Saturday, November 17, 2007

Intolerance at Central Connecticut State University

Central Connecticut State University has for years been a hotbed of anti-Israel hatred. This has, for the most part, been ignored by the university's administration. Not surprisingly, the tolerance for hatred of one group led to expressions of hatred for others, at which point there was controversy which briefly spilled into the press.

In the fall of 2007, CCSU began a search for a Chief Diversity Officer, a position sorely needed, and controversy flared again when one faculty member blasted one candidate because she worked for a civil rights group he hated.

I wrote the following letter to the president of CCSU, who replied with a letter which failed to address the large issue of the atmosphere of hate on the Central Connecticut State University campus.

October 28, 2007

President Jack Miller
Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley Street
Lawrence J. Davidson 112
New Britain, CT 06050

Dear President Miller:

The Congressional Record contains the following version of a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller.

"When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church-there was nobody left to be concerned."

I first became aware of the culture of hatred promulgated by some at Central Connecticut State University when the organizers of the infamous "Teachers' Institute on Middle Eastern Studies" in 2002 used Federal funding in the aftermath of 9/11 to violate the core principles of academic freedom in an unbalanced program propagating hatred against Israel.

There was considerable protest from some faculty along with responsible individuals and organizations outside CCSU, but the atmosphere at CCSU itself wasn't affected.

(This perverted program was one of the abuses which led to the establishment of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum which reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America. Campus Watch addresses some of the problems of that Teachers' Institute, including the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views and the abuse of power over students.)

Given that history, it was not surprising when the CCSU student newspaper, The Recorder, last winter published an article suggesting rape could be a "magical experience" for a woman.

Nor was it surprising when a CCSU listserv was used this past summer to propagate a hateful message some feel crossed the line into anti-Semitism.

It was again not surprising when the same student newspaper this fall featured a racist and misogynistic cartoon.

The culture of hatred at CCSU again reared its ugly face recently when Sadu Nanjundiah went beyond any acceptable bound to attack a candidate for Executive Assistant to the President/Chief Diversity Officer because she currently works for a civil rights organization that does not share his pathological hatred of the one Jewish state in the world.

The facts, undoubtedly known to Nanjundiah, that the "A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE (R)" program with which that candidate is involved has absolutely nothing to do with the Jewish state only further illustrates the way Nanjundiah and others have no qualms about using McCarthyite tactics in trying to recruit others into their hate campaigns.

It may be necessary to allow abuses of Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom in order to safeguard those rights, but it especially important in an academic environment to exert moral leadership when those freedoms are abused to spread hatred, as they have at CCSU by Nanjundiah and others.

Your recent message "Response to Posting on Diversity & Equity Candidate" is one small step in the right direction, but it needs to be followed by continuing, tangible efforts to promote tolerance and make CCSU into a hate-free campus. Programs such as "A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE (R)" are also steps in the right direction, although it is highly unlikely that those such as Nanjundiah who are most in need can be induced to participate and benefit from them.

I strongly urge you to make a sustained effort to eliminate the culture of intolerance and hatred at CCSU before there is "nobody left to be concerned."


Alan H. Stein
President, PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting)
Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Connecticut

The following is the reply from Jack Miller, President of CCSU.

November 6, 2007

Professor Alan Stein
P.O. Box 7194
Bloomfield, CT 06002

Dear Professor Stein:

Thank you for your letter of October 28th. I appreciate the sentiments that you expressed. Certainly the vast majority of us at Central Connecticut State University are concerned about having an environment that is positive and welcoming to all and yet open to a wide-range of freedom of expression. We continually struggle with that balance. As I am sure you realize, sometimes we are constrained legally from saying certain things. On other occasions there are issues that are unpopular but deserve protection as they are legitimate, although perhaps inaccurate, observations.

When people step over the line and make inappropriate judgments about other individuals, as was the case in a comment about a candidate in an ongoing search, we will always clearly express the inappropriateness of such a position. In other instances, there may be things said that people don't like or which they do not agree with, but which deserve their opportunity in the marketplace of ideas. As has been said on numerous occasions relating to Supreme Court decisions concerning protected speech, inappropriate and erroneous statements are best dealt with by the disinfectant of public airing.

Again, thank you for your thoughts and please feel free to contact me in the future.


Jack Miller

No comments: