Professor William Robinson Violated Academic Freedom

I have taught for 52 years and worked with 15,000 students but never in my career did I ever violate academic freedom in the manner displayed by Professor William Robinson, a Jewish professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Robinson, and his defender Noam Chomsky, have raised the banner of academic freedom. Unfortunately, it was Robinson who violated this concept, not those attacking him. Professor Robinson was teaching a course, “Sociology of Globalization” and during this course, he sent an email to all students in his class which claimed; “Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw- a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians, subjecting them to the slow death of malnutrition, disease, and despair, nearly two years before their subjection to the quick death of Israeli bombs. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide.” He compared the Israel invasion of Gaza to the Holocaust.

Professor Robinson is either, (a) ignorant of the Holocaust, (b) stupid, (c) a malicious sick man. Let’s examine the manner in which he violated his role as a professor.

1. He sent an email to all students which meant his views impacted the entire class and it was impossible for a student to respond to the entire class.
2. This was not a class dealing with the Holocaust so Professor Robinson did not have any awareness of the knowledge base of his students regarding the Holocaust or even what they knew about what is meant by genocide. We can assume a high percent of his students did not have this knowledge and thus were unable to refute the professor’s ignorant statements.
3. A professor has the power of giving a “grade” which means there is no level playing field when he introduced a controversial issue. Students responding to him risked having grades lowered if they challenged their professor on a topic that was NOT part of the curriculum.
4. A professor with a sense of intellectual honesty should have provided students readings, videos or access to opposing views if he wanted to introduce this comparison. The majority of his students lacked knowledge and his responsibility was to ensure they would be in an intellectual position to respond in an informed manner.

I do not know if Professor Robinson is an anti-Semite. I do know in this incident he displayed poor teaching procedures and displayed an ignorance of the Holocaust that is inexcusable for a college professor.

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  • Mike Jackson

    Regarding #1: It’s been a while since I took classes, but is it in fact considered a violation of academic standards now for a professor to communicate to his class outside of the lecture hall? Also, I attended many classes (in fact most) where we were lectured without a chance to respond and debate. That has the same effect as your “impossible for a student to respond” complaint against Robinson for sending an email, to which they can respond (hit reply) although not always to the entire class. (I assume you checked and know that the “reply to all” function was disabled.)

    It’s been many years, but has college changed as much as your post indicates? Are professors communications with students as constrained and regulated as you indicate?

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    I did not say communication between professors and students is constrained. Any open minded professor would welcome diversity of views and a professor who impedes student responses is intellectually and ethically in error. Professor Robinson could have waited until the class was in session, invited someone who disagreed with his views to present and alternative view and engaged his students in an intellectual discussion.

  • Mike Jackson

    “I did not say communication between professors and students is constrained. ”

    You just did it again. You called him “intellectually and ethically in error” because he sent an email rather than wait until class, invite a speaker and so on, something I am sure is not common in the classrooms. What percentage of classes include as standard fare an opposing speaker to argue against the instructer? I often wished there were just that in certain classes (sociology, poli-sci etc.) but it was rare enough that a charge of “intellectually and ethically in error” seems grossly overwrought.

    That’s a severe charge (along with the “stupid…malicous sick man” ad hominems) for something that is S.O.P among instructers.

    I am especially confused by the remark you made regarding grading and the implicit threat that it presents to the students. That always exists in all classrooms, but that’s not my point. Why do you object so harshly to the professor communicating his views to his students outside the classroom (where they would be able to respond to the entire class) when you state that students responding to their professors risk having their grades lowered? You’ve got college professors pinned in a corner where they would be scared to death of discussing any issue in any manner for fear of being charged with violation of academic standards.

    My opinion: you don’t like what he said and you are trying to “balance” the attacks on his rights by charging him with violating a host of academic standards that do not exist. The ad hominems… not helpful to you and not up to any academic standards.

    For the record, I think that his comparison is overwrought but it is common to hear professors make overwrought remarks in fields like sociology, history, poli-sci, Afrocentric studies and so on.

    Thanks for allowing me to respond to your post and for your responses.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    The course is NOT about the Holocaust. The topic is complex and few students have a grasp of what is meant by “genocide” or event the word “Holocaust.” I have taught for fifty years in college and have an ethical responsibility not to impose my views on students concerning topics not being studied in the course which contain serious emotional and intellectual matters that have personal implications for students. If I decide to introduce such topics, I have an intellectual responsibility to provide readings to my students which offer other perspectives. I do not insult my students to get across my views.
    There ARE academic standards when a professor decides to give personal comments on topics that are controversial in personal terms to students.
    Are you saying, in this course, he could make comments such as: “blacks were cowards not to rebel against slave masters?” Or, “the Irish immigrants were filthy stupid people?” To make a claim that Israel actions in Gaza(which I opposed in this blog) are akin to the Holocaust is outrageous and bordering on complete ignorance of the Holocaust.

