The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a watchdog group that monitors infringement of first amendment rights at today’s colleges. Given the level of intimidation on campus and the academic gospel of correct thinking, they certainly have their hands full.
Here’s their mission statement:
The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s increasingly repressive and partisan colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE’s core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.
Of immediate interest to Gates of Vienna is the ongoing saga of Thomas Klocek at DePaul University in Chicago, which has been followed by FIRE. You may remember Klocek as the professor who stopped by the tables of a Muslim student group in the school cafeteria to argue with them about their depiction of Israel and Israelis. Big mistake. Chronwatch reports:
Depaul University is a large, if not particularly renowned academically, Catholic college in Chicago. Until recently the main cause of controversy surrounding Depaul was its insistence on employing notorious anti-Semite Norman Finkelstein as an assistant professor in its political science department. But recently Depaul took a giant step in implementing Orwellism and anti-democratic suppression of political incorrectness on its campus.
The immediate target of Depaul’s campaign against political incorrectness was Thomas Klocek, a part-time adjunct professor at DePaul University’s so-called “School for New Learning”. (“New learning” evidently is not something Depaul confuses with learning, as the events there show.) Klocek’s crime? He was guilty of expressing support for Israel. Evidently Holocaust Denial is ok at Depaul, but not expressing support for Israel.
After 14 years of continuous employment at the Chicago-based college, Klocek was suspended with pay last September, and then stayed suspended – this time without pay – through the winter quarter. Klocek is guilty of nothing more than expressing pro-Israel views in the face of extremist Palestinian propaganda on Depaul’s campus, including students and non-students proliferating the usual lies and canards about Israel and Rachel Corrie. Klocek’s courses have ranged from Critical Thinking to College Writing to Languages and Cultures of the World. By all accounts, he was a popular teacher and his classes were always full.
Here is the precipitating incident, from the Spring of 2005, as reported by the American Thinker:
… Klocek, who is Catholic, not Jewish, confronted a group of 8 students manning two tables for the groups Students for Justice in Palestine, and United Muslims Moving Ahead. Klocek says he argued that the materials the groups were disseminating were one-sided. On this, he is indisputably correct. Neither group pretends to provide balanced information on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That of course, is perfectly understandable and acceptable. These are advocacy groups.
During his cafeteria confrontation with the students, Klocek did not identify himself as a professor at the school. He did not know any of the students, and had not had any of them in a class. After realizing that the argument needed to end, Klocek started to walk off. One student then asked if he taught at DePaul, and if so, what classes. The students followed Klocek, eager to continue arguing with him. He signaled he was done with the debate by thumbing his chin, meant to indicate, he says, enough already. The Muslim students later claimed this gesture was obscene.
For his behavior in this brief debate with the students, Klocek, a popular long-time DePaul professor, has lost his job, his health benefits, and has been smeared and humiliated by the University administration.
It has gotten so bad that Klocek has even been told not to pray at the campus chapel, which he formerly did regularly during his DePaul teaching stint. Such is the retribution of a Catholic University for a [Catholic] professor who has taken the risk of challenging the established mindset at DePaul on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians.
Follow the money, right? Well, at DePaul, it’s oil money, Arab oil money and lots of it:
DePaul University in Chicago is one of the fastest growing universities in the country. It has become the largest Catholic-affiliated university in America. Muslim and Arab students are one of the segments of DePaul’s student population that has seen the greatest increase in numbers in recent years. Although no figures are available, these students are an important source of revenue for the University, and many may well pay full tuition, making their attendance particularly lucrative.
In addition, DePaul is infamous for its hiring of Norman Finkelstein, mentioned above. Got to use that Arab oil money right? Thus Professor Finkelstein appears on the faculty at DePaul, having previously been fired as an adjunct professor by two other colleges in New York —Hunter and NYU — for his “pseudo-scholarship and fraudulent rantings against Jews and Israel.” This sleazy record has not stopped DePaul from hiring him for a tenure-track position. In fact, his support of Holocaust denier, David Irving, may have helped him gain employment at DePaul:
Finkelstein is a disciple of Holocaust Denier David Irving and claims Irving is an authoritative historian. Finkelstein refers to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis as the “Six Million” in quotation marks and says that nearly every Holocaust survivor is a fraud and a thief and a liar. (Finkelstein’s own parents are Holocaust survivors, and Finkelstein has long tried to capitalize on this as a way to legitimize his own anti Semitism.
