Monday, August 25, 2008
“A number of my Brooklyn College colleagues were profiled in a Chronicle article discussing their protests against the treatment of Syed Fahad Hashmi. Hashmi, a 2003 Brooklyn College graduate, is currently being held without bail, awaiting trial on charges of providing material assistance to Al Qaeda.The petition, alas, seems unlikely to achieve its stated intent. Given the Bush administration’s record on terrorism cases and civil liberties, it’s plausible to believe that Hashmi’s civil liberties have been violated. Yet the petition’s presentation of the case is so one-sided—and its comments about the case’s effects on the academy so off-the-wall—as to make any undecided reader less, rather than more, likely to embrace the signatories’ position.
The Chronicle appropriately describes the case against Hashmi as “murky.” And political science professor Jeanne Theoharis, the statement’s author, has said that the signatories take no position on the merits of Hashmi’s guilt or innocence. Yet their petition and the remarks of the petition’s two chief sponsors (Theoharis and political science professor Corey Robin) read as if cribbed from a defense brief.It’s not clear how a one-sided presentation of the facts of the case will rally support for the signatories' claim that Hashmi’s civil liberties have been violated. (Such a strategy, it seems to me, only undermines the credibility of the petition's broader assertions.) In their commentary about the case’s possible effects on free speech and the academy, however, the signatories cross over from one-sided to merely bizarre.Affirm the signatories, “The prosecution’s case against Hashmi, an activist within the Muslim community, threatens the First Amendment rights of others. While Hashmi’s political and religious beliefs, speech, and associations are constitutionally protected, the government may attempt to use them as evidence of his criminal intent."
Well, yes: for instance, the government may point out that Hashmi’s praise of John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban) provides insight into his state of mind. Similarly, in the 1960s, it was perfectly appropriate for federal prosecutors in trials of KKK members to use their (constitutionally protected) racist statements or memberships to provide insight into the Klansmens’ mindsets. There isn’t anything particularly unusual about such a trial strategy, and it’s absurd to say that such an attempt “threatens the First Amendment rights of others.”(By the way, I assume that each of the signatories is committed to advocating the repeal of all hate crimes laws—since such legislation is based on the premise of using “constitutionally protected” “political and religious beliefs, speech, and associations . . . as evidence of . . . criminal intent.”)
The statement’s authors stretch credulity even further when they discuss the case’s alleged effect on the academy.Theoharis: “It’s particularly significant in a moment when we are seeing the criminalization of Muslim students. I think that he is a devout and practicing Muslim who is very political. If he can be treated like this, it sends a message to other young people, particularly other Muslim young people, that you know you are not protected. I think it is crucial in terms of students thinking they can be who they want to be and espouse the politics that they want to espouse.”
Robin: “The classroom is supposed to be a kind of sacred space where students can express their beliefs, and faculty are obligated to push them. It’s chilling to me to think that that whole process, which is the essence of what it means to be an educated person, could suddenly become an item of scrutiny in a court of law.”The signatories present no evidence that the government intends to use at trial (or has even investigated) Hashmi’s utterances in the “sacred space” of the “classroom,” or that the government intends to make the classroom “an item of scrutiny in a court of law.” Nor do the signatories present any evidence to suggest a pattern of “the criminalization(!) of Muslim students.”
That hundreds of professors could sign a statement associated with such claims says more about the academy than any violations of civil liberties by the government.Two individual signatories particularly raised eyebrows. By all accounts, Hashmi is an extremely religious man. Yet the list of signatories included would-have-been Brooklyn Sociology Department chairman Tim Shortell, who had previously branded all religious people “moral retards.” It’s not clear if Shortell considers Hashmi a “moral retard,” too."
And among the signatories of this petition? Our very own “Sue” O’Malley. At the same time that she is taking Sharad Karkhanis to court for suggesting, in an albeit sarcastic manner, that she has in the past been a prominent advocate for convicted criminals at CUNY, she is making Sharad’s case by standing behind Syed Hashmi! Far be it from us to question O’Malley’s exercise of her First Amendment rights. But how she can join in the cause of Hashmi while suing Karkhanis for making statements of fact is well beyond our ken.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
At about the same time, Brooklyn professor Mitchell Langbert's blog was inactive, having been reported to Google as a "spam blog."
We're sure that it's only a coincidence that two blogs highly critical of plaintiff Susan O'Malley were shut down at the same time, for the same bogus reason.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Despite the suspicious timing of the contract ratification process—in the dog days of summer—many of our colleagues have pleaded for a free, frank and full discussion of the contract before it is approved. But true to form, the leadership has dismissed their objections and denied them access to modes of communication paid for by their own dues.
