Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Down With the Boycott

Several weeks ago the academics who belong to the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to boycott Israeli universities.

It was an appalling action, well worthy of the label of anti-Semitic.

And yet, some good has come out of it. The ASA has been marginalized and shunned by many universities, some of which have withdrawn from the ASA. More importantly, the Association of American Universities has issued a strong denunciation of the ASA (via Legal Insurrection blog):

The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.

Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.

Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts.

William C. Powers, President, The University of Texas at Austin – Chair
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania – Vice Chair
Scott S. Cowen, President, Tulane University – Past Chair
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University
Michael V. Drake, Chancellor, University of California, Irvine
Bernadette Gray-Little, The University of Kansas
Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh
Morton O. Schapiro, President, Northwestern University
Lou Anna K. Simon, President, Michigan State University
David Skorton, President, Cornell University
Hunter R. Rawlings III, President, Association of American Universities – ex-officio

Among the others who also rejected the boycott were the leaders of Wesleyan University, Willamette University, Boston University and the University of California at San Diego.

Add to that the statement by the American Association ofUniversity Professors and many others, and you see a ray of light breaking through the clouds that had descended on the American academy.

It’s far too soon to say that it represents a trend—in all likelihood it doesn’t-- but, as the old saying goes, every journey begins with one step.


Dennis said...

Is it just me or do a lot of people who are on the Left become constrained by the "bubble" they have created for themselves. The "bubble" has grown so thick that very few of them think outside the protective "womb" they have built.
It would seem that here the ASA is much like GLAAD, the Democrats, the Obama administration, Congress and a large number of those associated with government have lost the capacity to see beyond their own narrow view of life. It has become so bad that they seek boycotts, silencing those who oppose them, destroying anything or one that might disagree, use the IRS and other agencies of the government, et al instead of developing a well reasoned argumentation for their position.
The sad part is that they have used the levers of power so much that the vast majority have lost the ability to engage in the "marketplace of ideas. There seems not to be a thinker who thinks at the global level and actually takes the time to work through the positives and negatives of their actions.
Take "Duck Dynasty controversy. http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/reality_bites_gays.html Did GLAAD and A7E think through where their actions would lead too. "Chick-Fiil-A" should have been instructive, Cooler heads would have taken a more nuanced position with the decision making to match.
Someone is going to have to explain to me how describing the homosexual act is vulgar to the people who engage it it? Along those same lines I have never understood the desire to bring men down. Does this not infer that women are at a lower level and in order to compete they have to weaken men?
The ASA and other assorted people who think they are the elite are the reason why a significant number don't want them near the levers of power and are beginning to believe that government is the problem and not the solution.
NOTE: I would like to see a site that lists the boycotts and the groups who are behind them. Take away the ability to control business, et al and one has taken the power away from a very small minority.

Sam L. said...

It's good to know that they stepped in it deeply and got more thrown at the. Comes from living in a bubble of think-alikers.