Finkelstein routinely libels Holocaust survivor, philosopher, and writer Elie Wiesel in scurrilous terms. Finkelstein is the star on every Holocaust Denial neonazi web site on earth, serving as the “Jew who proved there was never any Holocaust.” He has been denounced as a fraud and anti-Semite by Alan Dershowitz, historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Dennis Prager, Professor Omer Bartov, the World Jewish Congress, and just about everyone else on earth, gentile or Jew. The NY Times compared Finkelstein’s book to the old czarist forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion…
So: at DePaul, Finkelstein good, Klocek bad.
In addition to these sins of moral turpitude, DePaul has several other marks against it, which FIRE reports:
And again, from the American Thinker essay, above:
DePaul in fact has gone out of its way in recent years to make the campus dialogue “safe” for Muslim and Arab students. The University administration warned the campus community after the September 11th attacks that offensive speech hostile to Muslims would not be tolerated.
But speech hostile to Jews, or Israelis, or for that matter, the great mass of Americans grieving and offended by the 9/11 attacks, was perfectly legitimate. While New York and Washington were digging up their 3,000 dead, Muslims students at DePaul were using the post 9/11 environment to publicly attack America and Israel for their crimes and policies at campus forums, paid for with student fees. The campus has welcomed representatives of the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad to campus. The scurrilous propaganda “documentary” Jenin Jenin has been shown on campus.
It is fortunate that the blogosphere is following Professor Klocek’s case. The ACLU and The American Association of University Professors have been the “hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil” deaf mutes in this travesty. Nor is the MSM much better. Compare these two reports on the progress of Professor Klocek’s defamation suit against DePaul. First, The Chicago Tribune:
A Cook County Circuit Court judge has ruled that a defamation lawsuit filed by a former DePaul University faculty member can go to trial.
Thomas Klocek, a part-time employee whose specialty was medieval Slavic linguistics, sued the university in June 2005. He claimed that the university breached its employment contract and made defamatory statements about him after he got into a verbal confrontation with members of Muslim and Palestinian groups during a student fair. At the fair, he questioned literature being passed out by Students for Justice in Palestine, which supports the Arab side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Judge Stuart Nudelman dismissed Klocek’s claims of invasion of privacy and public disclosure of private information.
End of story. Klocek is depicted as a “part-time employee” though the usual academic title is “adjunct professor.” See Finkelstein. Nor does it say “part-time employee for the previous fourteen years.” Not fair and balanced enough to give the duration of his employment, perhaps?
Compare that with the report of the same chancery proceeding from The American Thinker on June 1st — the same day as The Tribune’s account:
A defamation suit was filed in Illinois’ Cook County Chancery last June charging that DePaul University and its leadership defamed Professor Thomas Klocek when DePaul publicly characterized arguments he presented to members of Palestinian and Muslim student groups as racist and bigoted. The suit seeks damages against DePaul for maligning Klocek’s integrity and professional competence. The defendants named include: DePaul University; Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul; and Susan Dumbleton, Dean of DePaul’s School for New Learning.
Yesterday, Judge Stuart Nudelman of the Illinois Circuit County Law Division Court agreed that Klocek’s claims have merit, which will allow his suit against DePaul to move forward toward a trial by jury. Klocek’s advocates characterized the Judge’s statements in court this way:
Judge Nudelman believes that DePaul’s actions to discipline Professor Thomas Klocek went to such extreme that their conduct rose to the level of defamation. He noted that DePaul exhibited destructive political correctness when it gave way to its fear of students’ reactions to Prof. Klocek’s challenges to the student groups’ literature and perspective on the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Judge Nudelman also commented that if such limited debate took place when he was a student, it would have resulted in having an inferior educational experience.
Judge Nudelman also stated that DePaul’s public disclosures about Prof. Klocek defamed him in that they denigrated his ability to perform as a professor.
I wish this were an isolated incident about a mediocre college taken from an Orwell novel. But it’s not. Larry Summers’ fate is not much different from Klocek’s, though fortunately, Summers has the money to pay for his own medical care — which Mr. Klocek does not — and as far as we know, Summers has not been banned from the Harvard campus chapel.
These are shameful stops along the way to dhimmitude, folks. That’s why organizations like FIRE exist. You might want to stop by their site and see where your college ranks in the freedom of speech department.