On Wednesday morning, shortly after I had finished discussing Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes‘ ‘Path of the Law‘ with my Philosophy of Law students and returned to my office for a quick break (before I headed out again to discuss Hannah Arendt‘s The Human Condition with my Social Philosophy students), I found a rather unwelcome message waiting for me: the David Horowitz Center had put up posters at several sites over Brooklyn College, describing several students and two faculty members (political theorist Corey Robin (Political Science) and myself) as ‘terrorist supporters.’ Similar posters, naming other faculty members and students have appeared at other universities this past week. The posters have been designed to mimic ‘Wanted’ posters; here is one of them (the names of students have been blurred out to protect their identity):
The David Horowitz Center, which was named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, imagines that by indulging in this kind of libelous hate speech, it will cow down those who dare to express political opinions contrary to its chosen line; in this case, speaking up on any matter related to the Israel-Palestine dispute. The Horowitz Center, which is apparently manned by intellectual pipsqueaks incapable of constructing a coherent thought or sentence, has taken its cues from the McCartheyesque Canary Mission–which in turn maintains a ‘blacklist’ of professors at American universities it does not like. (In a post earlier this year, I had made note of their risible attempts at intimidation; that includes tweeting out my photo and their blacklist page on me every few months, which then exposes me to abuse on Twitter from right-wing nutjobs.)
There is much to object to in this latest Goebbelsian attempt to introduce a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech and academic freedom on campuses–of faculty and students alike:
- As usual, the ‘third rail’ of political discourse on American campuses is disclosed: speaking on matters related to Israel-Palestine–no matter how tangentially–remains verboten. (Corey Robin has often been abused–in anti-Semitic language!–for his writings in the past, thus showing that what is really operative here is hate.)
- Students of color have been named, thus exposing them to potential employment and legal problems with skittish employers and overzealous law enforcement officers.
- Faculty members who seek future employment will almost certainly fail to do so because of skittish donors and university administration.
- Finally, in the current political atmosphere, such charges, if repeated time and again, will almost certainly stick, with incalculable damage to all thus slandered and libeled.
Here are links to the posts on this blog that have so irked the moral reprobates at the David Horowitz Center and the Canary Mission:
Perhaps the folks at these sites were also offended by the fact that I dared protest the Israeli bombing of Gaza in 2014–for which I spent a few hours in a prison cell along with Corey Robin.
I stand by these posts and by my actions.
Note: I have written to Brooklyn College administration suggesting that legal action be taken against the David Horowitz Center for indulging in libel and defamation.