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Posted on June 24 at 5:10 p.m.
I know you believe you are making an argument, but you really aren't. Ask yourself these questions to see where your thought train went off the rails: How does the Judeocide erase the similarities between the Gaza and Warsaw ghettos? Who said these two cases were exactly the same? Why would Zionists need to have as the ultimate goal of their policies the extermination of the Palestinians before any comparison to Nazis could be legitimate?
Posted on June 24 at 1:06 p.m.
Why did Germans build (eleven miles of) walls around the Warsaw ghetto? Germans needed "livingspace," so they forced Jews off their property into ghettos. Jews didn't appreciate this and various resistance groups, such as Hashomer Hatzair, took the fight to the German occupiers. If asked, many German officers would explain that containing resistance to German aggression (although they probably would explain it that way) necessitated building walls around it. The Germans set up watchtowers and checkpoints to control what went in and came out of the ghetto. There were Jews who dug tunnels under the walls to sneak in supplies and weapons. Occasionally, Jewish militants would leave the ghetto and carry out violent acts of resistance against German targets. In response, Germans periodically entered the ghetto to put down the resistance. Organized Jewish combat teams, such as the Å»ydowska Organizacja Bojowa, fiercely resisted the actions of the vastly superior German military, but in the end the resistance was put down. Had the Jews known their place, the Nazis would no doubt tell us, there would have been little need to do any of this. Indeed, the Germans developed collaborationist rule inside the ghetto to foster hegemonic control over the Jewish people there.
This case, when compared to other cases, illustrates many basic truths about power and domination. Here are two of them: First, those who dominate others recognize that a proportion of the victim population tends to resist domination, so the oppressors have to be prepared to use extraordinary violence. Second, those who dominate others typically rationalize such extraordinary violence by blaming the victim. For example, in North America, when the indigenous populations resisted the encroachment of European settlers on Indian lands, the settlers would respond with overwhelming violence so as a demonstrate to others who might resist colonization the consequence of resistance. When asked why settlers used such overwhelming violence, one often heard the rationalization that the Indians were savages who hated civilized values and civilized people, and therefore the settlers were protecting themselves from the violence nature of Indians by herding them onto reservations and periodically massacring them (sometimes on the reservations). None of this denies the brutal nature American Indian resistance often took or the belief by the settlers that God gave them that land.
"...that's what you get for years of sneaking across the border to murder hundreds of innocent Israelis over the years...."
Posted on June 24 at 1:05 p.m.
"The walls...were erected in order to keep suicide bombers out of Israel...."
You know, like the walls we build around criminals that we call prisons. That way, society is protected from the criminal element. Since every Palestinian has been tried and convicted of terrorist acts against Jews by a court of her peers, it was necessary to construct a vast prison to keep the criminal element under tight control.
Posted on June 23 at 4:26 p.m.
Of course it was expected. This is what course distribution lists are for! Teachers send items from the world media with commentary through their course distribution lists all the time. No student of the modern university can seriously feign surprise at receiving such materials. This is why the attack on Robinson is so disingenuous. This is why Stand With Us dishonestly substitutes the term "class roster" for course distribution list: they know there is nothing untoward about what Robinson did. They disagree with his opinion.
As for tone, it is an accepted pedagogical style to be provocative. There is nothing unusual about a scholar making his opinion known in the classroom. There's nothing wrong with it either. Academic freedom protects the expression of opinions by students and teachers alike.
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Posted on June 22 at 11:31 p.m.
You are mischaracterizing the facts. It was a discussion item, not a graded assignment. It is Robinson's practice to provide informational pieces concerning current events to illustrate concepts presented in class and to stimulate discussion. He one of those teachers who believes it is important to make his subject relevant to students' lives by connecting sociology to real world events. Nobody was required to read the e-mail. Even according to one of the complaining students, Robinson informed her that it was an informational piece and not a required assignment.
Posted on June 22 at 5:27 p.m.
We are way beyond establishing the reality of a double standard regarding criticism of Israel. This case is just one of many that establish that reality. One can openly condemn any other country in world for taking brutal action against virtually defenseless populations without it becoming national news. If in a college classroom today some professor condemned the fascist-like tactics of the Iranian police we will not find them in trouble tomorrow. Calling Ahmadinejad a "Nazi" is commonplace on university campuses, whether deserved or not. Comparing US policy to fascism hardly raises eyebrows in college classrooms.
As for the students who dropped the class, they might have challenged and debated Robinson. If they were fearful of classroom confrontation, they could have used the course distribution list. After all, that is why he distributed the items and commentary to the class in the first place--to provoke discussion. Sadly, something in their cognitive framework told them that censorship and punishment were proper responses to criticisms of Israel, not debate and enlightenment. This is sad because this is the manner in which authoritarians respond to speech with which they disagree, not the behavior of enlightened citizens in a democracy.
However, we may miss the crux of the problem if we only focus on the students. Their complaints should have been met with this simple clarification: "Academic freedom allows for historical comparison in the service of criticisms of state behavior." It's those who pressured the university into an investigation, those university officials who allowed this thing to move forward, and those university officials who are now failing to stop it, who are more centrally at fault.
All Robinson did was use a historical comparison in order to form a criticism of state behavior. There is nothing more basic to historical sociology than the use of case comparison to clarify social structure and dynamics. There can be no historical cases that are disallowed in making comparisons. Nothing is sacred in historical analysis--at least according to the norms of a free and democratic society.
The motive behind the attack on Robinson and academic freedom is transparent. The danger is obvious and extremely serious. All who love freedom should hope the effort fails spectacularly.