  • supporter

    You are so ignorant and wrong. Wake up from your sleeping status and see the wrongdoing Israel is committing. You don’t get any more sympathy because of the holocaust, you don’t get any more free cards. We don’t feel sorry for you, you are worse than a terror-network, because you involve decent allies. You are the only industrial western country that is allowed to kill and mutilate with the world watching, the biggest mistake in history was to grant israel to the Jews. It will not take long for the world to see what scumbags you are, and when they do you will not get any more sympathy or money.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    The issue has nothing to do with the policies of Israel, many of which I condemn on this blog. The issue is academic freedom for students and professors.
    I do not see anything in your attack on Israel about the 750,000 Jews who were forced to flee for their lives from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq (Jews predate Muslims in Iraq by over 1,500 years), Yemen, and elsewhere in the 1940s and 1950s. The Ottoman Empire census for 1895 in Jerusalem was: Jews, 26,000, Muslims, 7,000, Christians- 7,000.
    Jews lived in the province of Palestine in the Ottoman Empire and in the 1880s, the Ottoman rulers invited more Jews to settle. Exactly who is ignorant?

  • Mike Jackson

    “The issue is academic freedom for students and professors.”

    Yes, yes, thank you for your staunch defense of professors’ academic freedom (snort), Mr. Stopsky. And thank you for displaying for all to see the condition of your personal integrity as you label Professor Robinson a ” “stupid…malicous sick man”, “intellectually and ethically in error” for SENDING AN OPINIONATED EMAIL (!! unheard of !!) to his students and then declare that your slurs are motivated by the highest ideals of academic freedom.

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  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    I do not challenge the knowledge of Professor Robinson in dealing with diplomatic issues in the Middle East. A professor is in an unusual situation with students. He has greater knowledge and therefore when dealing with sensitive issues, one must be careful not to insult the dignity of students. Since he was NOT teaching a course on the Holocaust, one can assume most of his students were not aware of what makes the Holocaust unusual in human history. It was the first time a government systematically, using modern technology, set about killing every single human being on the basis of their birth status. The most similar in modern history is the massacre of Tutsi by the Hutu in Rwanda. See the transcript of the famous Wannsee Conference in January, 1942. To compare the invasion of Gaza with the Nazi plan is intellectually insulting. Israel has never had any plan to kill all Muslims– 15% of Israel is Arab Muslim. Arabs attended Israel universities and are in all sectors of society. Yes, there is discrimination against Muslim Arabs.
    Professor Robinson was imposing his knowledge on his students who were intellectually ill prepared to respond. If he wanted his students to discuss the topic, why not offer a reading list, allow students to gain knowledge of the Holocaust and then present his views to the class- face to face? I do NOT oppose the right of professors to present their views to a class. But, we have intellectual and moral responsibilities when presenting views that some students would regard as insulting to conduct ourselves in an intellectual an moral manner. How would a student in the class who has a living relative who survived the Holocaust feel if unable to respond to a professor who used an invalid comparison?
    I have taught for fifty years in college, taught over 15,000 students and have never acted in the manner of Professor Robinson. In dealing with controversial material that carries emotional connotations, I endeavor to respect the feelings and sensibilities of students. I have been teaching Muslim female students and would never make insulting remarks about the wearing of the chador and female rights. It is not part of my course although I have very negative feelings and beliefs concerning treatment of Muslim women. Just because I am a college professor does not give me license to insult students and wrap myself in the mantle of academic freedom.

  • Dave

    It’s 2009, not fifty years ago and some students get a degree through the internet, and email exclusively. Are you saying that controversial issues can only be discussed in person?

    Anti-semitism is too often being used as a smoke screen by people who have no further argument, and only want to stifle free speech. Abe Foxman proved that on his visit to the school. Dispicable!

    Below is a link to an article that covers the issue of what Robinson did in a rational manner, without the diversions you offer.

    http://openanthropology.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/when-it-comes-to-israel-there-can-be-no-academic-freedom-or-dissent-the-case-of-william-i-robinson-and-uc-santa-barbara/

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    Of course one does not have to only have face-to-face discussions. I teach an online course and discussions are only online.

    I teach many Muslim students. Several are women who wear the chador or the burqa. Are you saying I have the right to send emails to all my students saying Muslim women who wear such garments are backward and are damaging the right of women to equal rights because I intensely dislike anti-feminine actions of certain Muslim governments? According to you, as a professor I can insult any student because I have strong opinions.
    I respect the dignity of my students. I always remain a proper distance from Muslim females I know are orthodox and do the same for Jewish orthodox females. I do not agree with their ideas on dress or behavior, but I am teaching a foreign policy course, not one dealing with Muslim female rights.
    The issue has nothing to do with anti-semitism. It has to do with respecting the rights and dignity of students, something you apparently don’t worry about.
    I repeat, if Professor Robinson was teaching a course on the Holocaust and students had done readings in the course, he has every right to make his ridiculous Gaza analogy. I note you do not deal with my comments about the Holocaust and why it is a distinctive example in human history. I suspect you don’t understand the concept of Holocaust anymore than what constitutes genocide.
    Please explain the “diversions” I utter.

