Hero worship for a bully

The Columbia University ad hoc grievance committee discussed in Paul Mirengoff’s “Conduct unbecoming” yesterday found something, however small, to criticize in the conduct of Professor Joseph Massad. In Paul’s summary:

In one case, Professor Massad was accused of telling a student, “If you are going to deny the atrocities being committed against Palestinians, then you can get out of my classroom.” This was in response to a student who asked whether Israelis sometimes give warnings before bombing certain areas so that no one will be hurt. Although Massad denied the allegation, the committee found it “credible,” in light of detailed corroborating evidence.
A second student, a former member of the Israeli military, complained that, when he tried to ask Massad a question during a student-sponsored lecture, Massad asked him twice how many Palestinians he had killed. The committee found nothing to disapprove of here, because the discussion did not occur in a classroom. It went on to praise Massad for his “warmth, dynamism, and candor.”

By contrast, however slight, Robin Finn profiles Massad in the New York Times as a hero for our times: “At the center of academic storm, a lesson in calm.” We missed this profile when it appeared on April 8, but fortunately The Daily Scorecard noticed. The Scorecard’s eye dead-on:

The writer glowingly observes:
–his impeccable dress and Christian fellowship
–fine taste in wine and magazines, perfect attire and cultured ingratiating manner with a metrosexual gloss
–a Professor who “won’t stand for either anti-semitism or anti- Palestinianism”
–someone who once long ago held seders with a roomate
–received (he says) hate email from “other Columbia faculty”
–someone on the front lines “defending academic freedom” from dark forces of McCarthyism
–was intimidated as a student “for criticizing Pinochet”
–“allowed” “student hecklers” into his classroom because he firmly believes in free speech.

For the record, this is the kind of treatment that the Times most recently accorded former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle and current West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd; I discussed the Times’s profile of Byrd in “Only the wrong survive.”


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