University of Illinois Rescinds Offer to Professor for his Anti-Israeli Tweets

Aug 06

This morning, I read this disturbing report that the University of Illinois rescinded an offer it made to a professor to join its faculty on account of his anti-Israel tweets. It is important that we write to the University of Illinois protesting this decision.  Please consider sending an e-mail the University Chancellor, Phyllis Wise, explaining why this decision is not consistent with the values central to a university in a democracy.  Her e-mail address is chancellor@illinois.edu (or in the alternative, pmischo@illinois.edu).  Here is the note that I sent her:

Dear Chancellor,

I was disturbed to read today of your decision to rescind an offer previously made and accepted by Professor Steven Salaita as professor in the Department of American Indian Studies because of comments he made on Twitter regarding Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Political speech, including, the often informal, and even acerbic political speech found in social media, is a core, indeed, the core, of the protections granted by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  As a public university, you betray these values when you punish scholars for exercising those rights, even in cases where many in the University community might express horror at the content or the tone of the speech at issue.  I know of no comments made by Professor Salaita that would cast doubt on his qualifications as a scholar in his field or his ability to teach students at the University of Illinois.  Accordingly, it appears that your decision to rescind his appointment – despite the fact that he had already resigned his position at his previous university – is due solely to his exercise of his constitutional right to free expression.  This decision, if not rescinded promptly, will bring great dishonor to a great university, and I accordingly urge you to retract this hasty decision as quickly as possible.

 

Best regards,

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