  • Steve

    You undermined severely your argument by opening with an ad hominem attack e.g. “stupid”, “ignorant”, etc. My professors at Harvard would have marked me down for it. I suggest many professors, whether in class or by email, deliver their opinions with little or no interest in hearing those of the student. I also think you, somewhat, underestimate how much students know about the holocaust. It is referenced and described frequently in diverse media. Personal stories of survivors appear with some regularity. I read a lot of anger, and some hyperbole, in your charge of a “violation” of academic freedom.

  • Steve

    PS. I don’t consider the Israeli occupation of Gaza equivalent to the holocaust; but there are some commonalities. More importantly, while I listened to my professors, because that is what I paid for, I didn’t necessarily agree with their every assertion…just as I do not agree with some of yours. And Dave, thanks for the link to more thoughtful opinions on this issue.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    The bottom line is no historian of the Holocaust would ever make the comparison between the invasion of Gaza and the Holocaust. I note you refuse to engage in the issue–was the invasion of Gaza in any way comparable to the Holocaust? I cite specific examples of Nazi planning such as the critical Wannsee Conference in which plans were made to kill all Jews.
    I am sorry, most college students have a superficial knowledge of the intricacies of Nazi planning. Do you know anything about Nazi planning, the process of killing, the stages of the Holocaust? For example, which stage of the Holocaust is the invasion of Gaza most alike?
    I also note you do not refer to my example- can a professor email students denouncing Muslim females who wear the chador or burqa as being oppressed? I would just love to hear an example of such an email at Harvard. Go ahead, denounce Muslim beliefs. I have a hunch, Mr. Steve will be denouncing such a comment as being offensive.
    To conclude, the Robinson remarks have nothing to do with anti-semitism. They simply reflect comments by a “scholar” who apparently does not understand the Holocaust.

  • Steve

    Well, you are certainly worked up about this. You make several assumptions about me and what I may or may not know without any basis for those assumptions. I did not “refuse” to counter your assertions. Quite the contrary, I read, reread and thought about them. Some had a degree of validity while others were readily dismissed as they failed several tests of logic. However, the point here is NOT whether there are some (italics) commonalities between the ghetto in Warsaw and occupied Palastine, certainly arguable, but rather did professor Robinson violate academic freedom as you charge. Was his a brilliant, insightful and compelling analogy? Perhaps not. But does that failure (sic) constitute an abridgement of the rights of his students? As professors are wont, Robinson made an assertion. His students can now read, research, think, discuss, and write their agreement or perhaps their disagreement. As for the side issue (the possible commonalities between Gaza and Warsaw) , frankly, after all this, I look
    forward to reading a scholarly paper on the subject (however unlikely). I think you are hearing most of us say that, despite your authority on the subject of the holocaust, to which I will stipulate, and despite the possible weakness of the analogy offered by Robinson, that you hold a different opinion than the Professor does not grant you permission to libel him, question his academic integrity, or indulge in hate speech. You do have permission to write a reasoned disagreement with his thesis. And I would read it.

  • Tal

    I agree with Steve and Mike Jackson all the way. Professor Williams is simply telling the truth. The State of Isreal, or more particularly, the Zionists, are attempting to hide their horrific deeds under a rug. But, it is impossible to bury the dead bodies of so many Palestinians women and children under a blood ridden rug. The world will soon awaken to the modern day holocaust. Professors must be allowed to educate and speak Truth. The power of The State of Israel is astonishing. It is not a secret that Zionist control major media outlets and the press. Everything is Pro-Israel. Media channels are biased and have brain-washed the ignorant masses into believing Israel is a victim. True Jews oppose the blood shed in Palestine because it is immoral and unjust.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    In the modern world, the media is a global organization of millions of news media ranging from blogs to organized sites such as the Daily Kos. To claim, Jews or any group controls the media simply reflects your inability to understand the nature of modern communication.
    I opposed the Israel invasion of Gaza. It was an over-reaction to a provocation–firing of thousands of rockets. The punishment was out of all proportion to the provocation and was a military and diplomatic blunder.
    When you throw around words like the Holocaust, it is clear you have no understanding of the nature of the Holocaust which resulted in the death, not of 1,200, but of six million Jews, over a million gypsies, hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians, over two million Poles, etc.. The Holocaust against Jews was based on the concept that every person born a Jew had to die. How can you compare Israel’s actions to that process? Muslim Israel Arabs face discrimination, but they enjoy more freedom than Arabs in most Arab nations, they attend universities, get jobs, etc..
    If there is to be peace in the Middle East, there must be an end to wild accusations and claims that are unsupported by any evidence.

