Friday, December 27, 2013

Rejecting the Boycott

Strangely enough, more and more universities are rejecting the American Studies Association boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has been keeping track of the pushback. Link here.

This morning the story made the New York Times:

The American Studies Association’s endorsement this month of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions continues to stir passions, with four colleges and universities announcing their withdrawal from the association, a second leading higher-education association denouncing the boycott and a rising tide of college presidents speaking out against it.

One after the other, prominent university presidents and academic leaders have issued condemnations over the last week that emphasize the importance of academic freedom.

“Academic boycotts subvert the academic freedoms and values necessary to the free flow of ideas, which is the lifeblood of the worldwide community of scholars,” said Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard.

The executive committee of the American Association of Universities, an organization of the most prestigious research institutions, joined the American Association of University Professors in opposing the boycott. It said the boycott would violate the academic freedom “not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it.”

We conclude that the American Studies Association overreached. There are limits beyond which even liberal academics are unwilling to go.

When it comes to American universities, one needs to be thankful for the small things… because that is all we are going to get.

1 comment:

Dennis said...

I might gain back s modicum of respect for academia considering a growing number are finally starting to stand up for academic freedom. Now if they apply it to other groups and their own students I will think we have finally turned the corner on hate groups on and off the university trying to control the "marketplace of ideas."
it would be even more interesting if they grew a spine and not allowed groups to control who are invited to speak.
My hope is that the "backlash" will continue to grow against this kind of fascism. Ideas only become dangerous when they are kept out of the "marketplace of ideas, where they can be discussed and challenged. Believing that one's fellow citizens lack the ability to discern good from bad is the infantilization of those who are supposed to be one's equal. It is a demonstration of the lack of intellectual capacity to be able to defend your ideas. It is intellectual cowardice.