The PSC’s curious, but characteristic, insistence on conformity and censorship has now been noticed in the pages of Inside Higher Education:
Revolt in the Adjunct Ranks
“When the current leaders of the faculty union at the City University of New York were elected in 2000, they ousted their predecessors with a vow to be more activist and to deliver more for faculty members, including part timers. Since then, the union leaders have indeed been activist and politically vocal, drawing regular criticism from professors who would prefer to see the Professional Staff Congress take a more moderate stance.
But in an unusual reversal that points to some of the tensions in academic labor over how to balance the needs of full-time and part-time professors, the union (affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers) is facing intense criticism from those whom it pledged to help: the part timers who lack the pay or job security of those on the tenure track. Some part-time professors are organizing to urge the entire union membership to reject a contract recently negotiated by the union.
The dissident part timers charge that the contract — by failing to achieve anything in the way of job security for most part timers and by calling for the same percentage increase wages for most full-time and part-time professors, even though the former enjoy much higher salaries — effectively adds to the inequality between those on and off the tenure track. Adding to the controversy is anger from part timers who say that the union’s leaders are blocking them from communicating their concerns to the union’s full membership.
The union leaders told the critics of the contract that they could not distribute their views in the union newspaper (it was too late for the deadline, they said) or use e-mail to the entire membership because the union leaders have voted to endorse the contract, making that stance official policy even before the membership votes.
Because adopting a contract is one of the union activities that requires a membership vote, this has infuriated many adjuncts and some others — even some who think the new contract was the best the union could hope for. Some critics have noted that they are shocked that the union would block its own members from sending e-mail to the union’s list of member names, when union leaders boasted that one of their contract gains was the right to do union business on CUNY computer networks.”
Despite the bully-boy efforts of Steve London, the PSC’s First Vice-President, and his henchman Peter Hogness, censor-in-chief of the union’s newspaper The Clarion, the dissidents have been able to get some media coverage. The most welcoming, and best circulated, venue for alternate views has been The Patriot Returns! Little wonder, then, that Barbara and “Sue” have been trying their best to shut Sharad Kharkanis and his newsletter down. Heaven forbid that faculty members could disagree with these “dear leaders.”
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Professional Staff Congress and Revolutionary Unionism
"The temperate, prudent, courageous, just and of course virtuous Sharad Karkhanis has written an excellent issue of Patriot Returns. Karkhanis named his newsletter after our Patriot missles, which shot down Iraqi Scuds in 1991. With a circulation of 13,000, Karkhanis's newsletter aims to shoot down the Scuds of the perverse CUNY faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) and hopefully blow the PSC leadership back to Cuba, although I doubt that even Castro or his brother would want them. Maybe North Korea's Kim Jong-il would welcome them since they seem to aim to give the CUNY faculty a North Korean-style wage-and-benefit package, but even he might find them tiresome.
In the early twentieth century there were alternative models of unionism being proposed. The mainstream AF of L, created by Samuel Gompers and Adolph Strasser, advocated a form of unionism that labor scholar Robert F. Hoxie called business unionism. Business unionism does not question the underlying assumptions of the capitalist economy and resorts to political gamesmanship only in order to "reward friends and punish enemies". Its emphasis is improving wages, benefits and working conditions, not changing the world. Gompers expressed the pro-capitalist essence of business unionism when someone asked him: "What does labor want?" Gompers responded: "More". Like any profit-maximizing capitalist, and any red-blooded American, business unionists aim to advance themselves economically. In contrast, models of unionism that were prevalent during the early twentieth century included the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies) and the communist unionism of the Socialist Labor Party's Daniel de Leon's Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance and others. American workers rejected what labor scholar Hoxie called revolutionary unionism in favor of business unionism. The gulf between the "New" Left and the business unionists reached a crescendo during the Vietnam War in 1965 when AFL-CIO president George Meany announced his support for the Vietnam War.
Inverting the historical pattern, the PSC leadership has rejected business unionism in favor of revolutionary unionism. Its repeated calls for demonstrations; the anti-Iraqi War protests several years ago; the endless radical rhetoric that has alienated New York's political establishment (social democratic thought it be); and the utter contempt with which the PSC's leadership treats economic and workplace issues all suggest that the PSC does not operate as a mainstream union. The low contract numbers that Karkhanis decries result from the PSC's leadership's strategic choice to favor revolution over selfish gain, or even selfish keeping your head above water and avoiding the bankruptcy judge.
Perhaps the the PSC leadership does not need to worry about electric, heating, gasoline and food bills. Perhaps like Professor Ros, they live in high rent apartments on six figure incomes. Perhaps they can afford to contribute $5,000 to the Obama campaign.
If so, isn't it time to get back to reality and rocket this crew back to Cuba via one of Karkhanis's Patriots?"
