Friday, May 20, 2005

 

The New Blog Is Up

The new blog is up and running today!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

 

More On Newsweek

I already mentioned that this would happen earlier this week, and now Yahoo! News reports that Muslims are skeptical of the retraction by Newsweek:
Across the Islamic world, many were unconvinced by Newsweek's retraction of the report. From Afghanistan to Egypt, some people believed the U.S. had pressured Newsweek to deny the story, using the magazine as a "scapegoat."

In many countries, politicians — skeptical of Newsweek's about-face — said the United States should make public the details of its investigation into the reported desecration.

The American media's handling of this situation is not helping matters.
 

Pics From Afghanistan


Maj. Brian Ryder, Combined Joint Task Force 76 logistics maintenance chief, hands out school supplies to young Afghan girls during a humanitarian mission to an all-girl school and ophanage in Charikar village near Bagram Airfield, May 9. This is just another example of what the media here in America won't show. Posted by Hello
 

The Media Continued

Here is ABC's Terry Moran yesterday on the Hugh Hewitt show:
There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing its job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor.

Thanks Terry, I will file that under things I already know.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

 

Ah, now this all makes perfect sense. Posted by Hello
 

Getting It Right On Newsweek

An editorial in today's SAEN discusses the recent kerfuffle involving Newsweek:
The United States is involved in a war unlike any other in its history. This is no time for irresponsibility — whether from insensitive military members or sloppy reporters. The stakes are too high, and extremists are eager for propaganda coups.

Congratulations to the editorial board for getting it right. If you want to read more, check out the latest from Jonathan Gurwitz. You can see past SAEN Watch commentary on the Newsweek scandal here, here and here.

Update:

Paul Marshall has an excellent article on this over at National Review Online. Here is an excerpt:
The shakily sourced May 9 Newsweek report that interrogators had desecrated a Koran at Guantanamo Bay is likely to do more damage to the U.S. than the Abu Ghraib prison scandals. What is also deeply disturbing is that the journalists who put the report out seem somewhat clueless about this reality.

I have to admit to being amazed out how clueless some in the media have been about this event. Yesterday I pointed out that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blames a White House conspiracy for Newsweek's troubles, and today the New York Times reports this quote from Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at Harvard's Shorenstien Center:
"This is hardly the first time that the administration has sought to portray the American media as inadequately patriotic..."

Unbelievable. Mr. Kalb equates holding Newsweek accountable for a false story with calling the magazine unpatriotic. Sadly, the reactions of Olbermann and Kalb seem to be the norm and prove that most in the media have learned nothing from what Newsweek has done; preferring instead to deflect blame onto the White House of all places. This will happen again. The obstinacy of the MSM guarantees that it will.
 

Just Who Is The Commando?

This post is just some housekeeping about the next few days. Our new blog, All Things Conservative, will open for business this Friday. In the meantime, don't expect too much blogging here at SAEN Watch as we are focusing on getting the new site locked and loaded. Not only will we be unveiling the new site, but we will be answering a question which for centuries has stumped some of the best minds ever produced: who is the Alamo City Commando? That's right folks, Kiss took off their makeup, and now by popular demand I, the Alamo City Commando, will reveal my real identity. You'll be able to tell your grandchildren you were there, back in the spring of 2005, when the Alamo City Commando's true identity was unveiled!

--Commando
 

That's Gratitude For You

Garfield High School in Seattle is following the example of some colleges and attempting to ban military recruiting from campus:
The school is perhaps one of the first in the nation to debate and vote against military recruiting on high school campuses - a topic already simmering at the college level. In fact, the Supreme Court recently agreed to decide whether the federal government can withhold funds from colleges that bar military recruiters.

The left just loves free speech, as long as they agree with it. Do you think that statement is harsh? Chew on this: big-time lefty Bill Moyers recently said this about all you gullible saps who foolishly watch Fox News, via my good friend at Rhetoric & Rhythm:
Hear me: an unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too.”

Let me translate: conservatives are stupid.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

 

Grand Opening Soon!

We at SAEN Watch are proud to announce that our new site is under construction. We will have new contributors and new topics of discussion. So stop on by All Things Conservative from time to time and watch the birth of a new blog!

Commando
 

Only women can discuss abortion?

