Last Wednesday Nicholas de Genova, an anthropology professor at Columbia, while addressing an antiwar “teach-in” (are these guys lost in a time warp, or what?), told the crowd that “the only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military,” while Americans who call themselves “patriots” are actually white supremacists. So far so good. But de Genova strayed beyond the pale when he added, “I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.” This was too much, even at Columbia, and de Genova has been keeping his head down since Wednesday, hoping to ride out the controversy.
I wondered what sort of person hopes for American servicemen to be killed and their bodies dragged through the streets by triumphant savages; thanks to the miracle of Google, such questions can pretty easily be answered. De Genova is, it seems, a depressingly familiar sort of leftist academic.
His dissertation, titled “Working the Boundaries, Making the Difference: Race and Space in Mexican Chicago,” “posits a Mexican Chicago as a standpoint of critique from which to interrogate the U.S. nation-state, political economy, racialized citizenship, and immigration law.”
De Genova’s writing is amusingly incompetent. Check out this paragraph, which is not a parody:
“While we are foregrounding the salience of Latino and Asian racial formations, it is likewise crucial that the gendered, sexualized, and class-specific dimensions of these social processes also be emphasized. Indeed, one of the central concerns of the conference will be to examine some of the ways that Latinos and Asians together are implicated in an on-going transnationalized reconfiguration of the broader social formation of the U.S. nation-state itself.”
As a professor of Latino studies, de Genova feeds at the ethnic-studies trough; he presents papers whose titles refer ironically to “‘illegal’ immigration,” and gives speeches on “the new internment;” i.e., the government’s anti-terrorism efforts. Touching all the bases, he has also spoken at programs supporting the University of Michigan’s racially discriminatory practices.
So de Genova can be taken as a typical leftist professor. He is typical in another way as well. In today’s world, where there is leftism, anti-Semitism usually lurks nearby. Sure enough; last April 17, de Genova spoke at an anti-Israel hate rally where he said: “The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. The state of Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust.
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