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
In one respect, Susan O’Malley’s lawsuit against Sharad Karkhanis is a deadly serious assault on a basic tenet of academic freedom—the right of professors, at a publicly funded university, to publicly criticize their elected faculty leadership. In another respect, however, the lawsuit could best be compared to a bad Country Western song—“The Ballad of 'Thin-Skinned Sue',” the professor who seemed to stand for election to every faculty post under the sun, and who then struck back at one of her most caustic critics by filing a lawsuit that she herself described as “very, very silly.”
It seems as if “Thin-Skinned Sue” has managed to find herself an equally thin-skinned lawyer. In a posting on his website recently forwarded to us by a reader, attorney Joseph Carasso lashed out against the authors of this blog. In a line that doesn’t indicate judicial temperament, he fumed, “It is scary to think that young impressionable students are taught by people who not only are cowards and lack honor, but misinform and lie with ease.” He further labeled us a “coward” for refusing to “proclaim their identity to the world.”
In the blog’s founding statement, we addressed the question of our posting pseudonymously. As we noted, “Lest we, too, be subject to a lawsuit from the PSC leadership, this blog is published pseudonymously by CUNY faculty members.”
In that respect, we concede that the O’Malley/Carasso lawsuit already has had something of a chilling effect. As full-time faculty members at CUNY, we have suffered through the last seven years of ineffectual leadership by the faculty union, as O’Malley and her cronies in the leadership have focused on international causes and their base among the adjuncts, while avoiding the pressing problem of low salaries for full-time professors. As a result, we simply don’t have the money to hire competent counsel if O’Malley should decide to drop one of her “very, very silly” lawsuits on us.
In our post about Carasso, we cited a trade website to note that Carasso was a literary agent for ARP. In his posting, Carasso denies any association with ARP. Despite his ad hominem attacks against us, we accept him at his word, apologize for repeating the trade website’s error, and have corrected the original posting.
The rest of Carasso’s screed is all huff and no substance—a little like O’Malley’s lawsuit itself. In our original post, we observed that Carasso has “advertised himself as providing ‘low-cost legal advice for independents.’” We linked to a column in Filmmaker Magazine by Carasso himself. The article was subtitled, “Joseph Martin Carasso on low-cost legal advice for independents.”
Carasso now claims, “I certainly never advertised for low cost legal services.” Is he now asserting that he, in fact, never wrote the linked column? If so, his beef would seem to be with Filmmaker Magazine, which claimed that he did, not us. Or is he asserting that Filmmaker Magazine reached out to someone with no knowledge in the field to pen an article on “low-cost legal advice for independents”? Again, if so, his beef would seem to be with Filmmaker Magazine, not us. Or is he suggesting that he falsely advertised himself to Filmmaker Magazine as an expert on “low-cost legal advice for independents,” even though he knows little about the topic?
Whichever of the three arguments Carasso is presenting—his post is wholly unclear on the matter—there’s nothing he has offered that rebuts our original post.
Carasso’s rebuttal doesn’t even attempt to challenge our suggestions that he isn’t exactly a word-class attorney with expertise on academic freedom issues. As we noted in the original post, Caraaso is “a graduate of the William Mitchell College of Law (not an institution many would confuse with a Tier-I law school), [and] Carasso’s Lexis/Nexis entry lists his specialties as entertainment litigation and personal injury matters.” He doesn’t deny the description.
Indeed, had we been so inclined, we could have provided more detail in our original post about Carasso’s apparent mediocrity, such as the peculiar fact that this veteran (26-year) attorney lists on his website a grand total of one reported decision. His client in that case? None other than . . . Susan O’Malley, in an ugly lawsuit described in the following manner by the ruling: “This personal injury action arises out of an accident involving five teenagers, some illegal drugs, and a paintball gun.”
Despite the insinuations of his posting, Carasso has been rather cavalier with facts in his own work. In his filing against Karkhanis, Carasso—who describes “computer and software technology” as one of his firm’s “areas of practice”—stated that Karkhanis’ IP address is Patriotreturns.com. Patriotreturns.com is a domain name, not an IP address—a basic fact with which, we would think, an attorney who specializes in “computer and software technology” would be aware.
Finally, our post also mentioned that Carasso served as a consultant to a film called, “How Do You Spell Murder?” Carasso responds not by challenging the point in any way, but by terming himself “proud” of his work. The filmmakers, he adds, have also produced such high-quality intellectual fare as “ELVIS ’56.”
