ADC and Khalidi

Friday, March 11, 2005

ADC and Khalidi

I'm a member of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (known as ADC), so I was on the mailing list for the New York chapter's recent letter to New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein about the Khalidi affair.

Will we hear from right-wingers who complain that their on-campus comrades are being silenced by the political correctness police? (This is more than a rhetorical question; the Voltaire position is often taken by people all over the political spectrum, e.g., liberals who defend the right of racists to vent their vile ideas, so there must be some principled conservatives out there who find this case troubling).

From the ADC's letter.

According to reports in the local media, Professor Khalidi will be prevented from participating in future DOE Professional Development Program trainings because of "his past statements." These statements were never identified and there is no suggestion that the Department of Education was displeased with Professor Khalidi's conduct in the Program. Indeed, the Program's creator was quoted by theNew York Times as saying that there was "nothing controversial, nothing political" in Professor Khalidi's classroom presentation; the same article als onotes that there were "no known complaints" about his lecture from any of theparticipating teachers ("Some Limits on Speech in Classrooms," February 28, 2005).

In the absence of any reference to particular statements attributed to Professor Khalidi, or any evidence of an independent investigation by the DOE into the accusations against him, the only reasonable conclusion is that your office blacklisted Professor Khalidi in response to political pressure by local tabloids and political figures.

To be fair to Klein, his failure to identify the "past statements" isn't as opaque as it might at first sound, since local newspapers had reported, repeatedly, on controversial statements Khalidi had allegedly made. The reports have been disputed, and there have been claims that the quotations were distorted or used in a misleading way without any context. But the basic point--that the guy is being banned for his political opinions, rather than for the quality of the work he's done for the program--still stands.

Disclaimer: To anticipate a possible line of comments, I do not agree with everything the ADC says about Israel, let alone with everything Khalidi has said.

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