In an article on the bill passed in the Texas House strengthening constraints on abortion, SAEN writer Lomi Kriel brings up a non sequitur often used by abortion supporters.
The debate, which spanned five hours, saw many parliamentary attempts to block or kill the bill and involved few women. At one point, about a dozen male lawmakers crowded around the dais, discussing one parliamentary move.
First of all, is Ms. Kriel trying to imply that female legislators were denied the right to join in this discussion? If not, as seems obvious, then what exactly is her point regarding the gender of those discussing the bill?

This is clearly an instance of a purported news article containing the ideological opinion of the writer. Is there anyone who doubts Ms. Kriel holds a personal belief in favor of abortion?

Another irrelevant remark:
"Do you know how many gentlemen up there have given birth?" asked Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio.
Fine, Ms. McClendon. The next time a legislature discusses a bill relating to war and combat, we would appreciate it if all the women sit down and shut up. And if we talk about bills to register guns, are only gun owners to be included in the debate?

That would make just as much sense...or nonsense.
 

Thanks For Proving My Point

Some of my liberal friends were upset at me yesterday when I made the comment that the Democrats never offer up policy alternatives of their own preferring to offer up only insults. And yesterday, Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler was kind enough to back up my contention(emphasis mine):
Rep. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, broke with his party leadership yesterday and introduced a plan to fix Social Security by raising taxes, saying it's time more Democrats join the dialogue by introducing plans of their own.

"I hope mine is the first of several Democratic plans that are offered," Mr. Wexler said. "I believe it's time Democrats offer an alternative to the president."

What is really funny though is that Democrats quickly distanced themselves from the plan:
Mr. Wexler said he talked to Mrs. Pelosi about his plan, and that "it's certainly fair to say Mrs. Pelosi did not encourage me to do this."

"This is not the Democratic plan," said Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider. "When the Democratic caucus is ready to put their plan forth, they will."

When a Republican breaks ranks with the party on anything he or she is described as a maverick; an independent voice in a party of yes-men. The media run glowing puff pieces on them, but don't expect any of that for Wexler. In fact, even though this is the first alternative of any kind offered by a Democrat on Social Security, the SAEN doesn't even report it.
 

Newsweek Blows It, Media Blame White House

This is so over the top it is almost hard to believe. Here is the opening paragraph of the front page story in today's SAEN about the Newsweek retraction:
Newsweek issued a formal retraction Monday...after the magazine came under increasingly sharp criticism from the White House, State Department and Pentagon.

That's right folks, the story wasn't retracted because it was false, but because the Administration forced it to. By choosing to report the story this way the MSM will only prevent the retraction from being excepted in the Muslim world. As AP is reporting, Pakistan is not accepting the retraction because it believes, and the American media is reporting, that it did so under pressure:
"Whatever magazine has done now is under pressure (from the U.S. government)," he said. "It has not denied what it has reported and many people freed from Guantanamo Bay have narrated the same thing."

You would have a hard time convincing me that the MSM didn't know this would happen when they chose this course of action.

Update:

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC goes one step further than just blaming the White House. He actually calls for the resignation of Scot McClellan because, you see, Newsweek was the victim of a big White House conspiracy:
The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet - or has its proxies do it for them.

That's beyond shameful. It's treasonous.

So Keith says that the White House acted treasonously because Newsweek reported a false story that got people killed. Huh? Only in America, people. Newsweek gets in trouble because it reports a rumor as fact, and Olbermann defends Newsweek with...a rumor.

The only real question left unanswered in my mind is: if photos exist of a Quran in a toilet would they qualify for an NEA grant?

Update #2:

Welcome NRO readers! We welcome comments.

Update #3:

Jonah Goldberg is getting a strong public reaction to Olbermann:
"Wow. I suppose this shouldn't be surprise, but people really dislike the guy. I mean really dislike. Getting lots of (unprintable) email from people who make long -- but expletive laced -- arguments that he's a hack, a moron, a jerk etc. I'd hate paying him the compliment of revealing that some folks care about him so much. It almost makes him sound like a leftwing O'Reilly. Of course, the big difference is that lots of people watch O'Reilly."

If you actually want to read more about Keith then check out Olbermann Watch.

