Between the Lines
by Caryn Meyers Fliegl
THE UNCIVIL UNIVERSITY: Politics and Propaganda in American Education
Gary Tobin, Aryeh Weinberg, and Jenna Ferer
Institute for Jewish & Community Research, www.jewishresearch.org; 2005; 299 pp; $23.50
Consider this: The NCAA last year required several schools to stop using Native American mascots. George Will, the conservative columnist, called the demand to rid the University of Illinois of Chief Illiniwek "chief among silliness."
The Campus Truth Foundation, a nonprofit group, will soon rate campuses on tolerance, providing a new index for IHE comparison.
Clearly free speech and tolerance are hot issues these days. Unafraid of the fire, the authors of this book look at the confluence of freedom and responsibility through the lens of anti-Semitism in higher ed, the recent growth of which they closely document.
Their argument is clear if not controversial. Free speech must be balanced by administrative responsibility for civility, the authors say--and they back up their points with plenty of examples of free speech abuse. A cartoon from Texas A&M University depicts a Nazi guard clubbing a victim, adjacent to an Israeli guard drawn to resemble the Nazi.
The book has stimulated a rainbow of reactions in IHE circles, and for good reason. Agree with the authors or not, they provide many examples and make tough points worth thinking about--ideally without a knee-jerk reaction.