A sixty-two-year-old tenured professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Joseph Manson recently decided to retire early—to escape an intellectually stifling environment where political correctness reigns. By way of example, Manson cites a colleague whose empirical research on crime yielded results that some of his fellow anthropologists labeled “racist.” In the ensuing controversy, one “professor tried to organize a mob to demand the professional destruction of a colleague.” Munson then turns to the problem of anti-Semitism:
Also typically of elite U.S. universities, UCLA is awash in Jew-hatred thinly disguised as anti-Zionism. In May 2019, one of my colleagues, Kyeyoung Park, invited a guest lecturer, the San Francisco State University professor Rabab Abdulhadi, to her class to proclaim that Zionism is a form of white supremacism. Unlike [other colleagues who were harassed or anathematized for their beliefs], Park was celebrated by the faculty and administration as a courageous, embattled exponent of academic freedom. The Anthropology Graduate Students Association chimed in with a resolution agreeing with Abdulhadi. More recently, the Asian-American Studies Department posted to its website a statement accusing Israel of settler colonialism, racial apartheid, and so on.
Irrespective of the content, doesn’t it infringe on the academic freedom of individual professors (and postdocs and graduate students, whose careers are dependent on faculty recommendations) for an academic department to take a political stand on behalf of all its members? Several other Jewish faculty [members] and I have made that case to UCLA and the University of California leadership to no avail.
A 2019 article by Liel Leibovitz, . . . argued that the increasingly open hostility of American universities toward Jews is inseparable from the universities’ increasingly brazen rejection of two values that, during the 20th century, made them into places where Jews specifically, and ambitious and open-minded people generally, could thrive: meritocracy and free debate. In 2019, I thought that Leibovitz was exaggerating and rather overwrought. Everything that’s happened since has shown that he was spot on.