Last week, I wrote about the kerfuffle involving false accusations of racism against Connecticut College professor Andrew Pessin.
That controversy seems to have arisen out of an effort to shame and silence a rare active pro-Israel voice at the college. A pro-Palestinian student activist, a founder of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, dredged up an old Facebook post of Pessins eight months after it was written in which he analogized the situation in Gaza to a wild pit bull, refused to accept his totally reasonable explanation that the derogatory metaphor in the post was aimed at Hamas and not Palestinians in general, and refused to accept his apology for any misunderstanding. Instead, she chose to make an international incident out of Pessins post, accusing him of racism.
[UPDATE: The most serious charge againstProfessor Pessin, that in the comments to his post hedirectly condoned the extermination of a people, turns out not to be simply afoolishor aggressive reading of an ambiguous post, but utterly and obviously false. Two students wrote to the school news paper that Pessin
compared Gazan Palestinians to rabid pit bulls who need to be caged. He described the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a cycle of letting the snarling dogs out of their cage and then beating them back into it.One person named Nicole commented on the post suggesting the dogs be put down. Professor Pessin responded, I agree.Professor Pessin directly condoned the extermination of a people. A member of our community has called for the systematic abuse, killing, and hate of another people.
Pessin had deleted his post and comments when the activist student, Lamiya Khandaker, first contacted him about it, because he thought he had inadvertently but genuinely offended her. Pessin had taken a screen shot of the post, but not the comments. The comments have now surfaced, and it turns out that Nicole, who clearly understood the original metaphor to refer to Hamas, wrote, terrorists should be put down, just like the dog, to which Pessin responded I agree. Lest their be any remaining ambiguity, Nicole clarified, just two comments down, I said terrorists. I meant Hamas and not all Palestinians.
At this point, I think its fair to call the allegations against Pessin a hoax.]
Despite this rather strong circumstantial evidence that the whole controversy was ginned up to score anti-Israel political points, faculty and students at the college, in correspondence with me and in comments on this blog and elsewhere, have insisted that the controversy had nothing to do with Israel/Palestine, but rather was entirely about Pessins allegedly dehumanizing rhetoric and an effort to create a safe and welcoming campus climate.
I suppose that despite the wealth of circumstantial evidence suggesting that the controversy was invented for political reasons, its possible that some of those making that claim actually believe it wasnt, that they are if not savvy, at least sincere.
However, one group of individuals who apparently dont even pretend to believe the its not about Israel/Palestine claim are the Interim Deans of Equity and Inclusion,Sunil Bhatia, David Canton, Sandy Grande.
A source sent me a preliminary program of events they (more specifically, Dean Grande seems to be primarily responsible, but the memo announcing the event was sent under all their names) have planned over the next three weeks in response to recent events on campus.
Read more from the original source:
Volokh Conspiracy: Equity and Inclusion at Connecticut College (see important update)