Monday, May 16, 2005

 

Democrats Suffering From Foot In Mouth

Who knew that Howard Dean was going to be so much fun as DNC Chairman? In a recent statement he said Tom DeLay needs to spend time in jail for being accused of ethics violations; however, back in 2003 Dean was keen on giving Osama bin Laden the benefit of the doubt. Here is Dean on Osama bin Laden in December of 2003:
"I've resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found," Dean said. "I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials. So I'm sure that is the correct sentiment of most Americans, but I do think if you're running for president, or if you are president, it's best to say that the full range of penalties should be available. But it's not so great to prejudge the judicial system."

And here is Dean on Tom Delay from May 14th of this year:
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Party, said yesterday that the US House majority leader, Tom DeLay, ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence," referring to allegations of unethical conduct against the Republican leader.

Get that? If you kill more than 3,000 Americans you get the benefit of the doubt, but if you are accused of violating ethics rules you get to go straight to jail. What is it with Democrats lately? First we have Harry Reid calling the president a loser, now Dean sticks his foot in his mouth about Delay, and we have Reid at it again, revealing that he has seen the FBI files of one of President Bush's judicial nominees:
Minority Leader Harry Reid strayed from his prepared remarks on the Senate floor yesterday and promised to continue opposing one of President Bush's judicial nominees based on "a problem" he said is in the nominee's "confidential report from the FBI."

According to the Washington Times story, not only should Reid not be mentioning the FBI files, but he shouldn't have access to them either because he isn't on the judiciary committee or from the nominees home state:
Furthermore, a "Memorandum of Understanding" covering the use of FBI background reports limits access to committee members and the nominee's home-state senators. Mr. Reid would fall into neither category.

Oddly enough, even the nominee is denied access to their FBI files:
Confidants of Judge Saad said yesterday that the judge would release the file but that he has never seen it, let alone obtained copies of it. Judge Saad is not permitted to see the file, Senate staffers said.

So what is missing from all of this incendiary talk? Ideas. The Democrats have no new ideas. Sure they tell us Bush's plan on this or that will destroy the ecosystem of starve old people, and they will tell us that a nominee of the president's is an angry guy or has a "blemish" in their FBI file, but they won't (or can't) propose any new ideas.
 

Why An Apology Is Not Enough

Not surprisingly Aljazeera is not reporting that Newsweek has retracted it's false story about the Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay. Aljazeera did; however, report the initial story. The White House has commented on this story, via Reuters:
The White House said on Monday that a Newsweek report based on an anonymous source had damaged the U.S. image overseas by alleging that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay.

The report sparked violent protests across the Muslim world -- from Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan, Indonesia and Gaza. In the past week the reported desecration was condemned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and by the Arab League.

McClellan complained that the story was "based on a single anonymous source who could not personally substantiate the allegation that was made."

"The report has had serious consequences," he said. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

Newsweek has apologized, but I don't think that will be enough. In fact, it was more of a non-apology apology as Mark points out. As damagaing as the photos from Abu Ghraib were I think this will turn out to be far worse. In their zeal to make the Bush administration and the military look bad Newsweek ran a story that wasn't true, and it got people killed.
 

And I lament the founding of the PLO

On page 9A this morning: an AP article, online here, whining about the Palestinians being removed by the UN nearly 60 years ago to make room for the survivors of Europe's holocaust.

The author: "Mohammad Daraghmeh". How's that for journalistic balance and objectivity?
 

Blacks profiling blacks

Is it not ironic that in the SAEN's latest "racial profiling" story, the accompanying photos (not online) depict a black police officer "profiling" blacks?

This is an important point. The use of statistics to try to prove the existence of racial profiling leaves out the personal aspect of the charge: those who believe in racial profiling thereby believe that individual police officers deliberately and unfairly accost minority citizens based solely on the color of their skin. They believe, by definition, that our police officers are racists. Is that what our police officers deserve from the community they serve at the daily risk of their lives?

If there are individual police officers who are racist, then deal with them individually. But stop using the myth of racial profiling to taint the entire police department with unsubstantiated, dishonest charges of racism.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

 

Newsweek murders innocent civilians

UPDATE: It's even worse: the person who desecrated the Koran was not an infidel American...it was a Muslim detainee.
"They have looked through the logs, the interrogation logs, and they cannot confirm yet that there were ever the case of the toilet incident, except for one case, a log entry, which they still have to confirm, where a detainee was reported by a guard to be ripping pages out of a Koran and putting in the toilet to stop it up as a protest," he said. "But not where the U.S. did it."
[End update]

As you probably know, I normally restrain my posts to critique of the Express-News, but this is too disgusting to let go unremarked.
Newsweek magazine on Sunday said it erred in a May 9 report that said U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article.

