Category Archives: academic freedom

December 18, 2013, 10:53 am

Blogging Across the Water: A Response to David Hirsh About the ASA Resolution

harvey-milk-us-postage-stampDear David,

Thank you for your civil and knowledgeable open letter of December 17, and the links you have shared. I hope you like the stamp I chose for my response: Harvey is one of my heroes, both for his belief that democracy can come to all of us and for his belief in moral persuasion.

You are right: I am new to the global debates over the BDS boycott, having been engaged in reading and conversation for only a year. And yet people have to make decisions at political moments, and for a variety of reasons I was faced with one this fall when I chose to come out against the ASA boycott resolution and then came to believe I needed to re-think and change my position. Part of what makes it difficult to engage this debate is that the two sides tend to use the same rhetorical strategies: the extremists yell and name call, the more moderate voices suggest that you don’t know what you are…

Read More

November 28, 2013, 11:46 am

Hands Across the Web: Thanksgiving Shout-Outs


After some posts Tenured Radical feels like the main course

Back in 2007, I handed out turkeys on Thanksgiving to the biggest dumb-a$$es in education I had encountered that year. Ah, but I was so much younger then; I’m older than that now. As I woke up this morning, I had this conversation with myself:

Tenured Radical: (slams a cup of coffee down on the bedside table) Yo, dude. Time for us to give out some of those good ol’ TR Thanksgiving Turkeys! You remember, that round-up of people who have made fools of themselves in some way? What better year than this one?

Claire Potter: (not yet fully awake) Are you sure? After everything that has happened in the past couple weeks, do we have to be vengeful? It’s been kind of unpleasant around here and I think we need to change the mood. I mean, we’ve ended up on…

Read More

November 23, 2013, 12:29 pm

Srsly? Notes on Social Media, #2013ASA

barack-obama-laughingYou may have received something on Facebook today, as well as on Twitter, floating the accusation that my opposition to the academic boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of #2013ASA is a sham. This opposition is, the messages claims, only an excuse for me to continue an unhealthy and longstanding obsession with a prominent member of the American Studies Association.

This person, it is alleged, was once my friend, but broke off that friendship for unnamed reasons (because I am a psychotic lesbian? Because I have bad politics? Because I am wardrobe challenged? We are taking suggestions in the comments section.) The tweet mentions that this person has blocked me on every electronic media possible, inferring that I have been an e-stalker in the past, and have taken up this deviant behavior again, this time strategizing my cyber-terror through time-consuming…

Read More

November 22, 2013, 10:51 am

One Side Fits All: An Interesting Development @ #2013ASA

Take a look at the following screen shot, and tell me what you see.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 9.46.01 AM

The first tweet, at the bottom, reports on what sounds like an outstanding presentation by Duke University’s Fred Moten. Moten was arguing in support of an intellectual boycott of Israel being considered by the National Council of the American Studies Association on Sunday. If I am understanding his, and the tweeter’s, argument correctly, it is an established position of PACBI: that Palestinians have no academic freedom, and therefore the issue is null. The corollary to this is that freedom of speech among US academics, and concerns that an institutional boycott of Israel will constrain the academic freedom of those employed by Israeli institutions (unless they are explicitly aligned with BDS) is a privileged, bourgeois concern that whitewashes the reality of the ongoing Occupation.

I would like to point out,…

Read More

November 21, 2013, 10:35 am

Blogging for Free Speech and Academic Freedom: The 1000th Post


Illustration by Ernest Hopf.

Given that my reply to one commenter had become post-length (look at the comments section of the prior post) I decided to make a few small edits and elevate it to the main page of the blog. I do so with a message to those opposing the resolution for an academic boycott of Israel at #2013ASA: stop throwing stones, and focus. The principles of free speech and academic freedom are, I believe, positive and compelling reaons to defeat an American Studies Association (ASA) boycott of Israel based on the principles laid out by PACBI. Questioning the motives and ethical stances of fellow academics affiliated with BDS is not. I have been particularly concerned by unwarranted charges of antisemitism and racism, on this blog, in the academic #twittersphere.

