Thursday, April 05, 2007
Will Nazi Norman be Turned Down for Tenure at DePaul?
Will America's Largest Catholic University Give Tenure to a Fan of the
By Steven Plaut
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 5, 2007
The timing could not have been better. Just as the Jewish holiday of
liberation, Passover, was about to begin, the news was spreading
throughout the blogosphere that one of America's most openly anti-Semitic
and anti-American pseudo-academics was about to be "passed over" for
tenure. That tentative decision is now being attacked by the Left as
supposed suppression of academic freedom, although in fact it is merely
the introduction at long last of some semblance of academic quality
control into a university that has been under attack for lacking such.
Norman Finkelstein is a 53-year-old untenured assistant professor of
political science at DePaul University, no doubt one of the oldest
assistant professors in America. Before coming to DePaul in 2003, he had
been fired by several schools in the New York area for being a
pseudo-scholar and for his hatemongering activities. Finkelstein is
regarded by the anti-Defamation League and by the Simon Wiesenthal Center
as a Holocaust Denier and is similarly defined by Martin Peretz from the
New Republic and by others. Finkelstein is an open fan and endorser of
Holocaust Denier David Irving.
Born Jewish but having no affiliations with the Jewish community or
institutions, Finkelstein has made a career out of turning out hate
literature attacking Jews and Israel, the most famous of which is his
scurrilous "The Holocaust Industry." He is celebrated by every Neo-Nazi
organization and web site on earth, which delight at the irony of being
able to feature a nominal Jew who endorses their political agenda.
Finkelstein also appears regularly on Counterpunch. Finkelstein is the
Hezbollah's favorite American "academic" PR chief and has publicly
embraced Hezbollah and Hamas terror for many years. In the middle of the
barrage by Hezbollah against Israeli civilians last summer, Finkelstein
declared that his 'chief regret is that I wasn't even more forceful in
publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack.'
He added: "I say this without fear: for those who believe in freedom and
dignity - We are all Hezbollah now."
Finkelstein has been dismissed as a charlatan by nearly every serious
academic who has reviewed his writings. In the New York Times, Professor
Omer Bartov (Brown University historian) described Finkelstein's book on
the Holocaust as a "novel variation of the Protocols of the Elders of
Zion," the fraudulent essay concocted in the late nineteenth century
popular with German Nazis. Leon Wieseltier from the New Republic wrote
that Finkelstein is "poison, a disgusting self-hating Jew, something you
find under a rock," while Gabriel Schonfeld, the editor of Commentary
Magazine, has written (Commentary, January 2001) that Finkelstein's
writings are "crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the
propaganda put out by Neo-Nazis around the world." Enrst Zundel, the
Canadian Neo-Nazi deported to Germany where he is now in prison, proudly
proclaimed Finkelstein the "Jewish David Irving." He meant that as a
compliment. Finkelstein has long written vulgar smears against Holocaust
survivors, and in particular against Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz has written quite a few articles
exposing Finkelstein and his fraudulent pseudo-scholarship.
DePaul officials are reportedly blocking Finkelstein's prospects of
getting tenure in spite of sycophantic endorsement of his case by most of
his colleagues there in the Department of Political Science. The DePaul
officials are to be heartily congratulated for taking such a courageous
stand against charlatanism and fraud!
No less impressive is the fact that the efforts to force the political
science department at DePaul to adhere to real academic standards -
against the will of nine twelfths of the department's members . are
reportedly in large part those of Professor Chuck Suchar, Dean of Liberal
Arts and Sciences. Suchar, a sociologist, is hardly a vintage member of
the vast rightwing conspiracy. He is a leftist who in the past sponsored
and defended a series of events and lectures at DePaul attacking "American
imperialism". But Suchar seems to have drawn the line in the sand when
it comes to naked attempts by the political science department at DePaul
to award tenure to someone whose record is devoid of any scholarly
achievement or academic publications. And if Suchar displays the courage
of his convictions and sticks to his guns, he will emerge as the hero of
this entire sad episode at DePaul. If you would like to send Suchar a
cyber-pat on the back, he can be reached at email@example.com and also
DePaul is a Catholic school associated with the "Vincentians." Among
Suchar's grounds for vetoing the political science department's
skullduggery was his belief that keeping a buffoon of hate like
Finkelstein on the faculty would violate the ethical standards of the
Vincentians. How seldom we hear about real commitment to ethical behavior
on campus these days!
In recent years Finkelstein has turned his personal web page into a sewer
of vulgarity, obscenity, and defamatory personal smears against anyone who
has ever dared to criticize him or defend Israel. There he has also
published death threats, including one against Irshad Manji, who runs
Muslim Refusenik, a web site for dissident Muslims who reject
Islamofascism and terrorism, and another against Dershowitz. Finkelstein
has allied himself closely with a Brazilian-Arab Neo-Nazi cartoonist named
"Latuff", best known for winning the second prize in the Iranian Holocaust
Denial cartoon contest. Finkelstein not only runs Latuff's vile
"cartoons" on his web site, but commissioned Latuff to draw an obscene
cartoon of Professor Alan Dershowitz masturbating, after Dershowitz had
denounced some of Finkelstein's own antics. Finkelstein falsely accused
Dershowitz of having engaged in plagiarism, and unfortunately Dershowitz
never filed suit against him for it.
While some in the media are spinning the DePaul decision to block
Finkelstein's tenure as cowardice because of supposed nervousness about
Finkelstein's "controversial writings," the truth is far simpler.
Finkelstein is simply not an academic at all, but rather a fulltime
scribbler of hate and vulgarity. Indeed, the only reason he was ever
hired by DePaul in the first place is that the political science
department there was seeking someone born Jewish to indoctrinate students
into far-leftist jihadi hatred of Israel (and also hatred of America).