"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Editor Mark Whitaker wrote in the magazine's latest issue, due to appear on U.S. newsstands on Monday.

Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Koran down the toilet.
Sixteen people were killed in Afghanistan during riots provoked by this slanderous Newsweek article. You will excuse me if I am somewhat less than civil in this post.

As Instapundit notes, "People died, and U.S. military and diplomatic efforts were damaged, because -- let's be clear here -- Newsweek was too anxious to get out a story that would make the Bush Administration and the military look bad."

For once, I must say to those who, against all evidence, maintain the media is not biased against Bush: Kiss. My. Ass. To paraphrase the mindless idiotarian mantra: "Newsweek lied, people died." All just so Newsweek could try to discredit the War on Terrorism.

Newsweek has an accomplice in the murders...a foolish "human rights" lawyer credulous enough to believe his terrorist clients in Guantanamo.
Human rights lawyer Tom Wilner, who represents several Kuwaiti prisoners at Guantanamo, said in February that his clients told him their Korans were thrown on the floor, stepped on and thrown into toilets at Guantanamo.
Liar. Traitorous lying lawyer.

And here is the "vigorously critical free press" we keep hearing about:
The magazine said other news organizations had already aired charges of Koran desecration based "only on the testimony of detainees."
Based only on the testimony of detainees. They don't believe anything their own government tells them, but they believe everything terrorist detainees tell them.

That pretty much sums up today's "vigorously critical free press."

The only bright side is that now, hopefully, no matter WHAT horrible things are alleged to occur at Guantanamo, no one will believe it. We might even save on a few airline tickets.

Friday, May 13, 2005

 

The Press Should Be Embarrassed

On page 4A of today's SAEN is a story about the nomination of John Bolton being voted out of committee, without recommendation. Considering that just a few weeks ago the media were saying the Bolton's nomination was on the verge of dying this has to be good news, right? Ha, don't bet on it:
The procedural move spared Bush outright defeat in the Republican-led panel but still represented an embarrassing set-back early in his second term.

Let' forget for the moment that calling the vote an "embarrassing set-back" is the reporter's opinion and does not belong in a news story. The fact is Bush won; no defeat and no embarrassment. The Bolton nomination will go to the floor and he will be confirmed, something left out of the SAEN's version of the story, but in the original:
It was not clear when Bolton's nomination would come to the Senate floor. Republicans hold a 55-44 majority, making confirmation likely.

In fact, considering everything the media and Senate Democrats did do torpedo the nomination I think you can say this is a win, albeit an ugly one, but a win nonetheless. Based on the way this story has been covered, the media are the ones who should be embarrassed.
 

An Iraqi Speaks The Truth

Words the left and the media in this country should take to heart, from Husayn at Democracy in Iraq(is here!) blog:
So you ask me, Husayn, was it worth it. What have you gotten? What has Iraq achieved? These are questions I get a lot.

To may outsiders, like those who protested last year, who will protest today. This was a fools errand, it brought nothing but death and destruction. I am sheltered in Iraq, but I know how the world feels, how people have come to either love or hate Bush, as though he's the embodiment of this war. As though this war is part of Bush, they forget the over twenty million Iraqis, they forget the Middle Easterners, they forget the average person on the street, the average man with the average dream.

Ask him if it was worth it. Ask him what is different. Ask him if he would go through it again, go ahead ask him, ask me, many of you have.

Now I answer you, I answer you on behalf of myself, and my countrymen. I don't care what your news tells you, what your television and newspapers say, this is how we feel. Despite all that has happened. Despite all the hurt, the pain, blood, sweat and tears. These two years have given us hope we never had.
Before March 20, 2003, we were in a dungeon. We did not see the light. Saddam Hussein was crushing Iraq's spirit slowly, we longed for his end, but knew we could not challenge him, or his diabolical seed who would no doubt follow him and continue his generation of hell on Earth.

Since then, we now have hope. Hope is not a tangible thing, but it is something, it is more than being blinded by darkness, by being stuck in a mental pit without any future.

Hope has been the greatest product of the last two years. No doubt, many have died, many have died by accident or due to crimes. But their sacrifices are not, and will not be for nothing. I refuse to let it be, and my countrymen stand with me.