In the name of free speech, we think it’s best to let Counsel Carasso’s pride speak for itself.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
“More on Fantasizing "The New McCarthyism"
I continue to deal with the contentious themes of “guilt by association” and the imaginary new sacred cow, “the New McCarthyism” in response to a comment on FrontPage Magazine's reader forum.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article on my experience at a CUNY Forum titled, "Academic Freedom and the Attack on Diversity at CUNY” which was published on FrontPage Magazine, posted here on Democracy Project, Campus Watch, and also picked up on Daniel Pipes’ blog, demonstrating the urgency of these issues. The CUNY forum featured the panelists, Deborah Almontaser, founder and former principle of the Arabic language public school, Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), and CUNY faculty union official Susan O’Malley who filed a $2 million defamation lawsuit against Professor Emeritus Sharad Karkhanis.
There were a few interesting comments on FrontPage Magazine's reader forum one of which I chose to respond to online. The writer challenged my “obsession” with “guilt by association” which is basically similar to the accusations at the CUNY forum leveled at such awesome figures as Daniel Pipes, Dr. Karkhanis and CUNY Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld. They charged that a vast rightwing campaign of Islamophobia which they call “the New McCarthyism” is spreading throughout the nation “attacking” Arabs, Muslims, college professors and Senator Barack Obama as well, based upon the false premise of “guilt by association.”
In my article I argued that such allegations are pure fantasy that has risen to a new level of hysteria, with wild accusations of “racism” and “Islamophobia,” which has precluded any rational discussion about national security threats and sober concerns about stealth Islamic infiltration into government, education and academia. The title of my article initially was to be “Guilt by Association and Recruitment” but was changed by the editors of FrontPage Magazine. My original intent was to report on one of the panelists, Susan O’Malley who has endorsed and made efforts to recruit convicted terrorists for teaching jobs at CUNY. My interest was primarily in the lawsuit against Dr. Karkhanis, the real victim in all this furor, for having the courage to blow the whistle on O’Malley’s dubious activities within the CUNY system. The intent of her lawsuit was to bully and silence her critic, and trample his constitutional free speech rights in order to protect herself from scrutiny.
Slandering a good man from the auspices of a CUNY forum, and arguing on the merits of her case against Dr. Karkhanis is a disgrace and embarrassment to the entire CUNY system. O’Malley, a long-standing academic public figure had the gall to sit piously on the panel and use the forum for her personal agenda to paint a far-fetched portrait of lies as the victim of 13 years of “attacks” by a “crazy man” who has plagued her with false accusations of guilt by association similar to those directed at Muslims, Arabs, Ms. Almontaser, and Senator Obama. Susan O’Malley and company, who hold respectable positions of authority in academia as tenured professors and public officials, unsurprisingly want to deny the significance of their associations and support for criminals and terrorists, in order to avoid scrutiny and accountability for their actions. Regrettably, due to their status and authority, such paranoid fantasies as “the New McCarthyism” and frantic denials of “guilt by association” have trickled down into the body politic to become some of our latest sacred cows.”
"....Ms. Vera is dreadfully confused about the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” let me attempt to enlighten her about the legal system of the United States and basic civic duties of citizens, of which she seems to be sorely misinformed. The "presumption of innocence" is a basic doctrine of criminal law in which the government is required to prove the guilt of a criminal defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. For public service responsibilities, however, the process is the other way around. The people, not a government court of law must make critical judgments and informed choices in selecting the people who will serve them, and there is no presumption of innocence in this public domain. The burden of proof is on the individuals or institutions that aspire to public service, whether they’re public school principles, CUNY union officials or president of the United States. It is the civic duty of the citizens in a democracy, to judge their fitness to serve, and to continue to hold them accountable while in office. The “guilt” we’re talking about here, is their fitness for the job, not whether they’re good or evil people. Ms. Almontaser was the principle of a public school and O’Malley is a CUNY public figure, in both cases municipal positions paid for by taxpayer monies. The best way to judge public figures is by the company they keep, not just sugar-coated promises. They are working for you and me and their resumes must include good personal references, in order to be hired with our tax dollars. If they have numerous shady associations and dealings in their past, I wouldn’t hire them. I certainly wouldn’t hire someone with radical Islamic connections, or who endorses convicted terrorists."
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Fantasizing “The New McCarthyism”
By Phil OrensteinFrontPageMagazine.com 5/22/2008
"After the lengthy front page tribute in the New York Times treating Deborah Almontaser, founder and former principle of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), as the later day Mother Theresa, I thought the public forum she would be addressing later that evening, alongside her embattled sister in solidarity, City University of New York (CUNY) faculty union official Susan O’Malley, would be thronged by numerous admirers and reporters. But there were no such crowds or media. Wandering the endless corridors of the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, I bumped into the panelists Susan O’Malley and Ms. Almontaser, who were just as lost as I was, looking for the classroom where the public forum, “Academic Freedom and the Attack on Diversity at CUNY,” was to be held.
