July 7, 2005
The masses of ordinary people more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big. Such a falsehood will never enter their heads, and they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such monstrous effrontery and infamous misrepresentaiton of others.
by Steven Plaut
In recent months DePaul University has become something of an international laughingstock. While retaining neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein on its faculty, a person with no scholarly credentials at all and someone who has been accused by the Anti-Defamation League of being a Holocaust Denier, DePaul also fired Prof. Thomas Klocek because he dared to defend Israel to some fanatic campus jihadnik students. Among those who have denounced DePaul’s neo-Nazi has been Alan Dershowitz.
Many people are comparing DePaul’s employment of Finkelstein to the employment of another neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denier in the Chicago area, Arthur Butz, an Associate Professor at Northwestern University, and some wonder aloud what is wrong with having such people on the faculty if academic freedom is to mean anything. (We, for our part, wonder whether there may be something in the Lake Michigan water that produces these crackpots in the Second City!)
But closer examination of the twin Chicago “academic Nazis” reveals important differences.
Arthur R. Butz is an open nazi and Holocaust Denier who crayoned a “book” insisting that the World War II Holocaust of Jews by Germany was a grand “hoax”. Butz even touts his Nazi ravings on the Northwestern University official web site. (Interestingly, Butz and Noam Chomsky are among the main advocates on behalf of French Holocaust Denier Robert Faurisson .) But there the similarities with Finkelstein end.
First of all, Butz teaches in Northwestern’s electric and computer engineering department, where he teaches technical courses and does not engage in political advocacy in his classes. Indeed, he is prohibited altogether from spouting his nazi views on Northwestern’s campus.
Butz evidently does have some serious academic credentials in his field of expertise. So the lunacies he advocates in the privacy of his swastika-bedecked bedroom are his own business, believes Northwestern. We have trouble understanding why being an open Nazi does not signal to the Northwestern University brass that Butz is deranged and so should not be on the podium at all, but we are the first to concede that academia is crawling with other lunatics. Finkelstein, in contrast, is not teaching a technical subject and does not have any serious scholarly credentials in anything, yet is permitted to use the DePaul podium to conduct his little Nuremberg Rallies.
In addition, Northwestern evidently did not know about Butz’s psychotic Nazi agenda when it hired him, but DePaul knew exactly what it was getting when it hired Finkelstein. Finkelstein had earlier been fired from two adjunct jobs in New York due to his lack of any scholarly credentials, his charlatan pseudo-research, his Jew-bashing bigotry and his vicious ad hominem attacks against writer Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors.
Finkelstein teaches in DePaul’s political science department, where he is allowed to offer a departmental course that is completely one-sided anti-Israel indoctrination and anti-Jewish advocacy. Finkelstein’s course syllabus consists 100% of anti-Israel propagandists and anti-Semites, some of them Marxists. Not a single pro-Israel voice of dissent is permitted to be aired. Where are the rights of DePaul students to hear all sides of an issue? Why are they not being defended against Finkelstein’s podium bullying?
Northwestern – by the way – has been trying to dump Butz for years, by buying out his contract (he has tenure), but Butz has refused. Butz is an enormous embarrassment! But DePaul’s chiefs, led by DePaul’s President, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D., are downright PROUD of their neo-Nazi, insisting that he is a serious scholar (even though no serious scholars consider him one). The people other than Brer Holtschneider who take Finklestein as a serious researcher usually run Holocaust “Revisionism” web sites and worship David Irving.
DePaul would not hire a faculty member in the name of free speech who was claiming that it was actually Jesus Christ who had Pontius Pilate crucified and not the other way around, so what then is a racist flake like Finkelstein doing teaching political science there? If you would like to ask DePaul Prez Holtschneider yourself, his email address is dholtsch[at]depaul.edu.
The Chicago Jewish Star has been commenting at length on the Klocek affair and on DePaul’s toady defense of Finklelstein’s presence on its faculty. As the Star notes: “When the university first hired Mr. Finkelstein in 2001, his reputation as an out-of-control, unbalanced analyst who mixes vile and vitriolic attacks on his critics with a gleeful exhibitionism was firmly established. With so many credible, intelligent, informed scholars of Middle Eastern studies available from which to select, why in the world did DePaul decide to bring this man on its staff?”