  • Students’ friend

    Mr. Stopsky,

    Thanks for your discussion of Robinson. Independently of you I’ve worked out pretty much the same analysis of what he did: Basically, he is an incompetent teacher. It would of course be naive to deny that both pro- and anti-Israel sentiment has taken over this particular debate, but the fact is that Robinson could have been talking about any controversial issue. If he had been this insensitive and unthinking about the knowledge state of his students, someone would have become upset and, and believing he/she had no recourse within the course, gone to someone “on the outside” to complain.

    I sympathize with you, and I know now clearly that I will get the same response if I manage to work up the nerve to go to next Tuesday’s “academic freedom” rally being held on Robinson’s behalf at UCSB, where I work.

    And in answer to the questions raised by respondents to your blog about whether things “have really changed that much”: The answer is no. But the presupposition of the question is wrong. Students have always been unwilling to speak out unless the way is opened up for them. The fact that a minority of students, in one particular brief period of time (late ’60s to early ’70s) were willing to speak up should in no way be used as cover for faculty who not only assault their students’ sensibilities in the classroom but, as in this case, actually *follow them home* to do it. The fact is that most students are cowed by their faculty members and need to be given a safe forum to speak in if we sincerely want to hear what they have to say.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    I appreciate your comments, they indicate an understanding of how most students think when confronted by teachers for whom they have doubts about retaliation for views contrary to the prof’s.

  • Mike Jackson

    “…confronted by teachers for whom they have doubts about retaliation…”

    Judging from the ad hominems that you inflicted upon Professor Robinson for simply emailing his opinion to his students, your students were certainly aware of the price they would pay for disagreeing with you. It is a shame that they had you as an example of how to treat someone who offers an opinion in opposition.

    Regarding Jewish influence in the media,
    while it is true that no one group controls the media completely, it is certainly true that Jews have an inordinate influence. Both in the media and in the legal profession. Do you disagree?

    This is an area that seems to bring out reflexive denial in the face of rather obvious evidence. And although I disagree strongly with the anti-Christian, especially anti-Catholic, bent of such influence I don’t begrudge anyone trying to be influential. It is dishonest, though, to pretend that such influence doesn’t exist and to punish those who point it out with slurs and charges of anti-Semtism.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    The idea any group in the modern world can control anything simply ignores where people these days gain information. Just about every major newspaper, including the New York Times, is heading toward bankruptcy. Please explain how any group today can “control” or “have an inordinate influence?”

    You don’t know anything about me. I supported my students in the sixties who participated in H Harlem rent strikes, I supported my students who set up freedom schools in the South. Oh, I paid the price — I lost my job. While in California, I supported my students right to fight against the death penalty- and I presented the views of communists in my class. Oh, I lost my job
    I set up the first program in America for returning Vietnam war veterans and the entrance exam was one question- do you want to go to college.
    You still don’t get the point do you?
    P.S. I have never charged anyone with being anti-semitic. My arguments with Robinson is he failed to provide his students information, he showed an amazing lack of historical knowledge by comparing the invasion of Gaza with the Holocaust. If he really believes in that analogy, he doesn’t belong in a college classroom.

  • Mike Jackson

    I don’t know anything about you?? I’m not commenting on your bowling scores or your likes and dislikes. I’m commenting on how you react with anger (On these pages, just in case you miss the connection.) and ad hominems against the Professor for stating an opinion that you disagree with. Why do I have to know how you view yourself in order to read what you say here and draw the rather unremarkable conclusion that you treat others with the same “respect and tolerance” for dissenting views? How comfortable would your students have felt in view of the slurs you spout with such ease?

    “Please explain how any group today can “control” or “have an inordinate influence?”

    Always the same game

    I already stated that no group can completely control. That’s your strawman, not mine.

    So, dear teacher, you think that blacks are just being silly when they say that whites have inordinate influence over how blacks are perceived on TV? After all, how can any group have an inordinate influence these days? All groups are punching at equal weight, right?

    A couple of years ago Time magazine named their annual 100 most influential Americans and a writer at the J.P. (to which I once subscribed) noted that 61 of those 100 were Jews. The grateful comment was made, “Thank you, America!”. Nice sentiment. But anywhere else on any other day, just dare to hint at the fact that Jews have an inordinate influence in American life and culture and people will attack you as anti-Semitic or, like you today, scratch their head and feign confusion at the silliness of such an idea.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    How about history:

