University Professors Love ‘Social Justice’ and Critical Race Theory, but Hate Israel

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The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) earlier this year courageously took a stand against “threats to academic freedom.” The AAUP statement identifies the most serious threats to academic freedom today.

No, the threat to academic freedom, according to the AAUP, is not the “social justice” political ideology that has become mandatory for all university employees today. Adherence to this ideology means prioritizing “diversity,” agreeing that members of certain racial, gender, sexuality, ethnic, and ability categories are desirable, preferable, and should be included, while members of the others are undesirable and must be excluded.

As well, “social justice” means accepting and advocating the “equity” view that human inequality has one source only: racism and discrimination. It’s forbidden to mention other sources of inequality, such as individual differences in capabilities, preferences, social background, and culture.

Furthermore, one is pledged to “inclusion,” and thus obliged to recognize that “speech is violence” and that offering opinions different from other university members, especially those from preferred categories, makes them “unsafe” and makes the university a “dangerous” place.

No, according to the AAUP, the threat to academic freedom isn’t the obligation to state your commitment and loyalty to “social justice” in order even to apply for a job or a promotion. Or the requirement not only to swear allegiance to “social justice,” but also to demonstrate that commitment through actions past and projected into the future.

Nor presumably is it a threat to academic freedom to condition a review of a research grant application on demonstrating how the research would advance “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” A not sufficiently vigorous commitment to DEI rules out even a consideration of a research application, even in the most esoteric corners of STEM fields.

The tens of thousands of “diversity and inclusion” bureaucrats employed at universities don’t appear to be a concern of the AAUP. These updated political commissars, following Stalinist and Maoist guidelines, have been hired to enforce “social justice” conformity. Deviants must go to re-education, and if that fails, punishment and isolation follow, and finally full cancellation of the deviants by firing. Add to this the fact that the majority of university teachers are “sessional lecturers” on short-term contracts, which are easy not to renew, so there isn’t any security of tenure for the majority of professors, and thus the pressure for conformity is very strong.

The AAUP apparently doesn’t think that the banning of speech or the cancellation of those who offend the champions of “social justice” and its beneficiaries is a threat to academic freedom. What then does the AAUP identify as a major threat to academic freedom?

The AAUP thinks that—wait for it—Jews are a major threat to academic freedom. More specifically, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism is a serious threat. The reason is that, according to the AAUP statement, the definition “equates criticism of the policies of the state of Israel with antisemitism.” The problem with this claim is that it’s a blatant lie. The Holocaust Remembrance definition states specifically that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Perhaps the underlying problem is that the AAUP sees the world through the lens of the intersectional matrix, in which Jews are (for once) identified as “white” and therefore, like all other whites, oppressors of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color). This North American ideological grid is then, counter factually, imposed over the Middle East, so that Israel is identified as “white” oppressor and the Palestinians as oppressed “people of color.” The people claiming this obviously have never looked at Israelis and Palestinians.

Of course, the problem of the irrelevance of nugatory racial differences in Israel is solved if all “oppressors” are by definition “white” and all “victims” are by definition “people of color.” The race matrix is handy, however inapplicably, for identifying villains and heroes around the world. The AAUP intersection approach is shown by their vigorous defense of critical race theory, which they claim is a “practice” but “not a prescribed way of thinking.”

Of course, the AAUP doesn’t see all Jews as villains. They are very keen on the “Fifty-six scholars of antisemitism, Jewish history, and the Israel-Palestine conflict [who] have called the IHRA definition ‘highly problematic and controversial,’ noting that it privileges the political interests of the state of Israel and suppresses discussion and activism on behalf of Palestinian rights.”

Yes, there are some Jews whose devotion to progressive ideology and Marxism guides their opinions, but they don’t speak for all Jews or all scholars of antisemitism and Middle East politics, nor does their ethnicity make their opinions factual or sound.

The AAUP is further agitated over various state regulations that protect citizens from discrimination on religious grounds, such as antisemitism, and that the ban on vilifying Israel through extreme rhetoric would allegedly lead to “an unconstitutionally overbroad prohibition of protected speech on matters of public concern.”

They are as well concerned that state restrictions on critical race theory would ban teaching young children that America is systemically racist and evil, that “whiteness” is evil and all whites are oppressors, that BIPOC are all victims and cannot be anything else, that merit, achievement, and capitalism are evil covers for racism. And heaven forfend that state legislatures ban the school grooming of children for the gay and trans community, and the chemical and surgical transitions of young children. All of which the AAUP apparently sees as “academic freedom.”

The AAUP accurately reflects the 90 percent of all American university professors who hold and advocate Marxist and neo-Marxist views of the world, ranging from far-left progressivism, to socialism, to communism. These professors force all social and cultural considerations into ideological procrustean beds, ignoring the realities and complexities of real life.

University Professors Love ‘Social Justice’ and Critical Race Theory, but Hate Israel

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Philip Carl Salzman

Philip Carl Salzman served as professor of anthropology at McGill University from 1968 to 2018. He is the author of Culture and Conflict in the Middle East; the founding chair of the Commission on Nomadic Peoples of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences; the founding editor of Nomadic Peoples; and the author of Black Tents of Baluchistan; Pastoralism: Equality, Hierarchy, and the State; Thinking Anthropologically, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East; and Understanding Culture.

Read all stories by Philip Carl Salzman