Blogs > HNN > Open Letter to the DePaul Administration regarding the denial of tenure of professor Norman Finkelstein

Jun 18, 2007 5:43 pm

Open Letter to the DePaul Administration regarding the denial of tenure of professor Norman Finkelstein

This email is to inform your administration of my utter disgust at the denial of tenure of Norman Finkelstein. I have known professor Finkelstein for almost fifteen years and--unlike your President--am actually familiar with his work, and as a scholar of the history of the middle east, qualified to judge it. As someone who is also the product of a Catholic education, I am especially offended at this immoral and utterly politically motivated action, which goes against the principles of intellectual honesty, courage and integrity that I was taught were the foundations of a proper Catholic education. It is certainly a shameful stain, and a mark of cowardice, particularly compared with the brave stand of the administration of Notre Dame in its invitation to Tariq Ramadan to fill a prestigious professorship despite the similarly risible attacks on his scholarship and character by many of the same academic hacks who've gone after Finkelstein.

Your President and Dean have committed a grave breach of their professional and ethical duties, and in so doing have threatened the foundations of academic freedom across the United States, enabling other right wing demagogues who would like to silence any form of dissent, however based in fact it might be, because it challenges their power and prestige. That they have done so even as American servicemen and women continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan based on wholesale lies perpetrated by the same people behind the attacks on prof. Finkelstein's integrity as a scholar is especially disgraceful, and a violation of most every principle of Christian ethics I have come across.

Please know that this action will not go unanswered, at least by me, and I know many colleagues across the country and around the world who feel the same way. In good conscience I can no longer recommend another student apply to a graduate program at DePaul; for what university to which a newly minted Ph.D. might apply for a job would take seriously a Ph.D. from an institution that fires scholars in the manner Finkelstein was denied tenure? How can they assume that she or he will have obtained the most advanced and critical theoretical and methodological foundation for both research and pegagogy possible, when it is clear from the actions of most senior personnel at DePaul that these are considered a hindrance to, rather than a facilitator of, advancement at your university?

Nor will I accept any invitation to attend any sort of academic gathering at your university. I will also strongly oppose any invitation to Rev. Holtschneider or Chuck Suchar, and any other member of the DePaul administration involved in this travesty, to speak at my university, or to any event sponsored by any professional association of which I am a member. This should in no way be construed as a call to censor; I would never oppose their invitation to speak based on their scholarly views or research. It is their unethical and dangerous actions as university administrators that demands their censure by colleagues and the academic profession at large.

If anyone should be removed from his position, it is Holtschneider and Suchar. For the sake of DePual's reputation, I urge the administration to overturn this action before the consequences do irreparable harm not just to prof. Finkelstein and academic freedom in the US, but to the standing of your university among the scholarly community in the United States and abroad.

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Randll Reese Besch - 8/19/2007

Such a president is intolerable. I think Dershowitz too should be fired for his hand in this character assasination. He wasn't even with the university!