is that academic freedom should not allow opinions that the signatories disagree with or facts that they might find uncongenial. The signatories believe that they should be the arbiters of what may be thought, said, and written. This is an ambitious role for students to claim, rather akin to a ministry of truth in a closed, Soviet, or Maoist dictatorship.

The open letter takes particular exception to one of my PJ Media articles:

In one recent example [originally published in PJMedia], Salzman goes on to write that “the Middle East is a place where doing harm and being cruel to others is regarded as a virtue and a duty.” …

The open letter does not take issue with the truth of the offending statement, or offer argument and evidence attempting to show that it is incorrect, but the letter’s authors limit their efforts to calling me names—“racist” and “Islamophobic”—about an article in which neither race nor Islam were mentioned. In other words, there is no attempt to engage in academic or even common civil discourse to ascertain truth, because truth is not of interest to the students; as far as they are concerned, only their feelings count.

Unlike most of these student signatories, including the ones from Middle Eastern and Islamic families, I have spent considerable time living in the Middle East, much of it engaged in ethnographic research in the desert with tribal peoples. My concern about the violence in the Middle East might be taken by fair-minded readers as an admirable, humanitarian concern. It seems likely that many of the McGill student signatories are from families that left the Middle East and brought their children to Canada in order to have a safer and more secure, as well as a freer and more prosperous life. These students do not appear to have learned the lesson of their emigration, or the values of the country to which they immigrated.

Let’s just stick to recent events. There is the on-and-off war between Turkey, Iraq, and Iran against their Kurdish citizens, the war against Middle Eastern Christians, Baha’i, Yazidi, and other minorities, and, most egregious, the fanatical Islamic State and its maximal brutality, from capturing Yazidi girls and women, gang-raping them, selling them as sex slaves, and then murdering them; to beheading prisoners; to burning alive opposition soldiers. Finally, there is the Syrian war, whether seen as a war of the government against its citizens, or a civil war inspired by Sunni-Shia conflict, in which up to a half-million people—men, women, children, the elderly—died of bullets, bombs, exposure, or starvation.

Perhaps the McGill Middle Eastern and Muslim students do not see any of this as cruelty and harm. Perhaps they are fine with it. Then they should tell us exactly what this is, and how they justify it other than trying to blame someone else.

Students, encouraged by their Marxist and neo-Marxist professors, and by university policies of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” that privilege students from some minorities, have become America’s and Canada’s Maoist Red Guard, upholding the official lies by attacking fellow students and professors who do not endorse extremist views in order to silence and destroy them. No unwelcome opinions are tolerated, and no discussion of difficult questions allowed. This is no less than the death of the Enlightenment academic tradition and its replacement with far-left Marxist and far-right Islamist propaganda.

Recently many academics have been “canceled,” losing their posts, salaries, and even careers for expressing an opinion or even saying a word that some students and professors found objectionable. In my case, the McGill Red Guard was foiled. Strong support for academic freedom and for myself was provided by the Canadian Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship through letters to the University and to the student signatories, the American National Association of Scholars in an international petition, and the British Free Speech Union in another international petition, as well as letters and articles from a number of colleagues.

In the end, McGill affirmed its commitment to academic freedom, saying that “no single idea, argument, word, or work is ‘prohibited’ at McGill.” Regarding the student demands that my emeritus status be revoked, McGill stated that “Although ‘emeritus’ status may be revoked for misconduct, that term refers to misconduct as defined by the regulations and policies that apply to tenure-track and tenured academic staff. The exercise of academic freedom or freedom of expression, within the boundaries acknowledged by law, is not misconduct under those regulations and policies.” I am an Emeritus Professor still.

Top New York Times reporter RESIGNS and apologizes for 'extraordinarily bad judgement' over his use of the N-word in a question

A top New York Times reporter has resigned and apologized for his 'extraordinarily bad judgement' over his use of the N-word after 150 staffers wrote a letter to bosses citing new allegations of 'bias against people of color' and slamming the paper's handling of the incident.

In a letter to staff Friday, Donald McNeil Jr. announced he was standing down from the paper after 45 years saying he 'originally thought the context in which I used this ugly word could be defended' but now realized 'it cannot.'

Top bosses had previously said he should be 'given another chance' saying McNeil hadn't used the word with 'malicious or hateful intent' but also changed tack Friday telling staff 'we do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent.'

The ousting of the man who was the paper's star COVID-19 reporter came after a group of staff sent a letter to the executive leadership Wednesday stating they were 'deeply disturbed' by the paper's lack of action and demanding a full investigation into 'newly surfaced complaints' against him.

The veteran journalist described the 2019 incident saying he said the N-word when asked by one of the students whether he believed a classmate should be suspended for using the racist slur.

'On a 2019 New York Times trip to Peru for high school students, I was asked at dinner by a student whether I thought a classmate of hers should have been suspended for a video she had made as a 12-year-old in which she used a racial slur,' he said, according to the Washington Post which obtained a copy of the note.

'To understand what was in the video, I asked if she had called someone else the slur or whether she was rapping or quoting a book title. In asking the question, I used the slur itself.'

He extended his 'sincerest apology' to the students on the trip as well as his colleagues who he said he 'let down.'

'For offending my colleagues - and for anything I've done to hurt The Times, which is an institution I love and whose mission I believe in and try to serve - I am sorry.




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