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28 August 2007

Finkelstein Update: No Office Space, Classes Cancelled, Hunger Strike Planned

DePaul hits a new low: they have just canceled all of Finkelstein's classes for his terminal year. Plus, he has been denied all office space. Details here and here. And check this out:

How DePaul practices Vincentian values

Prof. Finkelstein - Professor Budde has informed me that you have asked for office space for your books. We do not have office space assigned to you for the coming academic year. I will look into whether we can make space available for you and either I or Professor Budde will get in touch with you next week with more information.

In the meantime, you will not have access to your old office space. To the extent that you left personal belongings in your old office space, we can discuss a plan for their return to you when I get in touch with you next week. You should not plan on moving into any office space tomorrow, as that option is not available to you.

I will contact you next week with more information.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Suchar
Professor and Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
DePaul University
Vincent dePaul Professor
Office of the Dean
990 W. Fullerton Ave. Office#4207
Chicago, IL. 60614-3298
Phones: (773) 325-7305
(773) 325-1858
fax: (773) 325-7304
e-mail: csuchar@depaul.edu

You might want to contact Dean Suchar and tell him what you think.

Finkelstein has announced the following:
"I intend to go to my office on the first day of classes and, if my way is barred, to engage in civil disobedience," Finkelstein, 53, said in a telephone interview. "If arrested, I'll go on a hunger strike. If released, I'll do it all over again. I'll fast in jail for as long as it takes."
There is a conference on October 12th at the University of Chicago on this case, and on academic freedom in general. You can make donations here. I hope there will be a live internet hookup, or at least a video posted after the fact.

For all of you who despise Finkelstein and/or his writings -- and I don't, obviously -- let me remind you, who are no doubt a self-described civil libertarian (like Alan Dershowitz), of the following:

"I disapprove of what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." -- Voltaire

Most people, despite what they profess, are not up to Voltaire's standard.

1 comment:

  1. My email to Dean Suchar:

    Dear Dean Suchar:

    I have been following this case with increasing levels of revulsion for DePaul, but you have helped me hit a new plateau in nausea. What, pray tell, is the purpose of canceling Prof. Finkelstein's classes and kicking him out of his office? It strikes me as pure sadism: you would like to humiliate this person with whom you disagree (clearly), and whose career you've wrecked, bending to outside propaganda and pressure. Against the advice of all relevant faculty committees, I might add.

    Aside from the travesty of Vincentian, or any other, values, you are well on your way to destroying your own administrative career, as well as the respect with which the leadership of your institution is held.

    Your mission statement mentions that "[a]cademic freedom is guaranteed both as an integral part of the university’s scholarly and religious heritage, and as an essential condition of effective inquiry and instruction." I'd say you've failed spectacularly there, both with Finkelstein and Larudee. Further on, the statement mentions that "the DePaul community is above all characterized by ennobling the God-given dignity of each person." I suppose the sadistic and pointless act of further punishing someone you've already greatly wronged is supposed to be ennobling. I read that supposedly your institution "in all academic disciplines [...] endorses critical moral thinking and scholarship founded on moral principles which embody religious values and the highest ideals of our society." Well, you may not agree with Finkelstein, but his ethical earnestness is not in doubt. Finally, the mission statement goes on to say that "[t]his religious personalism [i.e., Vincentian values] is manifested by the members of the DePaul community in a sensitivity to and care for the needs of each other and of those served, with a special concern for the deprived members of society." Your sensitivity to Finkelstein is obvious -- obviously non-existent. A final irony is that, assuming your "special concern for the deprived members of society" extends to those of other societies, it is ironic that Finkelstein's main scholarly efforts have been on behalf of the Palestinians, surely deprived, and of victims of the Nazi holocaust who have been doubly ripped off; surely, that, too, is a deprivation which deserves "special concern." Finkelstein has made both issues his "special concern," and for ethical reasons.

    Vincentian mission accomplished? I think not.

    What, exactly, are you so afraid of? That Finkelstein may prove, under the media's gaze, that he is in fact an excellent teacher, one worthy of tenure? Or, heaven forbid, he might criticize you? I might add that if you think this act will quiet down the unruly student rabble, you're in for a big shock.

    Your conduct has been disgraceful throughout this event. One must harken back to the days of McCarthy -- or of Lysenko -- to find an analogue.

    Compare your reactions to that of Voltaire, when confronted with a thinker with whom he, too, disagreed:

    "I disapprove of what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." -- Voltaire

    Substitute "teach" for "write," and that's the situation with Finkelstein. Either way, it's a matter of free expression in the one institution, the university, in which free expression is to be protected. You may be a master of Vincentian values (doubtful, on the evidence), but you clearly haven't come anywhere near achieving that anti-cleric and deist's level of intellectual honesty. You're about at Alan Dershowitz's level of intellectual honesty, which is not a good place to be.

    Jewish though I am, I believe Dante placed hypocrites, falsifiers, and instigators of scandal and schism in the eighth circle of hell, and traitors to one's cause (academic freedom ought to be your over-riding cause, even more than donations) in the ninth circle of hell. Which means you should be feeling a bit chilly right now.

    At best, you folded in response to outside pressure. How Christ-like; we know what a coward he was. No doubt you have justified all your actions to yourself, but others see through it with minimal effort.

    I believe your faith tradition holds that it's never too late to repent and make amends. Consider doing so.

    Doug Tarnopol