Steven Salaita’s Twitter conduct raised questions
We previously featured Virginia Tech, and soon-to-be U. Illinois (at Urbana-Champaign) Professor Steven Salaita, someone committed to the destruction of Israel, for his tweet partly blaming Zionism for anti-Semitic outbursts around the world:
That was not even the worst of his tweets. I’ve been following his account for months now, and his Twitter action was hateful against Israel to the point of deranged (view his tweets at the bottom of the post and see if you agree).
Apparently, these tweets have cost him his job offer at U. Illinois, but not before he resigned from Virginia Tech. It appears that because his “offer” was contingent on various approvals, he thought he had an actual “offer” but really only had nothing but a promise to consider hiring him and a departmental recommendation to hire.
I thought something was up when he stopped tweeting on August 2.
Via Inside Higher Ed:
Many faculty job offers (which are well-vetted by college officials before they go out) contain language stating that the offer is pending approval by the institution’s board of trustees. It’s just a formality, since many college bylaws require such approval.
Not so with a job offer made to Steven G. Salaita, who was to have joined the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this month. The appointment was made public, and Salaita resigned from his position as associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. But he was recently informed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that the appointment would not go to the university’s board, and that he did not have a job to come to in Illinois, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The university declined to confirm the blocked appointment….
Salaita did not respond to numerous calls and emails.
The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita’s tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.
Expect him now to become a rallying cry for the anti-Israel movement, which will portray it as a move based on his anti-Israel view, as opposed to his bizarre conduct.
Inside Higher Ed. further writes:
Cary Nelson, a longtime English professor at Illinois and a past president of the American Association of University Professors, has defended many professors who hold unpopular views. But he has also in the past said that it was legitimate — at the point of hiring — to consider issues of civility and collegiality. In this case, he said, that would lead him to oppose Salaita’s appointment.
“I think the chancellor made the right decision,” he said via email. “I know of no other senior faculty member tweeting such venomous statements — and certainly not in such an obsessively driven way. There are scores of over-the-top Salaita tweets. I also do not know of another search committee that had to confront a case where the subject matter of academic publications overlaps with a loathsome and foul-mouthed presence in social media. I doubt if the search committee felt equipped to deal with the implications for the campus and its students. I’m glad the chancellor did what had to be done.”
Here are some of his tweets, what do you think? Did he cross a line from political to so bizarre that there are doubts about fitness to teach? Should a university be compelled to hire someone who engages in bizarre behavior in public?
There are some themes in his tweets beyond the hate of Israel — stoking racial issues and supporting the Boycottt, Divest and Sanction movement. (He’s author of a Guide to how faculty can practice BDS.) He was very involved in the American Studies Association boycott resolution, hardly a surprise there.
Mocking the American “Lone Soldiers” killed in Israel:
Trying to stoke racial tension by blaming aid to Israel for Detroit’s problems:
He retweeted a horrible veiled threat towards Jeffrey Goldberg (now it was just a RT, but still):
These must be most ironic tweets of all:
— Nurit Baytch (@NuritBaytch) August 6, 2014