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Academic Freedom and Responsibility

Reader comment on item: The War on Campus

Submitted by Carolyn Katwan (United States), Sep 18, 2002 at 01:27

Great article about the Netanyahu / Ashrawi campus protests .

At the root of the unrest which seems to be taking seed on college campuses is the question of academic freedom.

I was under the impression that freedom went hand-in-hand with responsibility. I have been concerned that the academic freedom enjoyed by professors on campuses all-too-often embraces a one-sided perspective, thereby negating the responsibility of providing fair and balanced information to students. In true academia, would it not be responsible to present students with fora of learning that provide data that they could evaluate and from which they could formulate their own conclusions? But that must be utopia, the world of mythical imaginings into which anti-Israel --and anti-Semitic -- rhetoric collectively fall.

Academic freedom seems to herald the left...a left that has, in many cases, included learned, Jewish scholars. In our own homes, there is room for debate. When that debate is aired under the watchful eye of those who oppose Israel, it results in "the other side" pointing to it, highlighting it, and putting spin on it that proves that "even the Jews oppose policy X, Y or Z". It is a risk of the freedom we enjoy - that those who would suppress freedom, turn and churn it against us...as is continually done when Israeli journalists and professors are quoted in pro-Palestinian diatribes.

So do we abandon our freedom? How do we teach our children to question the authoritative statements of their professors and sort out political myth from historic reality? How can they stand up against protesters that are bred from the top of the university environment down -- or is it from the centers of learning and out?

Responding requires more than memorizing fact. Our adversaries in the public relations war are great at quoting chapter and verse - like programmed missionaires.

As the countless names of victims were read at Ground Zero on 9/11 and Hanan Ashrawi spoke on a campus in Colorado (on what must be part of a speaking tour), was there celebrating in the Arabic world? If CNN was not there to cover it, I guess it did not happen.

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