Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Steven Salaita Suing UI and Going on Welfare Tour

Hat tip Teri

"Poor Ralphie, Stevie."

Hell hath no fury like a liberal professor scorned. So the latest is that Steven Salaita is suing the University of Illinois for not hiring him. In addition, Students for Justice in Palestine, that bully organization founded by UC Berkeley professor, Hatem Bazian, is putting Salaita on the lecture tour-at least in the Chicago area. They are asking universities to pay Salaita an honorarium and pass the collection plate at events.

Note: I am posting the entire texts as sent to me by Teri. The yellow highlights are hers. (If you go to the link you have to register, get a password, and all that nonsense to read the article.

Salaita and his lawyers appear closer to taking legal action against the UI. "We're getting our ducks in a row," Salaita's lawyer, Anand Swaminathan of Loevy & Loevy in Chicago
Steven Salaita: University of Illinois promotes 'false narrative ... to appease a few wealthy donors.'

The latest in the Steven Salaita saga
Wed, 10/01/2014 - 7:00am | Christine Des Garennes
Salaita 10012014
Photo by: Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette

Professor Steven Salaita answers questions at Latzer Hall at the University YMCA in Champaign on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

Nearly three weeks after the University of Illinois Board of Trustees rejected his appointment to the faculty, Salaita and his lawyers appear closer to taking legal action against the UI. "We're getting our ducks in a row," Salaita's lawyer, Anand Swaminathan of Loevy & Loevy in Chicago, said Tuesday.

Swaminathan has said they'll be seeking injunctive relief to request a court to order the university to "do what it failed to do" earlier this month — that is, complete the employment process and hire Salaita. It's likely the lawsuit will be filed in federal court.
once-prolific tweeter, Salaita turned quiet in late July and remained silent through August after his tweets critical of Israel's invasion of Gaza received scrutiny and Chancellor Phyllis Wise notified him that she would not forward his appointment to the board for approval.

But since his public appearance in Champaign on Sept. 9, he's been slowly returning to social media, thanking supporters and organizing a speaking tour.In advance of next week's tour in Chicago, Salaita wrote an essay for the Chicago Tribune in which he says his academic career was "destroyed over gross mischaracterizations of a few 140-character posts." He went on to explain some of his more controversial tweets. (SEE BELOW)

The tour "is more than about Steven Salaita and his job. This is about what kind of democracy we want in this country," Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago, said Tuesday. What happened to Salaita is indicative of the shutting down of debates across the country about Middle East politics and the U.S. government's military involvement there, he said.

Thayer has been working with Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at several Chicagoland universities to bring Salaita in for talks. Salaita will be at Northwestern on Monday, then visit UIC, the University of Chicago, Loyola, Columbia College and DePaul. His talks will vary by campus.

Organizers are asking groups and departments to pay him an honorarium and will be asking for donations at events.

Steven Salaita: U. of I. destroyed my career
Professor Steven Salaita
Professor Steven Salaita, whose job offer was rescinded by the University of Illinois, gave a public response Sept. 9 at the university YMCA in Urbana, Ill. (Armando L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune)

By Steven Salaita

Steven Salaita: University of Illinois promotes 'false narrative ... to appease a few wealthy donors.'

