According to Joy Karega-Mason, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at Oberlin College, a group of “Rothschild-led banksters [sic]” were responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks; the slaughter at the offices of Charlie Hebdo was carried out by the Mossad; and Jews and Zionists have controlled every American president. These and similar statements filling Karega-Mason’s Facebook page recently came to the attention of Oberlin students and faculty as well as the public at large. So far, the college president and other administrators have alternated tepid condemnations with expressions of fealty to the principle of academic freedom. Abraham Socher, an Oberlin faculty colleague, comments:
I do not contest Professor Karega-Mason’s right to say whatever she wants on Facebook or anywhere else. . . . But anyone who is tempted to think that what she has said was not anti-Semitic or can be creatively contextualized away ought to think about what would constitute anti-Semitic speech, and whether they would apply such alibis or restrictive, ahistorical definitions to any other form of hate speech. Perhaps a simpler way to put it is this: [a graphic posted by Karega-Mason] seems to have originated on neo-Nazi websites. Did it somehow become less repellent when Professor Karega-Mason posted it on her Facebook page? And, if so, why? . . .
In my sixteen years at Oberlin College, I have never publicly criticized a colleague. But it seems to me that to look quickly away from Professor Karega-Mason’s posts without explaining exactly what is wrong with them would be to confirm that Oberlin College is indifferent to—or at least very squeamish about [recognizing]—anti-Semitism.