    1. From 1900-1970s. every major newspaper chain was owned by WASPs– Hearst, Gannett, Scripps-Howard, etc.. No Jew owned any major newspaper chain. The only major newspapers owned by Jews were-NY Times, New York Post and Washington Post. So, how did Jews gain an “inordinate control of the media?”
    2. Prior to 1900, Jews were completely absent from control of any major American corporation in automobile, steel, coal, telephone, railroads, etc.. You don’t appear to have any understanding about Jews in America. Due to the prevalent anti-semitism–including banking– enterprising Jews migrated to new industries where there was not any anti-semitism– movies, radio, later TV. Just as the Irish when confronting prejudice went into politics, police, law, and the judiciary. For most of the 20th century Irish politicians exerted “inordinate influence in Congress, the judiciary, and the police.”
    3. During the past twenty years America has witnessed the rise of a new generation of African-American, Asian and Hispanic writers, artists, etc.. Study the history of the arts and you will notice that people who are oppressed enter the arts as a means of protest.
    4. Today, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and many other media sources are owned by an Australian, Ruppert Murdoch– are you complaining about an “inordinate Australian influence in American culture?” Actually, Murdoch exerts greater control over American culture than any single person. By the way, 80% of textbooks published in America are owned by
    German book publishers. Talk about exerting influence over American culture!!
    5. Just about every study of how Americans obtain information points to the millions of blogs and Internet sources. This suggests the old concept of ANY group being able to influence society is over.
    6. I challenge you to cite specific media ownership by Jews in newspapers, TV, the Internet. By the way, people of Pakistan background today have the highest annual income. Visit any hospital and you will note the “inordinate Asian influence.”
    7. It would be easy to write an essay about the “inordinate Irish influence in American politics” in the twentieth century. You extrapolate from a few years and come to a conclusion that is not supported by factual data. In 1948, when Israel was born, Secretary of State George Marshall threatened to resign if Truman recognized the new nation and he was supported by 90% of the State Department. Eisenhower in the 1950s came down hard on Israel. Nixon in the 1970s was not friendly to Israel. In the 1980s, George Bush I was not that friendly to Israel. Actually, Jimmy Carter, was the only real friend Israel had until the idiot Bush II came along and damaged Israel.
    P.S. Just about every major Jewish organization in America has come out in support of a two state solution.

  • Mike Jackson

    That’s dishonest. (I’m sooo shocked.) You specify: ” Please explain how any group TODAY can … “have an inordinate influence?”

    So I reference a current (as in today, get it??) list of the most influential people in America and the Jewish community’s rightful pride in pointing out that the majority of them are Jews. How do you respond? You decide to abandon “today” because you don’t want to address the evidence in front of you and instead discuss influential groups of the PAST and how Jews fared back then. I can barely keep up with your ducking and dodging.

    Have you no pride? Are you seriously going to sit there and demand that I cite media ownership by religion (like The NY Times, the most influential newspaper in America by orders of magnitude.) when Jews themselves are celebrating the fact that the the majority of the most influential people in America are Jews? Do you have any respect for a concept called intellectual honesty?

    And please, stop trying to create strawmen to knock down by your repeated morphing of my “influence” to your “control”. You even dishonestly cited me as saying “inordinate control of the media” using quotation marks to ascribe to me something I never said. Don’t you care that others can read what you and I have said and see that you are being dishonest? Have you abandoned basic honesty in citing your opponents in debate. That’s disgusting.

    Here is what I actually said”… it is certainly true that Jews have an inordinate influence.”

    And here is how Fred Stopsky cited that: [So, how did Jews gain an “inordinate control of the media?”]

    From “influence” to “control”, courtesy of Fred Stopsky’s concept of honesty.

    And you had the nerve to call Professor Robinson a “stupid…malicous sick man”? (and readers?, you can trust that cite. I’m not Fred, I’m Mike.) You’re gazing in a mirror.

    Lastly, “Just about every major Jewish organization in America has come out in support of a two state solution.” Yeah, man. And we gave gave the reservation land to the Indians after we took over America. Can you believe it, they actually still complain about that?? (Sigh)

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    In the twentieth century, the only major newspapers owned by Jews were: New York Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Washington Post and for a while the New York Post. This means 95% of Americans never read a paper owned by Jews. yes, the Times is important, but for most of the century, the Hearst newspapers were more important as was the Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal.
    Your basic thesis is:
    1. A Jew owns a newspaper.
    2. The Jew uses the newspaper to further Jewish interests.
    This is fallacious reasoning.
    1. The New York Times avoided the topic of killing of Jews in Europe during WWII even when given information.
    Let me illustrate the false reasoning you use:

    Hollywood producers were disproportionately Jewish.
    But, there was an unofficial “Hollywood Code” which forbid portraying Jews in films. It was not until 1946, when “Crossfire” appeared there was even mention of discrimination against Jews. Finally, the film, “Gentlemen’s Agreement” in 1947 openly discussed discrimination. To prove my point, the great film “Emile Zola” which appeared in the 1930s about the “Dreyfus Affair” among the most famous trials in Europe, never mentioned he was Jewish.
    Of course, Jews are disproportionate in the legal profession, medicine, and movies and TV. Jewish culture has always emphasized the law and medicine.
    Yes, there has been a Jewish influence in literature. But, there has been an equal “inordinate influence” in literature and the theater of the Irish influence. The Irish plunged into law, politics, literature, movies, theater, etc.. because of prejudice.
    In the first half of the 20th century there was an “inordinate Southern influence” in literature sparked by Faulkner, Wolfe, McCullers, etc.. The history of American culture is characterized by waves of influence. Why do you only cite Jewish influence?
    I find it surprising you ignore the other “inordinate Jewish influences”
    During the first half of the twentieth century Jews dominated basketball and boxing way of proportion to their numbers in the population . Why don’t you cite that influence? Or, if you were around in the twenties and thirties you would have met people like you who talked about the “Jewish influence” in crime. Yes, Jewish gangsters were out of all proportion to the number of Jews in the population. So what? Poor people gravitate to entertainment, sports, crime and politics. It is the story of America and Jews have played their role.
    My question is why do you ONLY cite Jews and ignore the other groups which exerted an “inordinate influence” and why do you ignore the Jewish role in sports and crime? I suspect sports and crime do not fit your stereotype of Jews.
    P.S. Only one basketball team in the history of college basketball ever won the NCAA and NIT championship the same year–CCNY whose teams had three Jews and two blacks.

  • Mike Jackson

    Laugh out loud. You started out hurling vicious slurs against Professor Robinson, ended up falsely quoting me and now you want to have a discussion.

    You disgust me.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    Your approach to logic is:

    Joe Biden is Catholic
    Joe Biden is VP
    Therefore, Joe Biden will further “Catholic interests.”

    How come if someone is Protestant, you never refer to them as furthering “Protestant interests?”

    You assume because someone is Jewish, that person now represents something termed “Jewish interests.”

    If you studied American history, you would know that prior to the Depression, a high percent of Jews voted for Republicans and Eisenhower was still getting about 35% of the Jewish vote. There is no such thing as “Jewish” interests or views or anything. There are Jews and they are people with their own individual views.
    I suspect you don’t know much about the history of Jews in America, the history of ethnic groups in America, the history of American politics and ethnic groups, etc..

  • Mike Jackson

    American Christians and Catholics can pick up a TV/Cable guide each and every week and see dozens of shows viciously mocking their faith. And I’m just talking about “documentaries”, Discovery and History Channel type shows. I’m leaving out all the snarky and judgemental references you can hear in cop/law/talk shows and sitcoms. And Hollywood produces a dozen or so movies each year doing the same. It has become more and more acceptable in American culture to mock those faiths.

    But never Jews, as Jews, or Judaism itself. Why is that, Mr. Stopsky? Since, as you say, Jews do not use their great influence to promote their interests why is it that the disrespect shown towards Christianity and Catholicism does not coincide with a similar comfort level among our cultural leaders for shows and movies mocking Jews and Judaism?

    Just paranoia, huh? Just silly to think that self interest or bigotry has anything to do with that, right?

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    If you study the history of Hollywood films, you will note a tremendous number of films favorably depicting priests and the Catholic Church. How many films favorably depict rabbis or Judaism>
    Between 1900- 1950 there were two films that dealt with anti-semitism. In contrast there were probably over a hundred that dealt favorably with Christianity, priests, and Protestant clergymen. Why?

  • Mike Jackson

    Back to history lessons again, eh? Not that I expected an honest acknowledgement of, or an appreciation of the pain that such mocking causes us. It’s like other unfairnesses in society. Those who enjoy seeing such suffering or care not at all will rarely acknowledge the fact of it. It’s a telling sign and a lesson to Christians and Catholics who have been raised (like me) to consider the Jewish community as our friends and Israel as our duty to protect.

    It’s turned me around and I now work at educating my community that our natural feelings of brotherhood have been wasted on people who hate us and laugh at our pain. Just as German Lutherans once laughed at the humiliation of Jews, Jews now laugh at the humiliation of Christians and Catholics and embrace a role that they once despised.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    I assume you have read the report issued by the Ryan Commission in Ireland which reported abuse of thousands of children by the clergy. I assume you will most probably blame the Commission report on the “Israel Lobby”

    For the record:

    I am married to a sweet Irish Catholic lass. My first wife was Irish Catholic and we were married in a Catholic church. My children did attend Catholic school for a few years.
    I worked in a Catholic girls college, was the dean and was responsible for its survival due to my efforts. I have worked with nuns and priests all my life. I wrote a biography of Father Kolbe who was martyred in World War II. I also wrote a book about my hero, Father Bartolome de las Casas.
    My masters thesis is on Irish history.
    Yeah, I hate Catholics!

    Get your head out of the toilet of ignorance.

  • Mike Jackson

    I already checked out your bio. So what. Do you think that marrying a Catholic gives you the right to treat legitimate Catholic and Christian concerns with a dismissive sneer. Do you think you earn cover for such bigotry?

    “Israel Lobby”

    Always the same lame strawman. Criticize the Jewish Community and you are accused of blaming EVERYTHING on Jews.

    “Get your head out of the toilet of ignorance.”