Posted on June 20 at 7:15 p.m.
The question is not whether Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza equates exactly to Judeocide. Nobody seriously claims that the context of the Zionist treatment of the Palestinian people is exactly the same as the context of the Nazi response to the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. You are making strawman arguments. Nobody who compares Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the treatment of black Africans by the National Party under Apartheid claims these two cases are exactly the same. Nobody who compares the European genocide of the American Indian claims the context is exactly the same as that of the Great Calamity suffered by the Armenian people 1915-1917.
Accepting the perverse logic of your argument, black South Africans should decry any comparison between Apartheid and other systems of racial separation, since such a comparison denies the unique and incomparable suffering of black South Africans. From your point of view, Apartheid can exist only in its unique geographically-bounded historical moment (South Africa 1948-1994). The same would be said of the Holodomor, right? Any attempt to suggest that a state starving people in any other historical moment bears any resemblance to Soviet behavior 1932-1933 would be denying the Ukrainian people the uniqueness of their suffering, no?
No historical event is sacred from a scientific perspective. For a scientist, Apartheid is a historical manifestation of a category of social behavior that we find in many places and in many times, behavior which the international community now recognizes as immoral and criminal (at least ideally). For the scientist - and for anybody who possesses a universal moral sense rather than a tribal one - acts of violence fall in various categories that guide the comparison of historical cases. There is nothing transcendent about any historical case that exempts it from historical comparison.
Historical comparison is a tool to study economic, political, and social dynamics. It's what social scientists do. All scientists, social and natural, compare events across time to study causal processes. The problem Robinson poses is whether the experience of Jews and the behavior of the Nazis around and in the Warsaw ghetto - the walls, razor-wire fences, watchtowers, checkpoints, routine harassment, periodic military aggressions, massive civilians casualties, targeted assassinations, grooming of collaborators, justificatory rhetoric, and so forth - present any similarities with the experience of Palestinians and the behavior of Zionists in the Gaza ghetto. Based on the evidence, does the comparison help the public understand the way colonial projects operate? Can the one help explain the other? If the destruction of a group of people were in process, could we know it by studying the destruction of other groups of people in history? Could we use that knowledge to build a moment to stop it?
Posted on June 20 at 12:13 p.m.
2+2=5 is an invalid analogy. Demonstrating the falsehood of 2+2=5 does not depend upon any empirical data. The fact of 2+2=4 is a purely logical one, true by definition.
The facts of the Warsaw and Gaza ghettos are, in contrast, the subject to empirical study. Interpretations drawn from comparisons of these facts are, like any interpretation in science, subject to debate. If you disagree with Robinson's interpretation, debate him. Don't censor or punish him.
Here's a valid analogy: Interpretations about the social dynamics underpinning racial segregation in the United States and the racial segregation in South Africa are subject to debate. What we don't do - if we wish to live in a free and open society - is censor or punish professors who compare Jim Crow to Apartheid.
It is ideological to claim that comparing Jim Crow to Apartheid is always false. It is likewise ideological to claim that comparing Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the National Party's treatment of blacks in South Africa is always false. In scientific practice, we do our best to eschew such dogmatic thinking. Science can only be possible if scientists are allowed to interpret the empirical evidence before them. Comparative methodology is an important part of this process.
Posted on June 19 at 8:38 p.m.
I see that Rothstein is still pushing the idea that because the email was sent through the course distribution list it was inappropriate. She seems to think this is the crux of the matter - or at least this is what she wants the public to believe.
Could it be that Rothstein really doesn't understand what a course distribution list is? Is it possible that she doesn't know that the purpose of the course distribution is to distribute materials to students for discussion?
Frankly, I don't believe Rothstein is that ignorant. It's more likely that Rothstein knows what a course distribution list is, but is feigning ignorance to sustain a convenient misperception about the actual purpose of the material in question.
Rothstein knows that the larger population is unfamiliar with course distribution lists, that they think of it as something like a class roster (that's how Rothstein describes it) which Robinson exploits to spread his political views.
So permit me to clear up this misperception. A course distribution list is a electronic database that a university sets up for a course, the purpose of which is to distribute educational materials, for example, media stories for discussion. Students are automatically signed up to the course distribution list. It is part of the course.
The course distribution list is a feature of our modern multimedia classroom experience and is standard on most university campuses. The course distribution list connects the professor to the students and the students to the professor, as well as every student in the class to every other student in the class. Anybody who wants to discuss or debate materials distributed through the course distribution list is free to do so.
The course distribution list allows for more expansive discussion than was possible before its invention, since students can now discuss the topic 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Moreover, students who are shy about speaking up in class - say on controversial political issues - find it much easier to speak up on the course distribution list. Some teachers even require students as part of their discussion grade to submit e-mails through the list.
Let's use an example. Suppose a professor is teaching a sociology class on global issues. Let's call the class "The Sociology of Globalization." Let's imagine that the class is offered in the spring of 2009 and that in the early months of that year a major global event unfolds that may, using historical comparison, reveal underlying social dynamics of colonial projects. This is precisely the sort of event that a sociology course of this character is designed to analyze. The course distribution list allows the professor to send material designed to provoke discussions and debate about this unfolding event.
All Robinson did was use the course distribution list to distribute relevant news items about current global events to his students in a sociology course on global issues.
Posted on June 6 at 10:57 a.m.
Of course, I should clarify, as Campus Watch representatives do, that Campus Watch is not officially associated with Frontpage Magazine or any of Horowitz's ventures. Campus Watch just makes essays from Frontpage available to visitors to its web site. ;)
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