A little more than 20 people including CUNY faculty, students as well as the speakers showed up. The poor attendance may be due to the fact that the CUNY Senate Forum email list received the announcement on Sunday after 10 PM, the day before the event. I was the only person at this “public” forum sponsored by the Middle East Student’s Association (MESO), who attempted to speak up to dispute the cunning agenda and break through the monolithic conformity of the group.
Billed as an important forum to address the issues of Islamophobia at CUNY, the email announcement stated: “Around the country, Islamophobic and Anti-Arab attacks on professors have increased, most notably at Columbia and Barnard. This movement to attack and discredit dissent has been called "the New McCarthyism" – shutting down reasoned debate on important issues….. Ms. Almontaser will appear on this panel along with CUNY Professor Susan O' Malley and others working to expose the attack on academic freedom across the nation…There is some urgency here as these attacks are one tip of a vast ideological iceberg that is also threatening to impact the current election campaign.”
Although the issue of the “anti-Arab attacks” at Columbia and Barnard was not broached in the forum they were most likely referring to the recent public uproar of Columbia and Barnard alumni over the ill-advised tenure decision of Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj granted by virtue of her unimpressive scholarship of one book Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society based on flimsy evidence and hearsay, which purports that the historical origins of the State of Israel are fictitious.
What I witnessed was a closed forum dedicated to a veiled radical agenda, riddled by hysterical paranoia, name-calling, slanderous accusations against prominent scholars and city officials, and strategies for their ouster, where the panelists professed that “attacks” against Arabs and professors are a coordinated right wing smear campaign launched by Daniel Pipes, CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld and their ilk, which they dubbed the “New McCarthyism.” But Mr. Pipes and company whom they demonized with such venom, have simply exercised their First Amendment rights of critical journalism and free speech, civilly exchanging opinions and information in online magazine articles, speeches, op-eds and blogs, where all sides of the issues were often given a fair hearing in the media.
I was confused as to the reasons for their excessive paranoia. How are Pipes and company threatening their academic freedom? The so-called “New McCarthyites” have been vociferous, no doubt, but they demonstrated nothing resembling the violent student mob attacks at Columbia University on Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, because he expressed disagreeable views. Mr. Pipes and a few opinionated bloggers, including myself, are not U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy. What is this “vast ideological iceberg” that is “threatening to impact the current election campaign” of which the so-called attacks on academic freedom are only the tip?
....I waited until the end of the forum and approached Ms. Almontaser civilly and asked her a number of questions. I said to her that I am opposed to the KGIA, because public schools in the U.S. funded by the taxpayers, should not teach students in Arabic or in any one particular language other than English. She answered that there are dual language public schools that focus on Spanish language, or Chinese so there ought to be a school which immerses the student in Arabic language study, especially since there is such an urgent need for Arabic translators and diplomats. I replied that public schools should offer Arabic, Spanish, French and other languages as electives, but only English should be the standard in American schools. But she countered that the elective program is not good enough. We need a more comprehensive language program.
I asked her why she placed Muslim imams on the school’s advisory board and why was everyone involved so secretive. The difficulty of obtaining inside information to keep the academy transparent to the public was naturally a cause for concern. The names of the clerics, on the advisory board for instance, were only later revealed in a letter to the New York Sun. She blamed the Department of Education for the lack of transparency and claimed she was always forthcoming about the curriculum, the books, and the teachers, but DOE never put it on their website. However, sources from STM claim that queries submitted to the DOE suggest that there was no indication on Almontaser’s part that she was seeking transparency concerning the curriculum.Regarding the imams on her board, she answered that when she was designing the school she was seeking advice from her friends in the community and these imams were eager to offer help. Anyway, as Almontaser declared, the board has already been disbanded by the Department of Education. But Imam Abdur-Rashid, a board member who has written in a radical vein “on the way white Americans "robbed" Africans and Muslims of their heritage,” hasn’t heard the news of the board’s demise according to Andrea Peyser of the New York Post.
A bystander listening to our conversation interjected that rabbis and reverends were on the board as well as imams – all the major beliefs were represented. I replied that I am opposed to having any religious clerics, of any faith sit on a public school’s advisory board. It’s illegal, unconstitutional and breaks the separation of church and state. It’s fine for a private Yeshiva, Christian or Islamic school to employ religious figures, but not in a public school. I asked Ms. Almontaser why not launch a private school to immerse the student in Arabic language and culture, or a public school with a better Arabic elective program? She answered that she was no longer a principle and cannot make decisions. I thanked her for her open and honest answers and mentioned that I would investigate further.
