Wednesday, March 2, 2016
The president of ultra-liberal Oberlin College is standing by the professor who has been posting a slew of anti-Semitic rants and bizarre 9/11 conspiracy theories on social media.
The prestigious Ohio college — alma mater of Lena Dunham — released a letter from president Marvin Krislov defending associate professor Joy Karega’s freedom of speech, The Chronicle-Telegram reported Tuesday.
“I believe, as the American Association of University Professors says, that academic freedom is ‘the indispensable quality of institutions of higher education’ because it encourages free inquiry, promotes the expansion of knowledge, and creates an environment in which learning and research can flourish,” Krislov writes.
“Cultivating academic freedom can be difficult and at times painful for any college community. The principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech are not just principles to which we turn to face these challenges, but also the very practices that ensure we can develop meaningful responses to prejudice,” he added.
The college — which charges $49,928 for tuition — last week released a brief statement saying that Karega’s views do not represent those of the college, located outside of Cleveland.
Krislov said he’s since received many messages about Karega, an associate professor who teaches rhetoric and composition, that “range from demands for [her] immediate dismissal to demands that her right to free expression be defended at all costs.”
“I am a practicing Jew, grandson of an Orthodox rabbi. Members of our family were murdered in the Holocaust,” he wrote in the letter. “As someone who has studied history, I cannot comprehend how any person could or would question its existence, its horrors and the evil which caused it.”
Karega, who has worked at Oberlin only since last year, wrote on numerous Facebook posts that she believes Israel was the mastermind behind numerous terrorist attacks around the world including 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo slaughter in Paris.
Last January, she posted a graphic of an ISIS militant pulling off a mask of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face with the text, “France wants to Free Palestine? Time for a false flag…”
“This ain’t even hard. They unleashed Mossad on France and it’s clear why,” Karega wrote in a now-private post, referencing Israel’s intelligence agency.
In another post, she claimed that ISIS was created by the CIA and Mossad so that “Israeli and Zionist Jews” could carry out the 9/11 terror attacks.
Karega has locked down most of her social media, but she shared a public post last week promoting an event scheduled for Wednesday night that features Robin Kelley, a history professor from the University of California at Los Angeles.
“Trust, when I come up out of my Unbothered state of being, I’ll have a lot to say (analysis, no doubt) about the kinds of intimidation and silencing tactics that are rhetorically enacted in digital spaces […] and how common it is for Black women, who are early in their career on the tenure track as part of the professoriate, to be prime targets for these kinds of activities and practices,” she wrote last Friday.
Last year, Karega was included in a rundown of professors who deserved tenure as part of a laundry list of demands by the Black Student Union following a period of racial tension on campus.
Oberlin students made headlines recently after complaining the school’s cafeterias served “culturally inappropriate” and “inauthentic” dishes — such as improperly prepared General Tso’s chicken.