Monday, September 03, 2007

The Hit Piece on Finkelstein

DePaul didn't like the negative publicity it received from suspending Norman Finkelstein, so now it's striking back with a hit piece by Ron Grossman in the Chicago Tribune today, using leaked memos to smear Finkelstein. Unfortunately for DePaul, the accusations against Finkelstein are almost comical.

DePaul accuses Finkelstein of "threatening and discourteous behavior." What's really disturbing is that DePaul seems incapable of distinguishing between the two. According to Grossman, "On three such occasions, campus security officers were called to intervene, according to the provost's memo. When a dean attempted to escape a confrontation by ducking into an elevator, Finkelstein physically tried to keep the door from closing, according to the provost's account." However, if DePaul is willing to fire faculty for rudeness, why wouldn't they also bring in the police to deal with a similar "crime." The only specific example of Finkelstein's "physically" "threatening" behavior is this: he held open the elevator doors while talking to a dean. Ohmigod! Norman Finkelstein physically assaulted an elevator door! How much longer can this violent, violent man be tolerated?

Shockingly, the Tribune doesn't provide any other details of these absurd accusations, nor does he allow Finkelstein to refute the charges. The Tribune also contends that the Political Science Department has turned against Finkelstein and asked him to be put on leave. But there's no details here. Was it the department chair? A majority vote? The unanimous request of the entire department? These are important details omitted here. The Tribune merely concludes, "Finkelstein's support among colleagues, once considerable, had been waning." But there's no evidence of this at all. Nor does the Tribune mention,

On Wednesday, September 5, Finkelstein will be teaching his class and protesting against DePaul's administration.

UPDATE: Peter Kirstein reports on the rumors of another encounter that apparently led to Finkelstein's suspension. However, it should be noted that we don't know the details, and DePaul still violated its procedures for suspending faculty (which cannot be decided by the whim of a department).

1 comment:

Peter N Kirstein said...

I agree with your interpretation. Of course, since I am an avowed pacifist, if he did threaten an individual or cause them to be physically afraid, I would be gravely concerned, but clearly there was no physical contact. Yet Mr Grossman, a rather conservative writer, failed to address directly some of the questions you raised. I concur the claim of diminishing faculty support is unsubstaniated and yes DePaul is clearly leaking internal documentation.