Finkelstein's courses were always one-sided exercises in political
indoctrination, which no doubt explains why they were popular among the
anarchist-Maoist wing of DePaul student radicals who signed up for them.
As noted, Finkelstein has no publications at all in academic journals, the
first and main requirement for granting tenure at any serious institution
of higher learning in the world. Instead, Finkelstein turns out one
anti-Israel propaganda diatribe after another. Getting Bash-Israel books
published is not particularly difficult these days, given the commercial
appetite of publishers for such material, but it hardly earns Finkelstein
any serious academic laurels. Finkelstein is quite simply a
pseudo-scholar and a charlatan who spends most of his time collaborating
with Neo-Nazis, Holocaust Deniers and Islamofascist terrorists. DePaul
seems to have made up its mind that the time has come at last to maintain
and enforce real academic standards. DePaul, long the worst bastion of
anti-American campus indoctrination in the greater Chicago area, has
decided that actual scholarship is to be required of its faculty members.
And a growing number of people at DePaul have simply had enough of
Finkelstein's infantile antics.
The same far Left that had absolutely nothing to say against DePaul when
it fired Professor Thomas Klocek because he had dared to express a
pro-Israel opinion outside the classroom is suddenly all up in arms over
what appears to be a decision to deny Finkelstein tenure. Finkelstein
himself seems to be blaming Dershowitz and his followers for "sabotaging"
things for him at DePaul.
Finkelstein's tenure proceedings also shed light into the dark secret
corners of academia, and especially into the mysterious processes through
which universities hire and promote. Most non-academics have no idea how
such things work.
Professors at serious universities are recruited, promoted and granted
tenure primarily on the basis of their scholarly research and only
secondarily on the basis of the quality of their teaching (measured -
somewhat foolishly - by student evaluations of professor popularity). In
the social sciences, research performance is measured mainly by articles
in refereed international academic journals. To the surprise of most
non-academics, publishing books does not "count" for much in academia,
mainly because book publication does not undergo the same peer review as
do journal article publications. Finkelstein has published nothing at all
in international refereed academic journals, although he does have a few
screeds in Marxist and Palestinian propaganda journals. Finkelstein's
"academic record" consists entirely of his hateful "books".
While the details vary from department to department and from university
to university, in general a non-tenured faculty member gets tenure in the
following way: if his department recommends that he get tenure, a
"professional committee" is set up to review his publications and to
solicit outside letters of evaluation from experts from around the world.
It then makes recommendations that must be approved by a campus-wide
promotions committee and by higher officials (Deans, Rectors, Presidents),
all of whom are supposed to oversee the honesty and professionalism of
promotion procedures and decisions.
The problem with all this is that it is very easy to manipulate and
neutralize the quality control procedures at many universities. This is
especially true when it comes to political extremists among the faculty up
for tenure. A non-objective professional committee can be easily compiled
and recruited from among faculty members friendly to the candidate or
sharing his radical political views. These can then purposely solicit
letters of evaluation from other political extremists who glowingly
endorse the "academic qualifications" of the candidate out of political
solidarity. Hence even a buffoon like Finkelstein with no scholarly
achievements may have enough political "friends" capable of manufacturing
on his behalf raving sycophantic letters of evaluation, sometimes even
written by academics at distinguished universities.
In the case of Finkelstein, his department reportedly voted 9 against 3 to
recommend him for tenure, despite Finkelstein's embarrassing lack of
scholarly publications. Those three dissidents who were opposed submitted
a minority report, and their valiant behavior proves that courage and
intellect are not dead at DePaul. The other members of the political
science department at DePaul are by and large the same leftists who hired
Finkelstein in the first place. They did not hire him for his scholarship
but for his politics of hate.
The DePaul "professional committee" for Finkelstein then made a unanimous
five-vote recommendation to grant him tenure, but that was reportedly
because a sixth committee member who opposed the tenure was denied the
possibility of casting a vote. This "unanimous" recommendation says
little about Finkelstein's credentials, but serves as a mountain of proof
about how easy it is to manipulate academic tenure proceedings and
short-circuit all quality control in universities! The naked
manipulation by Finkelstein's political science collaborators at DePaul
and the fact that the "professional committee" behaved with such
unprofessional partisanship were what triggered the veto by Dean Suchar
and perhaps also further opposition from other DePaul senior officials
So will Finkelstein now be goosestepping his way to the unemployment
office in his jackboots? He and his followers are still trying to
browbeat the DePaul officials into changing their minds about his tenure,
and there are panicky calls coming from far-leftists all about to rush to
Finkelstein's aid. Naturally, they are all blaming "rightwingers" (and
especially Alan Dershowitz) for poor Norman's academic demise. The
Marathon Pundit blog describes where things now stand:
'Finkelstein's fate may end up in the hands of Father Dennis
Holtschneider, DePaul's president, whose arrival in Chicago came after
Finkelstein's hiring. Holtschneider's first crisis was the Klocek affair.
A youngish-president, he appears to be about my age, forty-five, and he
let his inexperience show as he mishandled the Klocek incident and its
aftermath. Other flare-ups during "Holt's" reign include the Ward
Churchill fiasco and the school's Chicken Little reaction to the DePaul
Conservative Alliance's attempt to hold an "affirmative action bake
So where does all that leave America's leading cheerleader for the
Hezbollah? The same Finkelstein who may have attended the Holocaust
Denial conference last year? Will DePaul's odium at last be removed?
Well, it looks like his job prospects are not that bad. Perhaps DePaul's
loss will be the University of Tehran's gain.
[If you would like to tell DePaul's President Holtschneider what YOU think
of all this, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The names and
emails of the other officials are here.]