What was most disturbing about the whole issue of the Arabic themed school, was the total lack of any American themed plans for a school where pride in country, patriotism and respect for our flag would be instilled in our youth. Instead of focusing on cultural immersion into balkanized entities of Arabic, Chinese or Spanish traditions and languages, the most pressing need today is teaching our children about the greatness of our common American heritage. The focus of education should be imparting a first-class knowledge of United States history. The history of America is the history of all people, all races, ethnicities and religions. The people of numerous cultures and national origins that immigrate to our shores in order to share in the bounties of the great American experiment must assimilate to American culture first, rather than the other way around. The moral rot of multiculturalism dictates that the assimilation process should proceed the other way around. They want to tear apart our country into disconnected identity groups, which will ultimately bring our nation to ruin. Instead of using the classroom to teach minority students and new immigrants that Western Civilization is the villain and they are its victims, teachers should be imparting the basic principles of assimilation into the fabric of American society. Teach the core values and ideals of America – courage, honor, honesty, religious freedom, individual rights, civics education, free enterprise, work ethic, etc. It is imperative for teachers to respect the flag, respect our country and be proud Americans. The heart of the problem in education today that is poisoning our next generation is that too many teachers and academics are just the opposite. That travesty was demonstrated in every spoken word at the forum and that is why the KGIA is such a dangerous idea that must be stopped.
....The third and final panelist was CUNY faculty union official Susan O’Malley, who has filed an ongoing $2 million defamation lawsuit against Professor Emeritus Sharad Karkhanis, for his audacity to state that it’s not appropriate to place convicted terrorists, Mohamed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg on the CUNY payroll. In his introduction, the moderator stated O’Malley has been “attacked” as a “so-called terrorist sympathizer” as he listed her credentials. She defended herself with the same cries of Islamophobia and racism as Almontaser but only O’Malley’s persecution came from a “crazy man” and his conservative allies. She cried that in her case, for at least 13 years she has been “attacked by a crazy man named Sharad Karkhanis.”
To explain the methods Karkhanis and his friends used to “attack” her, she expounded on the “craziness” of guilt by association that was used to smear KGIA and its founder, Ms. Almontaser. The same strategy is being used to attack Senator Obama, by associating him with controversial figures, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, the unrepentant former leader of the Weather Underground. The method is to take something irrelevant out of context and repeat it over and over again until it is cited as established fact. This leads to the “establishment of lies” which inadvertently appear in everyday conversation, as people rehash them as household words. That is how she was smeared by Karkhanis and she proceeded to tell her tale of anguish.
Karkhanis put out a newsletter, The Patriot Returns, which he distributes to 13,000 CUNY faculty, in which she’s been “red-baited, lesbian-baited and everything-baited,” called “a terrorist” and a “friend of terrorists,” and even declared that she was “at an al-Qaeda training camp.” She claimed to have endured “about 50 attacks” from the various issues of the newsletter. He doesn’t do it alone, she explained. It’s an effort of a group of rightwing conservatives, probably including Daniel Pipes, from whom she’s received emails. Jeffrey Wiesenfeld was also closely “connected with these attacks.”
O’Malley continued, saying he put out these “attacks” over and over, for such a long period of time that everywhere she went, even up in Albany, “people knew her as the butt of this person’s attacks” and were afraid to associate with her. The attacks became such a nightmare and she “started really freaking out.” She feared boarding an airplane one day and being turned away because she’s a terrorist. She said she would have loved to respond to his accusations, but it was just impossible, so she had her lawyer friend send a letter to Karkhanis asking him to “please stop attacking her, and he said he would not.” She wanted it to stop, she wanted quiet and since she was no longer head of the CUNY University Faculty Senate (UFS), she filed a libel suit against him.
She continued in defense of her actions to try to hire Mohamed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg. She explained that the “attacks” on her became most virulent after 9/11 when Yousry, an adjunct at York College was removed from the classroom without discussion or due process rights, after he was convicted for aiding terrorism. As UFS chair she was in a position to protect faculty, especially adjuncts whose “academic freedom and right to due process were limited.” After calling her UFS office in desperation since he couldn’t find work, she tried to find a teaching position for him since his academic career and his life were destroyed after his dismissal. She knew Yousry to be “very fine teacher” and a “man of stature.” She rationalized that he should be considered “innocent until proven guilty which is part of the law in this country.”
Essentially, Ms. O’Malley is either unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system or is feigning ignorance as a cover for her actions in her capacity as CUNY union official. Yousry was convicted along with co-conspirator Lynne Stewart in federal court and found guilty as charged for providing material support for terrorism and defrauding the government. How could a man with a terrorist conviction be “a man of stature?”