Being recruited for a tenured faculty position at a major university is no small feat, nor should it be; tenure represents the pinnacle of an academic career. In my case, it involved numerous interviews with faculty in the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an intensive review of my scholarship, pedagogy and professional service.
I survived this rigorous review and, having accepted an employment offer from the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, resigned my tenured position at another university and prepared my family to move. A few weeks before classes were to start, and without any warning, I received a letter from the chancellor, Phyllis Wise, informing me of my termination.
How did this happen?
In the weeks before my move, I watched in anguish as Israel killed more than 2,100 people during its recent bombing of Gaza, 70 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Like so many others, I took to my Twitter account. I posted tweets critical of Israel's actions, mourning in particular the death of more than 500 of Gaza's children.
A partisan political blog cherry-picked a few of those tweets from hundreds to create the false impression that I am anti-Semitic. Publicly disclosed documents reveal that, within days, University of Illinois donors who disagreed with my criticism of Israeli policy threatened to withhold money if I wasn't fired. My academic career was destroyed over gross mischaracterizations of a few 140-character posts.
In response to the overwhelming criticism, the university and its supporters argue that, constitutional and contractual obligations aside, my challenges to Israeli government action were anti-Semitic, and my discourse on Twitter — a medium that is designed to be quick and sometimes cutting — was "uncivil."
Such tactics are increasingly being used to silence faculty and students on campuses across the country for speaking in support of Palestinian human rights. Too often universities acquiesce to external pressure, as in this case, where in their rush to accommodate donor demands, the trustees disregarded the judgment of the faculty hiring committee and failed to review my teaching and scholarly record, or even my other tweets.
In fact, as my Twitter followers know, I vocally condemn anti-Semitism, as when I tweeted, "My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of anti-Semitism," or when I criticized the rapper Macklemore for wearing a costume that evoked age-old Jewish stereotypes. As I noted during the Gaza bombing, "I believe that Jewish and Arab children are equal in the eyes of God."
The point that Jewish people and the behavior of the Israeli state should not be conflated is one I have made consistently both in my academic writing and on my personal Twitter account, I have tweeted, "I refuse to implicate all Jewish people in the practices of the Israeli state." I have also tweeted, "I refuse to conceptualize #Israel/#Palestine as Jewish-Arab acrimony. I am in solidarity with many Jews and in disagreement with many Arabs."
And so when I wrote in one of the controversial tweets, "Israel: transforming 'antisemitism' from something horrible to something honorable since 1948," my point was not that there is any honor in anti-Semitism, but that calling legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies an act of anti-Semitism drains the word of meaning and undermines the very real experiences of those who suffer its horrors. Likewise, the intent of my tweet that settlers should "go missing" was a call for an end to the settlements, which the international community largely agrees are counterproductive to peace, not a call to violence.
As for the vague and subjective charge of "incivility," it has nothing to do with my classroom performance. My former students have spoken overwhelmingly about my strength in accommodating conflicting viewpoints and in their evaluations I have never been criticized for being unfair or intolerant of contrasting opinions.
Narratives never encompass the totality of the stories they attempt to tell. They emerge from a long editing process. Think reality TV: Thousands of hours of raw footage are condensed to 40 minutes, selected to convey calculated storylines. Any time we tell a story, we omit what we consider unimportant, and in worse moments, we ignore information that contradicts a predetermined conclusion.
If we consider the parts of my record left on the cutting-room floor, my story looks quite different. In taking the extraordinary step of terminating me from a tenured position, University of Illinois leadership adopted a false narrative in order to appease a few wealthy donors rather than uphold critical principles of free speech and academic freedom. This is the reality-TV version of my story, which has disturbing implications for the future of American universities that reach far beyond my job prospects.
Steven Salaita is a scholar of indigenous studies. He tweets at @stevesalaita.

Join in the discussion on the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board’s Facebook page or on Twitter by following @Trib_Ed_Board.


Here is what Salaita wrote in the tweet about people going missing in the wake of the kidnapping of those three Israeli teenagers who were murdered.

And there was this one from June 20, after three Israeli teenagers went missing: "You may be too refined to say it, but I'm not:  I wish all the [expletive] West Bank settlers would go missing."

Salaita says he was merely calling for an end to the settlements. Right. Unfortunately the context in which he said it was the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens who resided in a settlement. Those three teens didn't simply pack up, leave the house, and move to Tel Aviv. That's pretty lame in my view.

If I as a teacher (part-time) at UC Irvine were to in any way call for say, members of the Muslim Student Union or anyone else I had issues with, to "go missing", how long do you think UCI would keep me around?

And who do you think those few wealthy donors are that Salaita is referring to?

So now this guy sues the University of Illinois and will go around crying "victim" on various university campuses hat in hand asking for $$$$.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

If he had been through the entire selection process and offered a position, THEN was turned down because of some personal speech on his own time, this is a rather different case than the original characterization.

If he resigned from a tenured position in reliance on a firm commitment of employment at U of I, then he at least has a case for damages.

I don't know any legal basis for requiring the university to hire him and assign him to teach classes.

Gary Fouse said...

If your 2nd scenario is true, he may have a case for damages as you say, but he doesn't have to go around playing the victim role begging for money and speaking gigs for SJP. It kind of shows what type of character he is.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Yeah, he's as low down and dirty as that caper on GoFundMe raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the officer who shot Michael Brown.

In other words, it seems to be endemic these days that when someone suffers an injury, they go raise money off of it. I mean, consider the opening paragraph of any Republican or Democratic fundraising letter... "Look what those mean nasty ugly monsters did to us! SEND MONEY NOW!!!

Anyway, if he's out of work, Salaita has to feed his family somehow. Consider the second career of David Horowitz.