Sakset/Fra hofta

Lars Gule er ute og gir et helhjertet forsvar for Norman Finkelstein i Aftenposten i et svar til Martin Bodd. Gule sier hans produksjon kvalifiserer til universitetsansettelse – tenure. Men hvorfor nevner ikke Gule at Finkelstein nylig ble avvist ved DePaul-universitetet?

Det ville vært redelig å nevne denne høyst aktuelle saken. Anthony Paletta redgjør for den på Martin Kramers webside. Den er ikke enkel: Institutt for statsvitenskap stemte for ham 9-0, og også opptakelseskomiteen kalte ham en «utmerket lærer» og spennende, provoserende, interessant. Men når resultatet likevel ble 4-3 mot ansettelse var det fordi minoriteter ved universitetet hadde protestert mot sider ved Finkelsteins forskning. Alle vet hvilke minoritet det er: den Finkelstein selv tilhører. Det ble referert til tvil om nøyaktigheten av noen av hans dokumentasjon og sammenhengen i noe av standpunktene, og reist spørsmål om Finkelstein bevisst går inn for å såre andre mennesker.

Det var særlig det siste som var utslagsgivende. Paletta beklager det. Da blir det en persons kollegialitet og sosiale evner som bedømmes, og ikke forskningen. Men den som har sett og hørt Finkelstein vet at det er en sammenheng mellom de to: en skjev fremstilling og krenkende språk.

Paletta skulle ønske det var substansen han ble bedømt ut fra, og ikke sosiale kriterier. Det siste gjør ham bare til martyr.

It’s difficult to be anything but pleased by the failure of Norman Finkelstein’s DePaul tenure bid. He’s a figure of repulsive opinions, given to frequent invective and doubtful scholarship. Yet all should look more carefully at DePaul University’s explanation of the step before celebrating. The logical foregrounding for their tenure decision would have been problems with his published scholarship; instead, DePaul justified their decision chiefly with talk of «respect for colleagues.» There’s little doubt that Finkelstein is a jerk, but DePaul’s grounding of its refusal in that fact – instead of holes in his academic work – leaves it open to justified criticism. «Collegiality» is a potentially insidious concept – just ask Walter Kehowski, a professor at Glendale Community College, who was just released from a forced administrative leave for the crime of emailing George Washington’s Thanksgiving address to fellow professors. The crime? Creating a «hostile environment.» Finkelstein’s faults are clearly of a higher order than this, but all should be wary of arguments premised upon a professor’s sociability, instead of his scholarship.

Consider what the University has said about Finkelstein and the case. The University Board on Promotion and Tenure labeled him an «excellent teacher» as well as a «nationally known scholar and public intellectual, considered provocative, challenging, and intellectually interesting.» The Political Science department voted for him by a measure of 9-3, and another review board approved him by a 5-0 margin. Then Finkelstein encountered trouble. The Performance and Tenure board voted 4-3 against him. They cite the departmental minority’s objections to his scholarship – the «accuracy of some of the evidence he uses in his scholarship and the cogency of some of his arguments» – yet passed over that point, on to express concern about:

…the intellectual character of his work and his persona as a public intellectual. The [UBPT] acknowledges that Dr. Finkelstein is a controversial author, provocative and challenging. Yet, some might interpret parts of his scholarship as «deliberately hurtful» as well as provocative more for inflammatory effect than to carefully critique or challenge accepted assumptions.

The DePaul President followed in this vein in his rejection letter to Finkelstein:

Moreover, on the record before me, I cannot in good faith conclude that you honor the obligations to «respect and defend the free inquiry of associates,» «show due respect for the opinions of others,» and «strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues.» Nor can I conclude that your scholarship honors our University’s commitment to creating an environment in which all persons engaged in research and learning exercise academic freedom and respect it in others.

DePaul Flubs Up On Finkelstein
By Anthony Paletta

Finkelstein fusker ikke, Bodd!