Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Thinly Veiled Attack on a Trustee?

Today’s number of Inside Higher Ed includes a feature on the recent meeting of the Modern Language Association, in particular on debates within the MLA’s Delegate Assembly over resolutions defending the academic freedom of campus critics of policies and politics in the Middle East. A resolution by Montclair State University’s Grover Furr called on the MLA to “defend the academic freedom and the freedom of speech of faculty and invited speakers to criticize Zionism and Israel” but did not refer to the Jewish state’s supporters. The resolution that prevailed acknowledged that the Middle East was a subject of “intense debate,” and stated that it was “essential that colleges and universities protect faculty rights to speak forthrightly on all sides of the issue.”

Among the voices heard in these exchanges was that of our favorite defender of free speech, Prof. "Sue," who also happens to be the Executive Director of the MLA's Radical Caucus. “Susan O’Malley, a professor of English at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, said that CUNY’s trustees tried to prevent an adjunct at her campus from teaching the novel The Scar of David. CUNY officials could not be reached for comment, but press accounts suggest that the book was in fact taught.”

As by all other reports it seemed to have been. Since O’Malley is such a stickler for facts, and so willing to file libel suits against her critics, her comments in Chicago are particularly odd. Was she making a mistake when representing events at Kingsborough? If so, she owes the unnamed members of CUNY’s Board of Trustees an apology. Or was she continuing her personal, and the PSC’s political, feud with Trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld? If so, perhaps Mr. Wiesenfeld might want to consider legal action against her.


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