Universities and double standards


By Robyn Rosen
February 15, 2011
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Last night, LSE’s management stepped up in the eleventh hour to cancel a debate due to be held by the German Society involving German banker, Thilo Sarrazin.

Mr Sarrazin was widely criticised last year after he made some controversial comments about Jews and Muslims, including writing in his book that “all Jews share a certain gene”.

I’m not going to go into a debate about Mr Sarrazin’s comments because last night’s decision raises other interesting points.

How do universities decide which lectures to cancel?

According to a spokesman, it was cancelled at such a late stage because it was likely to “suffer severe disruption”.

I assume by this, he is referring to planned demonstrations reported in the national press.

His second point was that the student union changed their minds and decided the event could “seriously harm good campus relations”.

But the most telling part of his statement is this: “Reluctantly, LSE decided that it could no longer ensure that the event tonight would be able to proceed in an orderly fashion.”
That word – reluctantly – shows that the university was more worried about the national attention and their lack of security resources rather than the pressing issue of hate speakers on campus.

In December, a lecture by Abdel Bari Atwan caused 30 students to walk out of the auditorium feeling under threat.

The Union of Jewish Students, CST and the university’s Israel Society had all expressed their concerns to the university prior to the event.

Were their voices not loud enough? Why did their concerns not have the same impact as Unite Against Fascism or a report in the Independent?

Atwan has previously been captured on video in 2007 on MEMRI TV saying: "If the Iranian missiles strike Israel - by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight if the Iranian missiles strike Israel."

And yet this event was allowed to go ahead as scheduled, and ultimately ended in chaos.

Universities need to work out and stick to their rules on free speech, what is permitted on campus and how it will be regulated. Because otherwise, more cases of clear double standards will continue.

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 02/15/2011 - 15:59

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2 points

Bang on the nail. In cancelling this talk while allowing Abdel Bari Atwan to go ahead LSE is being craven and utterly hypocritical, and I speak as an alumnus.

I WILL go into at least one of Sarrazin's comments. He said "All Jews share a particular gene" and that was seen as 'antisemitic' by some in Germany.

Sarrazin's statement is not wholly accurate, for two reasons. One, because it is possible to convert to Judaism and two, because not all Jews share a particular gene. But certainly some do. That was shown by – for example - peer-group reviewed DNA research by Dr. Karl Skorecki which showed that the same array of chromosomal markers was found in 97 of 106 Cohens tested (a Cohen is a descendant of the Priests in the High Temple).

Sarrazin’s statement may have been inaccurate but it certainly was not antisemitic. Anyone who says it was is plain wrong.


mattpryor

Tue, 02/15/2011 - 16:08

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2 points

Isn't LSE also hosting IAW? Couldn't we give that racist hate fest a bit of "national attention"?


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 07:03

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2 points

And remember that double standards are a sure sign of antisemitism !


Yoni1

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 08:57

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1 point

"Sarrazin’s statement may have been inaccurate but it certainly was not antisemitic. Anyone who says it was is plain wrong."

There is no 'certainly' about it: that is merely your personal opinion.
I am very uncomfortable with a statement which suggests that Jews are 'racially pure' (and the accuracy of that statement is neither here nor there). It is but a tiny step from that statement, to accusing Jews of maintaining racial purity.

As to the LSE: I will post here later, when I can find it, an email I urge everyone to write to about antisemitism at British universities.


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 09:05

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1 point

I don't see how the statement "All Jews share a particular gene" could be problematic, except if it is interpreted in extreme ways.
I guess all Jews have the genes that encode for eyes and blood...
I have to mention that they also share these genes with the rest of humanity.


Yoni1

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 09:25

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2 points

Yes, Jose, we are aware of it, thank you.
We are not talking about the science of genetics. We are talking about statements made by people who wish to regard Jews in a negative ways.


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 10:33

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2 points

Well, I can see how this statement can be distorted to make it look pro or antisemitic, but as it is, it would reflect only the extremism (on one side or the other) of the reader.

Without any context, how can one interpret correctly such a quote?


jose (not verified)

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 11:14

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2 points

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thilo_Sarrazin

An uproar was caused at the same time by an interview with Welt am Sonntag in which he claimed that "all Jews share a certain gene like all Basques share a certain gene that distinguishes these from other people."[25][26][27] He subsequently offered his regrets for the irritation caused[20] and explained his source, for instance, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,[28] referring to international media reports on a recent study by Gil Atzmon et al. that appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics.[29][30] In 2009, however, he described the Nazi extermination of Jews as "an enormous intellectual bloodletting", a loss which he claimed Germany in general, and Berlin in particular, has never recovered from.

So we are clearly not speaking of an antisemite there. Then the 'gene' in question is not portrayed in a favourable or unfavourable way, just one that would distinguish one people from another. Of course the assertion is a wide exaggeration, because of the many factors already mentioned, but the existence of a Jewish people, with close genetic similarities that deny the stupidities of Shlomo Zand, is a fact. And from someone who has no special knowledge of genetics, this is what was awkwardly intended.

No need to jump at his throat, I guess.


Yoni1

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 11:23

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1 point

Yes, all right.

Anyway, as for antisemitism on university campuses, I would urge everyone living in the UK to write to Sally Sealey, 'policy advisor' in the 'Integration Division' of the Department for Communities and Local Government (sally(dot)sealey(at)communities(dot)gsi(dot)gov(dot)uk), one of the sidekicks of (LibDem, IIRC) Under Secretary of State Andrew Stunell. She is "aware of the issue", "deeply concerned" and "determined that we do something practical".

I am not planning to hold my breath. These useless people will do nothing about antisemitism on university campuses, antisemitism in Islamic schools, or Hizb-ul-Tahrir. They are smug idiots with comfy lives in leafy suburbs, and nil understanding of the issues (and they couldn't give a flying toss anyway).

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