August 26, 2002


THE TERRORIST PROFESSOR: Last week, on the same day that Opie and Anthony were fired by WNEW, the University of South Florida took steps to remove Sami Al-Arian, an engineering and computer science professor who has drawn fire for his connections to international terrorism. No one doubts that Al-Arian has been vocal both in his support of suicide bombers and in his lack of opposition to Al-Qaida, but the soon-to-be-deposed prof believes that the issue is really academic freedom.
Al-Arian is the latest fraudulant professor to rise to prominence for his questionable activism in a field completely unrelated to his area of expertise, much like Holocaust denier Arthur Butz of Northwestern (a professor of engineering) and loony America-hater Noam Chomsky (a professor of linguistics at MIT; how can he have time to teach when he writes 50 books a year?). It is ludicrous for such people to hide behind "academic freedom" when they are doing dangerous and certainly un-academic things which certainly do not contribute in any way to responsible intellectual discourse. Al-Arian's indisputable links to known terrorists shouldn't fall under the perview of "free exchange of ideas;" this guy doesn't belong on the faculty, he belongs in jail.
Now normally when professors come up with wacko ideas, it's because they have to keep their jobs- in order to maintain tenure, academics must be published with some degree of frequency. I have long maintained that most of the truly ridiculous theories in the world exist because some academic had to come up with something in order to not be fired.
But my favorite part of this was when Al-Arian didn't deny that he once declared "Death to Israel," and actually said that "'Death to Israel' had nothing to do with killing Jews.'" Does this remind anyone else of when Ice T tried to argue that "Cop Killer" had nothing to do with killing cops?

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 26, 2002 01:46 AM
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