Skip to comments.DePaul's disgrace
Posted on 10/12/2006 5:36:50 PM PDT by Land_of_Lincoln_John
Please, I don't mean to offend anyone. But the Catholic college and university is not one of the faith's big achievements in America. Look at any one of the ratings charts (there are many) and see how low these institutions fare on the competitive scales and how few of them rate at all. It's true that there are two or three Catholic law schools in the middle range. But that's it. Catholic institutions certainly haven't made a mark in the life or physical sciences, or, for that matter, the social sciences either. Of course, denominational schools have it especially hard when the great elite institutions--also mostly church-based in origin--no longer discriminate against anyone and, in fact, compete ferociously for students and faculty from wherever they come.
So when the largest Catholic university in the country--that's how DePaul advertises itself--makes itself victim to its own fashionable left-wing politics, one almost begins to yearn for fascists like Father Coughlin and McCarthyite right-wingers like Cardinal Spellman. At least, then, we were dealing with a recognizable Catholic tradition. Now, I know that from St. Peter's Square to urbi et orbi, the Church has been reforming itself in doctrine and in behavior, especially with historic reference to the Jewish people now seen, from John XXIII on, as the older brother of the Roman communion. And it also has begun to confront the complicity of the Church leading up to the Jewish catastrophe and in the catastrophe itself. (See Daniel Goldhagen's article "Hide and Seek," in the January 31, 2005 issue of TNR.) For years, the existence of the State of Israel was a theological quagmire for Catholic theologians and for the Vatican itself. But, with some hiccups, the vicarage of Christ has come to grips with the reality of Israel that one pious and learned lay person, ironically someone close to Pius XII, said was the greatest evidence for God's existence in modernity.
Ironically, in two separate but unethically connected acts exemplifying utter contempt for what academic freedom really means and focusing on the existence of Israel and the historicity of the Holocaust, DePaul has shown itself to be an institutional panderer to and of left-wing anti-Semitism. This is not a virus. It is altogether visible and audible. It does not hide its hatreds, and this is because the anti-Semites think that there is a reservoir of solidarity that can be easily tapped in the American public. They are wrong. Still, believe me, right now, anti-Semitism in America and in Europe is a phenomenon of the Left. Not of the Right. (Before too long, the Democratic Party will have to confront this reality and drive it out of the liberal tent, from Jimmy Carter to Michael Moore to well, let's just watch.)
The first case involves Thomas Klocek, who for 14 years was a DePaul "adjunct instructor" at the School for New Learning (as opposed, I gather, from the "old learning"), one of those academic indentured servants who now make up perhaps 50 percent of faculty in higher education, people usually without offices, benefits, job safety, and status. He was suspended from his job and then dismissed without so much as a hearing for hurting the feelings of some Palestinian students, not his students and not in his class but at a campus cafeteria where members of Students for Justice in Palestine and United Muslims Moving Ahead had set up two tables with leaflets. Klocek, a pious Catholic, confronted the people at the table saying that their materials were distorted. An angry confrontation ensued, during which Klocek quoted the director of Al Arabiya TV as stating, "While not all Muslims are terrorists, it is a sad fact that almost all terrorists are Muslims." This, alas, is an indisputable fact, as clearly Pope Benedict grasps. Would the Holy Father be permitted to speak at DePaul? Yet a simple truth was grounds for Klocek's dismissal. Another statement Klocek uttered that led to his firing was that "Palestinian" is a "twentieth-century construction." It certainly isn't a nineteenth-century construction or an eighth-century one, either. This is true for the peoples of the entire Arab world, save for Egypt. And, to those who lay claim to be members of the Iraqi nation or the Lebanese nation (or, for that matter, the Palestinian nation) I, we ask: When will you behave as a nation? Your nationhood is in your hands.
The second case revolves around Norman Finkelstein who, a quarter century after getting his PhD and after having taught at Hunter and Brooklyn Colleges and New York University, is not an assistant professor of political science at DePaul. This is a stunning instance of downward mobility. Richly deserved. But no students deserve to be under the tutelage of Finkelstein. His initial appointment and now his pending designation as tenured professor have been supported on the grounds of academic freedom. This makes an at best flawed process--forgive the Catholic terminology--the equivalent of a papal bull. In fact, a papal bull would encounter more discussion and objections among faithful Catholics then Finkelstein's supporters would permit his scholarly critics. The fact is that Finkelstein is not a scholar. He is a nut case. There are many contentious issues in Holocaust history. But he is a Holocaust denier. That is like denying that slavery existed in America and that the economy of the South was based on slavery. Someone who denied this would not get a faculty appointment, and, if he did, one would think it much more than odd and the academics who made the appointment either stupid or malevolent. This would not be a process that could or should be defended on the grounds of academic freedom. An appointment certified by a department chair and a university president may still be intellectually preposterous. If you want to get more information on both the Klocek and Finkelstein cases just search for them on Google, 14,000 and 900,000 citations, respectively.
Finkelstein has his own website: normanfinkelstein.com. On it he posts vicious cartoons by Carlos Latuff. Here is one called "Dershowitz Hard at Work...." (See below) In it, Alan Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard, is shown masturbating before a cartoon TV visual of destruction in Beirut, Lebanon. This is the kind of scholarship that Finkelstein produces and with which he associates.
I don't want to make too much of this. But I've scanned the DePaul website. There's no one on the faculty of whom I've heard. Maybe that is a failing of mine. Maybe there are wonderful scholars in the woodwork of the place, so to speak. But I have heard of Norman Finkelstein, this assistant professor at 53, and he fills me with disgust. Anyway, why do you think no other academic institution is considering him for tenure? After all, he has got lots of books to his name. They are junk, that's why.
Note: the link to the cartoon is quite graphic and NOT SAFE FOR WORK! If you must, here it is:
Thanks for the post. Honestly, I like to read Martin Peretz, and I hope we'll see more of his work at FR.
YW. I hesitated in posting this because I thougth New Republic might've told JimRob "No thanks" as far as posting their articles here.
The school has really changed in the past fifteen years.
Peretz is a good writer. But honestly, dumping on the twisted politics of US universities is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Received my law degree from there in 1982. I have not given them a red cent since I heard about these two "glittering examples of colossal ignorance", as Rush Limbaugh might say.
"But the Catholic college and university is not one of the faith's big achievements in America. Look at any one of the ratings charts (there are many) and see how low these institutions fare on the competitive scales and how few of them rate at all."
I take issue with his premise above.
Notre Dame, Georgetown, Boston College are top 50 among national universities (on a list filled otherwise with the Ivies and taxpayer funded state schools).
About his law school comment, Georgetown, Boston COllege, Notre Dame, Fordham are all top 50.
His premise that Catholic universities are not a big success for American Catholicism is hogwash -- many of them did not suck at the public teat like other universities for many years so came late to the public funding game, and Catholics were not a wealthy group in American society until the last 50 years, thus meaning that the endowment funds of Catholic universities didn't have time to grow like the Ivies did.
Plus, many Catholic universities have taken an "education first, research second" position consistent with Catholic moral teaching, hence they don't score up top.
And I think we can all agree that DePaul is and long has been among the most liberal of nominally Catholic universities and does not stand as a shining example of Catholic education in America.