Letters to the Editor
—Edward Newman, School of Social Administration, Saul Axelrod, College of Education, & Marsha Zibalese-Crawford, School of Social Administration
April 18, 2008
Innuendo Also Demonizes
Over the last year faculty union officials and some faculty members themselves have written letters to the Faculty Herald defending academic freedom, circulated a petition claiming that a retiring professor’s credibility was undermined by non-faculty influences, and that anti-Islamic influences were somehow responsible for all of this. The “good guys” in this flurry of letters and other activities were the union heads, some supportive professors, and defenders of newly retired Professor Mahmoud M. Ayoub for the establishment of an Islamic endowed chair in his name. (Professor Ayoub was journalistically reported to be upset because Temple’s Administration delayed acceptance of outside funds from a national Islamic organization, still under government investigation. The organization’s records have been under federal investigation—albeit for an unreasonable period of time).
The “good guys” wrote to the Herald and gave interviews to the local press showing how they (a) stand for academic freedom, (b) are critical of Temple for not accepting the gift offered by the national Islamic organization, and (c) are critical of the University administration for accepting a generous but smaller gift for the same purpose by a local donor, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
A strong innuendo behind these arguments is that anti-Islamic forces are behind Temple’s action. The implication here could be that “anti- Islam” means pro-Israel, or a part of some kind of Jewish or pro-Zionist cabal that may be exercising undue influence.
We support the policy set by our Faculty Senate, our duly constituted faculty body for setting forth standards for academic freedom based, in part, on fairness without intimidation in the classroom. We ask our faculty union to re-focus its mission so that its primary goal once again emphasizes protecting and supporting its members.
We support our Faculty Senate’s primary responsibility for sustaining academic freedom for faculty and students. The primary responsibility for protecting and sustaining academic freedom lies first and foremost with the faculty itself and with its representatives in the Faculty Senate.
As union members and as strong advocates of academic freedom, we regret that the circumstances surrounding awarding an endowment are being used as the occasion to promote other political and promotional agendas, however worthy. We especially regret the resulting harmful effects upon others, of stooping to ideological innuendoes as the pretext for these misdirected promotional strategies.
Edward Newman, School of Social Administration
Saul Axelrod, College of Education
Marsha Zibalese-Crawford, School of Social Administration