Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Bad News

The New York City Department of Education decided today to prohibit Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, from participating further in a training program for secondary-school teachers that brought in university professors to speak at workshops. The NYCDoE thus caved to pressure that was brought to bear on them by the New York Sun (a pathetic rag of the worst kind). According to an article by Brock Read for the Chronicle of Higher Education (sorry, no link - I received the article in an email and did not see it anywhere up online, either on the Chronicle website or elsewhere):
last week, after The New York Sun published an article assailing Mr. Khalidi's involvement in the program, Joel I. Klein, the city's schools chancellor, announced that the professor would no longer be allowed to participate.

"Considering his past statements, Rashid Khalidi should not have been included in a program that provided professional development for DOE teachers, and he won't be participating in the future," Jerry Russo, Mr. Klein's press secretary, wrote in an e-mail message to the Sun.

In the past year Mr. Khalidi has participated in two training sessions. Neither generated any controversy.
Yes, no controversy. But that was before the attack on Columbia and MEALAC (the Middle East studies department at Columbia) was in full swing. So then, it was no big deal (in fact, NYC schools should be overjoyed to have somebody of Rashid Khalidi's knowledge and faculties speaking at workshops for their schools), but now that there is some momentum, the neofascists behind Campus Watch, etc., are starting to cash in. They are starting small (I'm sure that, other than the principle involved, Rashid Khalidi isn't going to miss giving one or two talks to NYC Dept. of Education workshops) but it is small victories like these that build momentum for the attack on the campuses.
Mr. Khalidi, in an interview on Monday, criticized Mr. Wiener and the Sun for attacking his institute and the field of Arab studies in general. "I think there's a broad attack on professors of the Middle East, and it's based on calumnies, innuendo, and taking situations out of context," he said.

Mr. Khalidi also blamed the Columbia administration's "supine" response to the controversy, which, he said, has emboldened the institute's critics.
Indeed, the anti-Arab right is crowing over this on the internet (an example here at the repugnant Little Green Footballs). I have noticed that many online commentators are more than happy to make sure that the word "Muslim" or "Arab" appears somewhere around Khalidi's name, as though he were some kind of religious nut (which could not be further from the truth) or as though he is not American (in fact, on one comment's section - I do not recall where - this was specifically stated for one of the reasons he is admired in academia) - this again, could not be further from the truth. The racist and anti-Muslim hysteria that is driving this neo-McCarthyism is simply disgusting.

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