Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Repression of Criticism of Israel in Michigan

The University of Michigan has adopted new standards for its university press, designed to end its distribution agreements with Pluto Press and other controversial publishers.

I have not read Joel Kovel's book, and I do not care what it says. This was a cowardly act of repression by the University of Michigan. Acting as a book distributor is much like a university renting out its space to outside groups for lectures, as opposed to hosting its own lectures (which is the analogue of publishing its own books). No one should demand that outside groups meet the same academic standards as the university. It's a business relationship that benefits the university press while at the same time it benefits the public by allowing greater access to ideas. No one intelligent imagines that the University of Michigan Press is publishing these books. What's next? Will controversial books be purged from the university bookstore, or the university library?

There can be no doubt: the only reason for this new policy is to ban Pluto Press and any other controversial books from being associated with the University of Michigan. That's not a proud decision for any university.

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