O’Malley conveniently forgot to mention a few things about Mohamed Yousry. He was removed from his adjunct position only after he was indicted, but was paid salary for the entire semester. O’Malley should also be grateful that Yousry did indeed receive contractual and legal rights of due process as his grievance followed all the proper channels from “step one” at the college level all the way up to arbitration with all expenses paid by dues paying union members. Mr. Yousry lost his case. This was all spelled out in plain English in The Patriot Returns 35.4. What makes her think that “the CUNY administration was going to roll out a welcome mat in CUNY for this terrorist and put him back on the payroll after his conviction in Federal Court and after CUNY prevailed in arbitration?”
She has yet to answer the following question raised in the same issue of The Patriot Returns: “Has Queen O'Malley ever made a "Job Wanted" announcement like this for a non-convicted, non-violent, peace loving American educator for a job in CUNY? There are hundreds of qualified people looking for teaching jobs. Why does she prefer convicted terrorists who are bent on harming our people and our nation, over peace-loving Americans?”
In a similar fashion, O’Malley sought to help find employment for former John Jay College adjunct Susan Rosenberg who was a Weather Underground terrorist convicted as an accomplice in the murder of two police officers and a security guard and for her role in the 1983 bombing of the United States Capitol and was imprisoned for a 58 year sentence for the possession of 700 pounds of dynamite and weapons. She served 16 years of her sentence until she was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
However, the fact is that out of a total of 40 issues of The Patriot Returns, Karkhanis published over a 15 year span, only nine actually mentioned Susan O’Malley by name, and nowhere did Karkhanis state that she was a “terrorist” or that she was “at an al-Qaeda training camp.” He simply reported the facts and voiced his objections, often satirically, regarding her compulsive efforts to find teaching jobs for convicted terrorists, in her capacity as UFS/CUNY chair, Trustee ex-officio and PSC Executive Committee member. He exposed O’Malley’s letters to the New York Post and the Daily News defending Rosenberg’s right to teach, her postings on the CUNY /UFS Discussion Forum seeking teaching opportunities at CUNY for Yousry and Rosenberg, her appeals to the staff at a UFS Plenary Session for CUNY to hire Yousry, and other indications of her obsession to employ convicted terrorists. In their defense she downplayed the gravity of their convictions arguing in Yousry’s case, “it's becoming increasingly clear that he really did just about nothing.” In Rosenberg’s defense she argued in her letters from the standpoint that rehabilitation is one of the goals of the U.S. criminal justice system. Susan Rosenberg, having served her time, and having been “evaluated satisfactorily by her department,” should now “be integrated back into society” with a suitable teaching assignment as planned by John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The Patriot Returns focused on numerous CUNY union officials who had a penchant for idolizing criminals and terrorists, of whom O’Malley was a mere lightweight. The few times Karkhanis wrote about O’Malley, he would typically engage in collegial satire referring to her as the “Queen of Released Time” for seeking way too many CUNY leadership positions in lieu of teaching assignments. In the “Rumor Column,” he wondered whether the “Queen” would abdicate her throne to take the Harvard presidency after Larry Summers resigned. Typically, The Patriot Returns expends the most ink excoriating the PSC leadership for spending the faculty member’s union dues on inappropriate political causes while they repeatedly failed to deliver a beneficial contract. While they were actively mobilizing the CUNY membership to march against the Republican Party, organizing anti-war campus teach-ins after 9/11, donating the member’s dues money to support the legal defense of imprisoned terrorists Lori Berenson and Sami al-Arian and a host of other radical causes too numerous to mention here, the member’s health and welfare fund of $15 million dwindled to just about nothing. PSC/CUNY, of which O’Malley is an Executive Committee member, issued a Delegate Assembly Resolution donating $5000 and demanding the immediate release of Lori Berenson, currently serving a 20 year prison term in Peru on terrorism charges.
O’Malley had plenty of opportunities to take on Dr. Karkhanis and refute his accusations. She could have responded in the Clarion, the CUNY faculty union newspaper or the UFS faculty newsletter, which at one point she was an editor. Instead she chose to hire a lawyer and sue Karkhanis in New York State Supreme Court in order to silence his critical tongue and shut down The Patriot Returns. The poor retired professor, Dr. Karkhanis’s First Amendment rights have been threatened more than anyone of the fakers in the room.