I would also like to say…

Read More

November 20, 2013, 9:42 am

Letter to the ASA Opposing the Proposed Academic Boycott of Israel

182377754_400x400_FrontTo: John Stephens, Executive Director of the American Studies Association

Subject: Opposition to proposed resolution before the National Council of the ASA for an academic boycott of Israel.

Dear John,

Please count me as an ASA member who opposes the proposed sanctions of Israel’s academic institutions and, by logical extension, the scholars associated with those institutions, that has been put before the Council by the Academic and Community Activism Caucus. Scholars of any nation ought to be free to travel, publish and collaborate across borders: I consider this to be a fundamental human right, and so does the United Nations. We in the American Studies Association cannot defend some of those human rights and disregard others. (more…)

November 19, 2013, 1:09 pm

Burned-out, Dissenting and Staying Home: On Not Attending the ASA Annual Meeting

boyoboyI had not planned to attend this year’s American Studies Association Meeting, which is just as well. After I learned this week that a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel would be presented for discussion, I realized I need a time out from American Studies. Part of this is that the organization — which I have always loved, and still love, for its activism — has taken itself in an intellectual direction that I sometimes no longer even understand. This year’s meeting, for example, bears the theme, “Beyond the Logic of Debt: Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent.”

Does anyone but me look at this and say “Why does this one thing before the colon seem not to bear any relationship to the thing after the colon?” Speaking of colitis, some are getting it from next year’s CFP, which seems to deliberately mock the idea of scholarly meetings by arguing that conferences may …

Read More

September 7, 2013, 12:17 pm

Department of Academic Freedom: Asking Students To Other Themselves


Why not have your students imitate gum salesgirls in public?

In a victory for academic freedom, Columbia State Community College psychology professor has been cleared of charges that an assignment on homosexuality harassed and discriminated against students of faith (HT).

The assignment, as I understand it, asked students to wear a gay pride ribbon out in public as they walked about Columbia, Tennessee. They were then to record their thoughts and observations for course credit. Although they could choose an alternative assignment, a few students felt that having it on the syllabus at all violated their religious beliefs. Although no student filed a grievance, the Alliance Defending Freedom, run by former conservative anti-pornography activist Alan Sears, filed a complaint against the professor anyway.


Read More

September 1, 2013, 10:40 am

Rewrite Women’s History? I Think Not (And Other Fun From Around The Web)


Take your hand off me before I help myself to another ball, d00d.

You know it’s Labor Day Weekend in New York when you see little packs of kids nodding off on the 7 train, sunburned and exhausted from a day chasing balls at the National Tennis Center.

While we are talking about tennis — what’s this mansplainin’ horse puckey from Bobby Riggs about throwing The Battle of the Sexes in 1973 to pay off his gambling debts? He would rather be remembered as a cheater, a criminal accessory and a thief than as a man who lost to a legendary female champion like Billie Jean King?


This is a man whose narcissism and a$$hattery seem only to be exceeded by that of the sports journalism establishment who rushed to press with a story that seems to have no second source. King says “she was there” and the match was…

Read More

April 14, 2013, 1:34 pm

Can We Have A Conversation About Political Conversation?

no-talkingIt appears that decent, ethical people associated with Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) are speaking out about the nastiness, personal attacks and other silencing tactics that currently characterize the debate over the Israeli Occupation. My trusty RSS feed reports that Columbia law prof Katherine Franke and San Francisco attorney and mediation specialist Frederick Hertz are asking pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli partisans in the United States to share queer intellectual and political space in a more productive way. You can read a report about the call to dialogue at Electronic Intifada.

Clearly, I have some skin in this game. Readers of Tenured Radical will remember an ugly week, not too long ago, in which my expression of doubt about the ethics and efficacy of a cultural boycott against Israel (a view which is not unique on the left, and does not represent an endorsement…

Read More