Go Blue! U-M tells the thugs to push off

Posted in academic freedom, University of Michigan by Deputy city editor on October 25, 2007

The university finally scores a knock-out

Even the deeply cynical cannot but think that the U-M has in the end given not an inch.

The university has in fact acquitted itself well resisting the assault by those who decided that Joel Kovel’s book Overcoming Zionism was “hate speech” and that Kovel was a “racist.”

The university began in a panic. It initially withdrew the book, with Philip Pochoda, the director of the press ,describing it as “hate speech,” although refusing to defend this claim in public.

It quickly became apparent that the executive board of the press was not going to stand by its confused director. Finally, after much agonising, the university has said exactly the right thing: that this is just one of many distribution contracts the university has with other publishers, and it would continue.

It was true that there was no settled polcy on these distribution deals and so there would now be one, but in which the principle of academic freedom remained paramount.

Now what? Obviously, Pochoda must go, after his intemperate email to Joel Kovel.

Is the assault on the University over? One doubts it. It is still good to have stood up to bullies.

This is a heavy defeat for a shape-shifting group that has decided that any criticism of Zionism is racism.

Their totalitarian idea is to exclude from the discussion any “racist” who does not accept a priori the idea of Zion.

For the university to take sides in this dispute would have been a terrible precedent. The university took its sweet time coming up with a statement that in the end, seems to say all the right things. So the criticism is: why did it take so long?


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