Meanwhile, Prof. O’Malley continued to lecture on the “New McCarthyism,” the vast movement targeting her and her comrades through email harassment, blogs and other forms of “bullying through the internet.” This vast movement holds an ideology that seeks to destroy rather than talk. She then directed her venom toward CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a STM advisor whom she described as so anti-Muslim that it’s a contradiction for him to be on the CUNY board. She mentioned her discovery in the New York Times article that he worked for the FBI. While she knew that “he has been very, very conservative,” this was the “hole in his career” that she didn’t know about, in trying to “piece together his life.” She had spent a number of years as the faculty representative on the CUNY Board of Trustees and debated with him constantly. A number of panelists and people in the audience broke into an emotional discussion about the CUNY board and why they should remove Wiesenfeld. One person said Wiesenfeld was behind the “attacks” on KGIA and as part of “a vigilante squad, a hate group” agreeing with O’Malley that his anti-Muslim credentials make it a contradiction for him to be on the board. Another described the makeup of the board as mostly conservative, having been appointed by a Republican administration, and therefore doesn’t care too much about the students. Naturally, Wiesenfeld is the loudest. They continued to demonize Wiesenfeld, reciting a laundry list of character faults and random insults without an intelligible word about the substance of what he had to say. His “devious personal attacks make any kind of constructive debate impossible,” as he “screams louder than you,” to show he is “more powerful than you.”
Later on the discussion came back to Wiesenfeld, as someone in the room requested that they return to their favorite topic, how to get him off the CUNY board. This person said she wrote to the CUNY board about Wiesenfeld regarding a “vile interaction” she observed between him and someone else in what was a “major, major attack,” that was “really outrageous.” They basically denied it saying “he didn’t do it in his capacity on the Board of Trustees.” She described being “shocked” meeting him. “He walked by me, pushed me, and cursed me out.” She questioned “if it is so difficult to get him off the board” and “what more is there for us to do,” to speak out as a community, that “we won’t stand for it.” The room then launched into a brainstorming session for Wiesenfeld’s ouster. Some suggested writing letters, a good article in Inside Higher Ed, or local press. One said that the only way would be through the chair, Benno Schmidt since Wiesenfeld was appointed by the governor and has to finish out his term. O’Malley added that Wiesenfeld and the rest of his coordinated movement have been making the rounds of the Republican political circuit, speaking out against Muslims and the KGIA, honoring Dr. Karkhanis as Educator of the Year, and controlling the microphone and media. As they strategized how to take back the microphone and the press, they conveniently forgot to mention the sympathetic article in the morning New York Times, and the knee-jerk reaction of eight million New Yorkers to venerate anyone who paints themselves as a victim of intolerance and hatred. Hopefully, as one person mentioned, the new governor David Paterson could remove CUNY chairman Benno Schmidt and their group could become more active in the vetting process for trustees. Perhaps Paterson would help their cause and bring back CUNY to its original mission, returning to the policies of open admissions and affirmative action to serve all New Yorkers regardless of their racial status or aptitude. This last comment received a generous round of applause.
Actually, trustee Wiesenfeld is a hero to many New Yorkers for his efforts in bringing higher academic standards to CUNY. As a result of abolishing the failed policies of open admissions and remedial education that turned the once great academic institution into a worthless “diploma mill,” CUNY now is experiencing a wonderful renaissance, where even minority enrollment is up and their diplomas have real value.
At one point in the discussion the true condescending nature toward “people of color” slipped out accidentally. Almontaser described the KGIA as a school that caters to children of Arab descent immersed in their own culture, but welcomes students of all backgrounds and ethnicities as well. But only a dozen of the 60 students presently enrolled are Arab. Her dream that this school would function as a home to Arabs and Muslims was shattered, and now regrettably the school caters mostly to non-Arabs. One person in the audience said that mostly African Americans and Puerto Ricans enrolled their kids at KGIA because they think it would lead to a great job as a translator, as others in the room seemed to agree and chuckle quietly. How telling that they should look down their noses at the very people they claim to protect and defend, for attempting to rise above their surroundings and strive to build valuable marketable skills.
While posing as the paragons of diversity and multiculturalism, Ms. Almontaser and Prof. O’Malley betray a patronizing nature that they try to conceal. They demonize their critics in order to bully them into silence, while posturing as hapless victims of a hateful “vigilant squad” of anti-Muslim “attacks.” The same type of scrutiny that they christen “guilt by association” that is used to vet politicians running for the highest offices must be utilized to examine the actions of lesser public officials.
No one who chooses a leadership role is immune from scrutiny. Echoing the sentiments of President Harry Truman, Hillary Clinton admonished Senator Obama: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If a public official were to associate with David Duke, participate in Stormfront rallies and condone the message of “White Pride” T-shirts, there would be universal condemnation and justified public outrage. Whether this person was a public school principle, a CUNY union official or Barack Obama, he or she would summarily be toast. Any teacher will tell you that a student caught hanging out with troublemakers would be severely reprimanded. These lesser public officials likewise should continue to be rigorously vetted and judged by virtue of the troublemakers they associate with and recruit. Any attempt to thwart the process of freedom of criticism via the courts or any other forms of intimidation or censorship, will be viewed as a direct threat to the First Amendment rights of all and a danger to our national security at a time of global crisis and Islamic terrorism."
Give 'em hell, Phil! And keep it coming!!