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Free Brooklyn College: Sign the Petition to Support Academic Freedom at CUNY

6:47 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Brooklyn College campus [hdr image]

If you live in Brooklyn, you have probably heard of the threat from members of the New York City Council against Brooklyn College.  If you live elsewhere, chances are that, unless you are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, or the struggle against them, you’ve missed his one.

In a nutshell, in late January a controversy arose over the political science department at Brooklyn College sponsoring an upcoming appearance there by two advocates of Global BDS.  That movement, now in its ninth year, advocates putting pressures upon the increasingly apartheid Israeli state, similar to the sanctions imposed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, against the increasingly apartheid South African state.  Here is a description of the controversy, from a friendly point of view:

At Brooklyn College, a student chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine organized a forthcoming panel with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti to discuss the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The political science department agreed to co-sponsor it. When certain individuals hostile to BDS heard about this event they raised an outcry. The outcry started with Alan Dershowitz, who demanded that the political science department either withdraw its sponsorship or ‘balance’ it with a voice – namely his – that is critical of the panelists. Very quickly this became a city and state-wide issue, and various politicians, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, began to make the same demands. Now, quite disturbingly, the New York City Council is threatening to withhold future funding for CUNY unless the political science department either cancels the event or withdraws its sponsorship.

Advocates for the college’s position have emerged, including constitutional attorney, Glenn Greenwald, Palestinian rights advocate Andrew Sullivan, and – surprisingly – MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes (as described by Phil Weiss):

A “who’s who” list of New York politicians is trying to shut down the conversation. Hayes mentions Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler. “I understand why there’s an outcry” from those who find BDS odious — he says, covering his bases. But Hayes is clear about the academic-freedom principle and about the highly “selective” concern for balance in this instance and not others. What if the University of Alabama tried to disinvite a gay speaker? Hayes says that some of those politicians “browbeating” the college have been on his show. Good liberals. Yes: Progressive Except Palestine, PEP.

Greenwald has written several columns now on the threats against the college. Most recently, he centered on comments by NYC council member, Lew Fidler, whose threats against Brooklyn College funding seem to have been the most explicit yet.  Greenwald:

How can anyone not be seriously alarmed by this? These threats are infinitely more destructive than any single academic event could ever possibly be…Plainly, this entire controversy has only one ‘principle’ and one purpose: to threaten, intimidate and bully professors, school administrators and academic institutions out of any involvement in criticisms of Israel.

Fidler’s chilling letter to BC President Karen Gould can be read here (scribd).

One speaker at the upcoming event, prominent feminist philosopher, Judith Butler, has defended herself many times against specious “anti-semitism” charges (Butler is Jewish), most notably, in her profound essay on anti-semitism, in the London Review of Books, eleven years ago:

In holding out for a distinction to be made between Israel and Jews, I am calling for a space for dissent for Jews, and non-Jews, who have criticisms of Israel to articulate; but I am also opposing anti-semitic reductions of Jewishness to Israeli interests. The ‘Jew’ is no more defined by Israel than by anti-semitism. The ‘Jew’ exceeds both determinations, and is to be found, substantively, as a historically and culturally changing identity that takes no single form and has no single telos. Once the distinction is made, discussion of both Zionism and anti-semitism can begin, since it will be as important to understand the legacy of Zionism and to debate its future as to oppose anti-semitism wherever we find it.

The other main speaker in the upcoming BC event is Palestinian, Omar Barghouti, echoed Butler in a 2011 interview with The Guardian on Global BDS, which he helped found:

Here is what the petition in support of Brooklyn College’s position states:

We the undersigned write in support of the decision by Brooklyn College’s political science department to co-sponsor a panel discussion with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. We urge CUNY President Karen Gould to resist attempts by those who have attempted to intimidate CUNY into canceling, changing, or withdrawing its sponsorship for the panel. We are especially concerned that the New York City Council has threatened to withhold further money for CUNY if it does not either cancel the event or withdraw its sponsorship. This is a grave threat to academic freedom and sets a terrible precedent for the future.

You can sign it here.

The goal was 500 signatures. It currently as 1,612.

(If you click “SIGN’” button, you can leave the page without hitting the “pay” buttons on the succeeding page.  I didn’t pay, and my name now shows up.)

I signed – as a college professor in favor of free speech.

Will you sign?

MSNBC Host Trashed by Obama Supporters for Not Always Calling Him “President Barack Obama”

1:22 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

This is ridiculous, but maybe it is time to talk about it some more:

I’m a blogger, not a journalist, reporter or commentator for anything remotely resembling the mainstream media.  But I got journalism training, took journalism classes, was news director for one radio station and public affairs director for another.  Years and years and years ago.

There’s a rule called “first reference.”  In my blog articles, when I link to an article from the New York Times, the first time I mention that paper, it is the “New York Times.”  From then on, it is the “NYT,” which is accepted blog shorthand.  I even italicize New York Times and NYT.  When I remember.  But I don’t remember why I do that.  I think it is from a style book.

First reference:

When someone is first mentioned in a news story, their first and last name should be typed out. From then on, their last name can be used as a reference to that person. When the first and last name of a person is used as the initial reference to that person, this is called first reference.

The purpose of only using the persons last name through out the rest of the story, is to keep the article brief and straight to the point

The Associated Press and New York Times have style books.  The AP calls theirs a stylebook, the NYT‘s is a style guide.I still have my pre-WWW copy of the AP Stylebook.  There are a lot of other style books and manuals out there, and many mainstream publications or organizations have their own rules.

In the MSNBC segment, they mention that reporters or TV commentators sometimes go as far as first name on second reference (2nd reference means all references after the first one).  In Alaska, we’re probably more that way than any other state, because so many people know each other.

It wasn’t just Sarah.  It is Lisa and Don and Mark and so on.  Until he died, it was Ted, or St. Ted.

Interestingly, nobody – I mean nobody – calls our current governor “Sean.”  Most Alaskans don’t consider him one of us.  I like Don’s (Rep. Don Young’s) name for him best – “Captain Zero,” which describes what Parnell is – a cypher .

I decided back in late 2009 to not EVER describe our current president as “President Obama” unless it was absolutely required for sake of accuracy.  At the same time, I promised I’d honor him with his formal title if he did any of the following:

1).  Evacuate the torture camp at Guantanamo Bay

2).  Prosecute and imprison at least one of the many torturers or murderers we have employed there, and now shelter.

3).  Prosecute and imprison at least five major banksters for their crimes that cost us trillions.

Since then, I’ve gotten new gripes, but if he did any of the above three, I’d begin to address him by the ceremonial title he owns in name.  But I never call the guy “OilyBomber” or “Obomber,” or whatever.  Nor am I willing to call him “Barack.”

Besides, didn’t we have a revolution between 1775 and 1781 that was supposed to end the concept of royalty and high titles?

What do you think?