More Details on Finkelstein

In an earlier post I lamented DePaul’s inexplicable reliance on “civility” as apparently the defining characteristic of a professor’s career.  DePaul seems set to deny controversial professor Norman Finkelstein’s tenure bid because he is rude (very rude) to his critics.  In that post I noted that I had “no opinion” about the merits of Finkelstein’s tenure bid because I knew nothing about his scholarship.
Well, one of the reasons I knew nothing about his scholarship is that there is apparently not much to know.  In a devastating profile in FrontPage, Steven Plaut outlines a career that looks to be built almost entirely on ties to the most world’s extreme anti-Semites and terror apologists.  When you survey what Finkelstein has actually done (or not done) with his many years in the academy, it makes DePaul’s actions all the more troubling.  Is it really the case that the only reason DePaul may deny tenure to a man without a single serious scholarly publication is that he is too mean?
This leads one to wonder . . . what is the academic record of the political science faculty that voted 9-3 for Finkelstein?  Do they feature similar CVs of ideological screeds masquerading as scholarship?  Many of the most controversial radical academics seem to have attained high-profile positions (including — in Ward Churchill’s case — becoming chair of the ethnic studies department at a flagship state university) with the thinnest of academic resumes.  Their chief qualification is holding the right positions on the right issues and “speaking truth to power” (as the radical left defines the phrase). 
Now I seriously doubt that DePaul’s’ political science department actually agrees with the substance of Finkelstein’s more extreme positions, but he certainly makes the right people angry.  And — in some quarters — that may very well be the single best thing any academic can do to help his or her career.  If FrontPage attacks, the academy must defend.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

Culture

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More
Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More