The continued employment by Oberlin College of a blatantly antisemitic assistant professor can no longer be ignored, the head of an alumni group told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Melissa Landa of Oberlin Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) — part of a national network engaged in combating antisemitism and anti-Israel bias on campus — blasted her alma mater for not having taken swift and serious action against Joy Karega, who also publicly blamed Israel for global terrorism in comments posted on the internet.
Last week, Oberlin ACF sent a letter to Board of Trustees Chair Clyde McGregor — who in a March 5 statement called Karega’s posts “antisemitic and abhorrent” — asking for clarification on Karega’s continued employment and the school’s ostensible investigation of her behavior. The letter — which was obtained by The Algemeiner — stated in part:
…As you may know, members of our chapter were the first to bring Professor Joy Karega’s antisemitic Facebook posts to the attention of the college…
We were encouraged by your response of March 5, in which you stated, ‘These grave issues must be considered expeditiously. In consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Board has asked the administration and faculty to challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings and to report back to the Board.’ We share your view that Professor Karega’s posts are repugnant, and we are appalled that she openly shared her antisemitic views with students on Facebook and during her class sessions.
Given that four months have passed since your statement and that the academic year begins next month, we are writing to inquire whether you have received the report that you requested.
Our current understanding is that Professor Karega is still employed at Oberlin College and is scheduled to teach classes at Oberlin during the upcoming semester. If this information is correct, we remain gravely concerned. To date, Professor Karega has brought shame and disgrace to Oberlin College…
We trust that our alma mater will redeem itself in response to Professor Karega’s public display of hate and to the campus climate that allowed her hateful messages to appear for years without public outcry…
Landa told The Algemeiner: “The last word communicated to us was five months ago. How can it be that we have not heard a word since then?”
While Landa said she “doesn’t believe Oberlin is attempting to sweep the issue under the rug,” she criticized the school’s handling of Karega’s provocative behavior, telling The Algemeiner, “If a professor can say things that are so atrocious, and the college can deliberate behind closed doors for months, with no transparency or communication to the public, then that’s a major problem.”
“We can’t really monitor what everyone thinks, but for a college professor to think she is in an environment where it is acceptable and legitimate to make these claims publicly is very troubling,” Landa said. “Antisemitism is everywhere. I’m sure many people have these thoughts, but at least in today’s world, for the most part, people have learned to kind of monitor and censor them publicly.”
As reported by The Algemeiner in March, it was first revealed by The Tower that Karega’s Facebook page was riddled with years’ worth of posts — that have subsequently been deleted — invoking traditional antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories found in the notorious forgery the Protocols of the Elder of Zion.
In one January 2015 post, following the infamous Charlie Hebdo murders, Karega shared an image of an ISIS terrorist disguised as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — with a Star of David tattoo on his arm and the acronym JSIL, a slur used to compare Israel to the Islamic State. The caption accompanying the image implies the attack was a “false flag” aimed at halting French support for Palestinians.
In March 2015, Karega shared a blog post with an embedded video of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In the video, Farrakhan says, “It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israeli and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attack.” Karega wrote, “Farrakhan is truth-telling in this video.”
She also accused Israelis and Jews of being behind ISIS, the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 — and of controlling the world.
Landa said that this attitude on the part of Karega — who teaches composition and rhetoric — “spills over into the classroom” and is reflected in her “use of articles that are very hostile and anti-Israel. She fails to balance them out with counter-arguments. She is not actually teaching students to think deeply or look at different perspectives. She is using her classroom to express her very biased political perspective.”
Landa also took issue with Karega’s defenders, who claim she has a right to freedom of speech. “Free speech means that we can stand on a street corner and say whatever we want. But in the context of a private college, where parents are paying a lot of tuition, and where the college rests on its laurels built on a tradition of equality, it’s problematic that there was tolerance, and in some cases, defense of her speaking this way,” she said. “There is a real line that was crossed, and excusing Karega as speaking within parameters of free speech really mischaracterizes the issue. The issue is her judgement about when, where and how she expressed herself.”
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal