LETTERS

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November 8, 2002

Letters to the Editor

Accusations on Campus Watch

To the Editor:

We are appalled at irresponsible allegations of anti-Semitism and "abuse of power" against faculty of the University. These charges and insinuations—made on Campuswatch.org and in other contexts—have been aimed at Rashid Khalidi, Professor of History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; at Holly Shissler, Assistant Professor in NELC; and at a half-dozen other colleagues. Reckless allegations have no place on a campus dedicated to open debate, reasoned inquiry, and the careful use of substantiating evidence. In the case of Campuswatch.org, allegations found to be utterly without merit continue to appear on the website, to circulate on campus, and to fuel attacks on valued members of the faculty. In the present climate of fear and violence—including lethal attacks on university campuses—these inflammatory denunciations potentially put colleagues in harm's way. Professor Khalidi has already received threatening e-mails and suffered repeated harassment by electronic means that is now under criminal investigation.

We object in the strongest possible terms to the traffic in these allegations. We wish to admonish members of this faculty not to disseminate them, much less to endorse them or to lend their names to the website that promotes them. It is also our view that encouraging students to inform on and denounce their professors in such contexts is a perversion of the classroom, with the effect of inhibiting free expression and the interchange of ideas.

We consider the issue of anti-Semitism—indeed, of racism and bigotry in any form—to be a deadly serious matter, especially in these times. Like President Randel, we categorically denounce bigotry in all of its manifestations. It is precisely because of the gravity and danger of real bigotry that one must oppose the casual and careless use of such labeling. Ethical charges are often mustered to occlude or preclude political debate, and there is no question that this has happened around the highly freighted issues of contemporary Middle East politics. We write to urge the campus-wide renunciation of a campaign that, as it is aimed at intimidating our colleagues, risks compromising the University's most fundamental objectives.

Danielle Allen, Associate Professor of Classical Languages and Literature; Yali Amit, Professor of Statistics and Computer Science; Andrew Apter, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Leora Auslander, Associate Professor of History; Ralph A. Austen, Associate Professor of History; Lauren Berlant, Professor of English Language and Literature; David Bevington, Professor of English Language and Literature; Robert D. Biggs, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Wayne C. Boothe, Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature; John W. Boyer, Professor of History; Menachem Brinker, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Bill Brown, Professor of English Language and Literature; Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, Professor of Anthropology; Dipesh Chakrabarty, Professor of South Asian Language and Civilization; James K. Chandler, Professor of English Language and Literature; George Chauncey, Professor of History; Cathy Cohen, Professor of Political Science; Bertram Cohler, Professor of Psychology; Jean Comaroff, Professor of Anthropology; John Comaroff, Professor of Anthropology; Kathleen N. Conzen, Professor of History; Edward M. Cook, Associate Professor of History; Bruce Cumings, Professor of History, Robert Dankoff, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Wendy Doniger, Professor in the Divinity School; Prasenjit Duara, Professor of History; Christopher Faraone, Professor of Classical Languages and Literature; Constantin Fasolt, Professor of History; Norma M. Field, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilization; Sheila Fitzpatrick, Professor of History; Cornell Fleischer, Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies; Raymond D. Fogelson, Professor of Anthropology; Michael Foster, Professor of Philosophy; Rachel Fulton, Associate Professor of History; Michael E. Geyer, Professor of History; Jan E. Goldstein, Professor of History; Susan Gzesh, Director Human Rights Program; Miriam Hansen, Professor of English Language and Literature; Neil Harris, Professor of History; Elizabeth Helsinger, Professor of English Language and Literature; Gary Herrigel, Associate Professor of Political Science; Thomas Holt, Professor of History; James A. Hopson, Professor Emeritus of Organismal Biology and Anatomy; Janet H. Johnson, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Wadad Kadi, Professor Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Friedrich Katz, Professor of History; John Kelly, Associate Professor of Anthropology; James E. Ketelaar, Professor of History; Boaz Keysar, Professor of Psychology; Alan L. Kolata, Professor of Anthropology; Michael C. LaBarbera, Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy; Barbara Leventhal, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychology; Susan C. Levine, Professor of Psychology; Bruce Lincoln, Professor in the Divinity School; Claudio Lomnitz, Professor of History; Daniel Luchins, Associate Professor of Psychiatry; John MacAloon, Associate Dean of the Social Science Division; Saree Makdisi, Associate Professor of English Language and Literature; John J. Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science; Françoise Meltzer, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature; Paul Mendes-Flohr, Professor in the Divinity School; Heshmat Moayyad, Professor Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Kathleen D. Morrison, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Janel Mueller, Professor of English Language and Literature; Salikoko Mufwene, Professor of Linguistics: Nancy D. Munn, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology; Michael J. Murrin, Professor of English Language and Literature; Tetsuo Najita, Professor Emeritus of History; Robert S. Nelson, Professor of Art History; Peter Novick, Professor Emeritus of History; Dennis G. Pardee, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Robert B. Pippin, Professor of Committee on Social Thought; Sheldon Pollock, Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilization; Moishe Postone, Associate Professor of History; Martin Riesebrodt, Associate Professor in the Divinity School; Robert J. Richards, Professor of History; Martha T. Roth, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Marshall Sahlins, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology; Eric L. Santner, Professor of Germanic Studies; Saskia Sassen, Professor of Sociology; Julie Saville, Associate Professor of History; Jay Schleusener, Associate Professor of English Language and Literature; William Sewell, Professor of Political Science and History; Joel M. Snyder, Professor of Art History; Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor of History; Howard Stein, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy; Martin Stokes, Associate Professor of Music; Matthew W. Stolper, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; Ronald Suny, Professor of Political Science; Lorna Puttkammer Straus, Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy; David Tracy, Professor in the Divinity School; Russel H. Tuttle, Professor of Anthropology; Robert von Hallberg, Professor of English Language and Literature; Theo van den Hout, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; David E. Wellbery, Professor of Germanic Studies; Elissa B. Weaver, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature; William Wimsatt, Professor of Philosophy; Iris Young, Professor of Political Science.

Harassment in the College

To the Editor:

Two weeks ago at a frat party, Robert Hubbard was harassed and hit with full beer cans by two or more unidentified students. He was dancing with another guy at the time. Robert is a first-year recently elected to Student Council, named "Harvard-bound" by his high school classmates. Apparently, however, some students here are much more concerned about his sex life than his leadership skills. The following is an open letter to his assaulters.

Dear Anonymous,

My point isn't a profound one, and I won't quote any dead white guys on you, either. In fact, it's such a mundane point that it's amazing that in the year 2002, I'm writing this article at all. But as Robert's experience would indicate, it's a point that needs to be made.

You have a right to your homophobia, just as I have my right to my total disdain for it. But your right to express that (baseless) (irrational) (Neanderthal) belief ends where my friend's face begins. I wish this campus were one where Robert's talents mattered more than who he's dancing with on Saturday night. In the meantime, at least keep your fists, or whatever cowardly variation thereof, to yourself. (Scholarly note: throwing beer cans has actually been found to be a step below monkeys throwing their own feces).

You have changed this place for Robert, for me, for all his friends who saw him that night or heard later. We don't feel as safe, and we're not so complacent. And if you go unpunished, it certainly won't be because the students here think it's okay to beat up on gay people. My point shouldn't just be mundane in 2002. It should be mundane to anyone who passed kindergarten. Have our admissions standards changed that much?

Sincerely,

Emily Alpert