    Typical Stopsky. Always taking the high road. Heh.

    Thanks for the revealing conversation. Best of bad luck to you in your campaign to silence Professor Robinson in the name of academic freedom. Goebels would be proud of your diatribes against the Jewish Professor. (I know you appreciate historical context.)

    Best wishes to your family, despite your dismissiveness towards mine.

  • http://openanthropology.wordpress.com Maximilian Forte

    I read what is effectively your mission statement, and it is much more enlightened and progressive than what you produce in this particular post. Perhaps Robinson has hit a raw nerve and your are not showing your best face. You have made a number of assumptions, which I believe that practice renders erroneous and untenable:

    “1. He sent an email to all students which meant his views impacted the entire class and it was impossible for a student to respond to the entire class.”

    No, that is not at all correct. There is nothing here to suggest that they cannot raise the issue in class, to the entire class, and much more directly than Robinson did. Having once sent an email to a class of mine, complaining about what was becoming common misconduct in the class, I was very directly and even personally upbraided by the class, in class. I sensed no fear on their part.

    “2. This was not a class dealing with the Holocaust so Professor Robinson did not have any awareness of the knowledge base of his students regarding the Holocaust or even what they knew about what is meant by genocide. We can assume a high percent of his students did not have this knowledge and thus were unable to refute the professor’s ignorant statements.”

    But then this is why this is University: you learn. Ask questions. Be curious. What was stopping any of the students from asking and answering their own questions by doing some independent research of their own? I think you are endorsing the spoon-feeding model of pedagogy, where a professor must not only provoke the hunger, he must feed the babies the right diet too.

    “3. A professor has the power of giving a “grade” which means there is no level playing field when he introduced a controversial issue. Students responding to him risked having grades lowered if they challenged their professor on a topic that was NOT part of the curriculum.”

    Well, you do not actually know that, you assume it. Students are not as powerless and meek as the ones you apparently knew. Students have formally codified rights in most universities, and can appeal their grades, some times over and over again. Students can also litigate.

    Lo and behold! That’s what these two students did. Their very actions prove that they are not so powerless. Rather than raise their criticisms in class, like reasonable and honest interlocutors engaged in debate and dialogue that is the very stuff of life in a sane university, they instead chose to go public, immediately, with the aim of doing damage to the professor, and with the support of external institutions.

    Does that look like academic freedom to you?

    “4. A professor with a sense of intellectual honesty should have provided students readings, videos or access to opposing views if he wanted to introduce this comparison. The majority of his students lacked knowledge and his responsibility was to ensure they would be in an intellectual position to respond in an informed manner.”

    Again, this is the spoon-feeding approach. I am not necessarily endorsing Robinson’s precise methods in this case, I am simply acknowledging that his communication is protected by the Constitution and by the standards of academic freedom of his own institution.

    You also seem to be dwelling on what is a much larger misunderstanding — that comparisons between Israeli actions and the Holocaust are what nasty critics do. If you actually read the site set up to defend Robinson, specifically this page at

    http://sb4af.wordpress.com/robinson-case/the-original-email-at-issue/

    you will see that it Israeli governments spokespersons and military planners are the ones who themselves argue that they should draw useful and applicable lessons from the Warsaw Ghetto, and, who threaten Gaza with a “shoah.” Tell me now, who is inviting the comparisons? Which reasonable person would miss the obvious associations here?

    Is it anti-Semitic and insulting? If the former, then that is an interesting verdict on the government of Israel itself. If the latter, I agree: anyone who wants to emulate Nazi lessons is an insult incarnate.

    The moral of this story should have been: don’t shoot the messenger. I am afraid that you do, and that is a poor lesson to teach to students.

