Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"his wrist may not register the slap" 

The president of Columbia University has announced new grievance procedures after the committee investigating the Middle Eastern Studies department had filed its whitewash report. An article in this morning's Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only) reports that the president of the student body and a representative of the David Project, which filmed some of the problems at Columbia, think this is an improvement over what was there. But the Project posted yesterday a sharply critical review of the whitewash.

The report is deeply flawed. It considered only three incidents of professors� harassing students, yet we know of many, many more. It invokes a sort of �professors� omerta� to intimidate dissenting professors, upbraiding whistleblowers who helped students report abuse. The committee turns the tables on the complaining students, giving weight�without any proof�to claims by MEALAC professors that pro-Israel �outsiders� invade classrooms to hector them. Professor Joseph Massad�s colleagues judged him guilty of inappropriate conduct, but chide him so gently��his rhetorical response to her query exceeded commonly accepted bounds�­�that his wrist may not register the slap. At the same time, the committee carefully avoided mentioning the racist screed of Professor Hamid Dabashi, who writes in Al-Ahram that Israelis suffer from �a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture.�

Yes, the report admits the administration was insensitive, even antagonistic to students who complained that anti-Israel professors harassed them. And yes, it found that students have no effective way to register complaints. But the committee reduced what is a major academic scandal�the use of podium as pulpit for an exclusive viewpoint�to only these narrow bureaucratic foul-ups.

Meanwhile, PowerLine has another report which details the whitewashing of Massad by the New York Times. All the better to soothe his wrist, though it doesn't appear he needs it.