To recap: Douglas Giles was an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Established in 1945 as Thomas Jefferson College and then renamed Roosevelt College after Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the college was:
...determined to make higher education available to all students who could qualify academically. Considerations of social or economic class, racial or ethnic origin, sex, or age were, and remain, irrelevant in determining who is admitted. (emphasis added)In the spring of 2005, Dr. Giles was teaching a class in World Religions and he allowed a student discussion of Zionism. Mind you, he did not take a part but attempted to make the discussion fair and equitable:
Giles says that in response to the Zionism question, "I explained the religious dimensions of the belief of many Jews that God has promised the land of Israel to them and will eventually lead them back to the land. I explained that both Jews and Muslims consider Jerusalem a holy city and thus religious belief is a huge factor in the current conflict over Israel. I also explained that the charge that Zionism is racism was anti-Israeli political speech and that there is nothing in Zionism itself that is racist. The class responded very positively and there was discussion about the beliefs about the land of both Jews and Muslims."(Email from Douglas Giles, May 9, 2006)Seems pretty much what one would want an academic institution to do, foster discussion of an important topic. But, sorry, not in the religio-correct world of George Bush.
Giles included a question on his final exam about the topic. A student didn't like his grade and complained to the chairman of Giles' department. The situation was reviewed and:
Weininger (the Chair) told Giles not to allow any discussions in his class critical of Judaism that might be "disrespectful to any Jews in the class." According to Giles, Weininger said: "I hear you even allowed a Muslim to speak in class."In my world, that question by a Department Chairman should have been referred to the Dean who should, if she persisted in her attitude, have fired her on the spot. But this is not my world. The plot thickens:
Giles says he responded, "Yes, of course, I allowed all students to speak, regardless of their religion!" And Weininger reportedly replied: "You shouldn't! What disturbs me is that you act like the Palestinians have a side in this. They don't have a side! They are ANIMALS! They strap bombs to their bodies and blow up women and children! They are NOT CIVILIZED!"(Email Douglas Giles, May 15, 2006, his transcript of September 20, 2005 conversation.)May I remind you that over a thousand innocent civilians have recently been massacred in Lebanon by the Israelis, 40% of them children. Just who is civilized?
It seems that the "all people are equal" clause of our Constitution is now inoperative in Bush World. One has to append the clause "some people (Israel) are more equal than others." In any case, the academic politics worsened (and believe me, academic politics can be brutal, I know from personal experience). Eventually Giles was "permanently not rehired."
Professor Giles was ultimately fired because he allowed a discussion of Israel and the Palestinian people in his class. In this case, and the root cause of the trouble, is that religion and politics intersect in this discussion. He was fired because he pursued a course that would allow students to criticize Israel, as they have every right to do. He was fired by someone who called a group of people "uncivilized" and "animals."
Professor Giles will survive. What is in danger of expiring is the very basis of our Constitution, "that all people are created equal."
And why? Because a very small group of people (2-3 million) in the United States are very wealthy. Because they are wealthy they exert inordinate control over our political system (which says something about the current practice of buying votes with campaign contributions). This control translates into demanding from everyone in America unwavering support for a foreign country, Israel. Part of this program is to deny the citizens of America their right to debate this support. Let me remind you that most of us (ironically, less proportionately those wealthy people) pay taxes and this revenue buys weapons for Israel including F-16's and the bombs they carry over Lebanon.
This is an issue that cannot be dismissed. It is either resolved in favor of our Constitution, or we might as well go back to swearing allegiance to George III.
(There is further irony. The religious right, those Ralph Reed clones out there, support Israel to the hilt. What, you might say? Isn't this contradictory? Of course not. They support Israel because they see the conflict in the MidEast as bringing on the Apocalypse. Never mind that Israel and its inhabitants will be destroyed in that event. As long as they get their goodies. And George Bush probably buys into this. The crazies are with us forever.)