  • http://openanthropology.wordpress.com Maximilian Forte

    forgive the typographic errors please

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    1. You raise valid points. There is always a thin line in teaching between respecting students and their dignity and dealing with controversial issues. It is not as cut and dried as you explain.
    I have spent my life supporting student rights to explore controversial issues, but in life, there are also complex issues.
    2. Of course, any professor who is concerned about the quest for knowledge ventures outside of course parameters. But, Professor Robinson did NOT present an intellectual rationale for his comparison with the Holocaust. It was flippant and passionate and emotional, not scholarly.
    3. I have worked with 15,000 students in my life teaching at five universities. Perhaps, your experience is dramatically different from mine, but the majority of students hesitate to contradict a professor. I recently was visited by a group of students who were upset at a teacher who said they were guilty of “racism” because they were white. They feared challenging her. I believe that attitude is not unusual.
    4. I have spent the past few years teaching many Muslim students and most of the females wear the chador or veils. I believe treatment of Muslim women is oppressive and discriminatory. Are you saying I have a right to send an email to my students and tell them of my feelings concerning treatment of Muslim women? And, then invite the women to “discuss” their ideas in class? I trust you are joshing.
    I attend Muslim student meetings to learn, try my best to get inside the minds of female students to grasp their mind set, and show respect. As a professor, I do NOT have to utter my profound words about everything. Oh, I have had several discussions with small groups of Muslim students, explain my ideas and obtain their reaction.
    5. Talk about getting things out of context. “Israeli governments spokespersons and military planners are the ones who themselves argue that they should draw applicable lessons from the Warsaw Ghetto and who threaten Gaza with a Shoah.” Are you saying the Olmert government was threatening Gaza with a “Shoah?” Are you saying those in command of the IDF which invaded Gaza were drawing lessons from the “Warsaw Ghetto?” If so, please present evidence to support your claims. I followed the invasion closely and do not recall any public statements by the IDF or the Olmert government which supports your allegations.
    6. I began my career teaching in a small town high school in California which had a large Mormon population. At that time, Mormons believed Negroes had dark skin because God punished them for being evil. We discussed Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. I did not think it appropriate to comment about Mormon ideas. I met with Mormon parents, we had discussions. Fifty years later, one of my former students, Cheryl Handy, said her parents enjoyed those discussions. They joined the group in the Mormon religion which led to changes. about Negro skin color.
    I was threatened by the John Birch Society which wanted me fired because I presented ideas about communism from a Communist perspective. I staged debates with another teacher and we debated capitalism and communism. I guess you would consider that “spoon feeding” students.
    To conclude:

    I have been fired twice for my controversial ideas about supporting student rights. As a teacher, I respect students and try my best to offer them multiple perspectives. I just concluded an online class in which students did a fantastic simulation on the Israel-Palestinian conflict by role playing eight different perspectives. Each one in their self reflection said they came away with new understandings concerning views they thought they had understood.
    After they finished, I offered my view with the proviso I would not criticize anything they said.
    After fifty-two years in teaching, I suspect I have more humility and less willingness to open my mouth about every issue. I prefer having students do the work and reach their own conclusions. Why didn’t Robinson take that perspective?

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    Let me conclude this discussion with an example which illustrates the approach of Professor Robinson and yourself as contrasted with my view of teaching.
    I was teaching high school in Long Island when one day a student entered the class. He was upset because he offered the library a free copy of “None Dare Call It Treason,” a John Birch interpretation of life. The librarian said it was junk and would not accept it. I told the student to present his ideas to the class, I would sit in the back of the room and not speak.
    Students discussed the issue of censorship for two days. Finally, the overwhelming majority concluded as one put it, “even junk belongs in the library.” They asked for my view. I said it was their town, not mine, and I refuse to give my view.
    A student group visited the librarian to urge her to take the book. She refused to accept the book. The students returned to class and asked me what they should do. I refused. I said it was their town, and their library, not mine. They spent another period discussing the situation. Finally, they decided to run someone for the Library Board. They found a retired Army colonel, they ran his campaign and he won. The book entered the library.
    I never uttered a word, never gave my opinion. Students found their own solution. Sir, isn’t that the purpose of going to school? To find the means of reaching one’s own understandings in life?
    I believe Professor Robinson and you fear allowing students to reach their own conclusions. You believe that is not possible without the wonderful words of wisdom that come from your mouth.

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  • http://ignoblus.blogspot.com Matt

    Are you saying the Olmert government was threatening Gaza with a “Shoah?”

    An Israeli government official did say something along the lines of “If the Palestinians in Gaza continue in this way, they will bring upon themselves a disaster.” The Hebrew word for disaster is shoah. In Israel, when one speaks of the Holocaust, it is capitalized and preceded with the Hebrew word for the, Ha Shoah. (Much as shem simply means “name” but H-sh-m –I omit vowels out of respect here– is a name of G-d.) Stupid translation problem, uncareful and biased. But even so, the use of a single quote to explain the rationale for the invasion, especially when rationales like stopping the rocket attacks were obvious and commonly expressed, is just as absurd. Typical of Israel’s louder critics.

  • Chad Johnson

    Mr. Stopsky,
    In your responses, most of your responses were defensive and based on number, when speaking about how arabs muslims making 15% of the pop. of israel and they attend universities AND they have been blended into the community is a complete joke, I think your intelligence can allow the internet to surf and view the REAL TRUTH if you want to really know it, unless you like to be blind sided and pick a phrase from the whole story and make it headlines.If thats the case youll make a great jounalist a some local bias newspaper.

  • Chad Johnson

    Mr. Stopsky
    (please ignore my previous as i had to rework it As english is my third language)
    Most of your responses were defensive and based on nonfacts.
    As an example, when speaking about how arabs muslims making 15% of the pop. of israel and they attend universities AND they have been blended into the community is a complete joke, I think your intelligence have allowed or will allow you to surf and google the internet and view the REAL TRUTH if thats what you really want.Unless you like to be blind sided and pick a phrase from the whole story and make it headlines,If thats the case, you’ll make a great jounalist(or maybe you are) for one of the bias newspaper.