Our cities are smoking, our graveyards full, and terrorists in our midst. But we are not defeated. We are not down, we are not regretful. We are not going to surrender. For all that the two years have brought, the greatest thing they have given us is a future, and a view of the finish line[emphasis mine].


***

And be sure you check out Arthur Chrenkoff's chart of good news from Iraq for the month of April that appeared in today's NY Times (hat tip: Mike Thomas!).
 

A New Script For Michael Moore

Looks like Michael Moore will have a new script to work with soon:
Ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has decided to write his memoirs from an Iraqi jail where he is awaiting trial for more than 20 years of abuses, a British newspaper reported, quoting one of his lawyers.

Giovanni di Stefano, a member of Hussein's legal team, said Saddam decided recently to start writing about his childhood in Iraq, his early exile to Egypt and his military adventures in Iran and Kuwait, the Financial Times reported.

He will try to embarrass the great powers that once saw him as a useful buffer against the expansionist ambitions of Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, di Stefano was quoted as saying.

If anyone can help Saddam "embarrass" the great powers and turn him into a victim it's Michael Moore:
To describe this film (Farenhiet 9/11) as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

Or maybe this director is the best guy for the job since he has experience sugar-coating the life of a brutal, murderous thug.
 

Friday Funnies


It is Friday so how about a few laughs? Mucho thanks to Bountyhunter for this picture. Posted by Hello
 

The Tyranny Of Academic Freedom

Back on April 8 Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia wrote about the repression in academia of those who are suspected of not supporting Israel (see previous comments about this column here):
A move to muzzle academics is well under way. Tenure, the only barrier preventing recrimination against faculty who teach and express their views on controversial issues, is also under attack.

The purpose of this insidious movement is clear:
One of the revisions mandates that in the classroom, faculty members are "expected not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to his or her subject."

This isn't quite the gag that El-Kikhia makes it out to be. This is an excerpt from as American Association of University Professors (AAUP) statement on controversy in the classroom:
Controversy is often at the heart of instruction; good teaching is often served by referring to contemporary controversies even if only to stimulate student interest and debate. If these watchdogs have their way, a professor of classics, history, ethics, or even museum administration could make no reference to the Iraq conflict or to George Bush—in their courses on the Roman Empire, colonialism, the morality of war, or trade in the artifacts of ancient civilizations—because the "subject" of these courses is not this war or this president.

Far from banning controversial subject matter in the classroom, this statement makes it clear that the AAUP believes that controversy is an important element of an education even if the subject has nothing to do with the class being taught. Furthermore, El-Kikhia feels that those who voice opposition to Israel are being targeted by the new rules:
Middle Eastern scholars are finding it very difficult to teach, write or lecture on U.S. foreign policy or Israeli politics. They are accused by those on the extreme right of "anti-Americanism" for criticizing U.S. foreign policy and by the supporters of Israel with "anti-Semitism" for criticizing Israel.

Honestly people, does anyone believe that El-Kikhia has changed the content of the courses he teaches simply because he believes the "extreme right" doesn't approve? Sorry, but I don't buy it for a second. The results of this jihad against free speech; nothing:
An independent university committee set up to investigate the charges against the four professors exonerated three of them of wrongdoing and found no evidence of any of the charges leveled against them. The committee found the fourth guilty of one instance of "inappropriate conduct." He is disputing the report. The committee also accused the small but vocal supporters of Israel with lack of civility and disruption of classes.

The reality of course is far different (as any of El-Kikhia's former students like me can attest) as Tom Friedman recently said:
In the West [the absence of democracy in the Middle East] was avoided because a toxic political correctness infected the academic field of Middle Eastern studies - to such a degree that anyone focusing on the absence of freedom in the Arab world ran the risk of being labeled an "Orientalist" or an "essentialist."

Well, more info has come to light about this horrible situation in academia since my original post, and El-Kikhia was right, there is repression of certain ideas in the hallowed halls of our universities, but it is directed at those scholars foolish enough to support Israel and it is happening right now in Britain where hatred of Israel has been intitutionalized. Can the American university system be far behind? Via The Guardian:
The Association of University Teachers today voted to boycott two Israeli universities over their failure to speak out against their government.

Delegates at a conference in Eastbourne voted, against the wishes of the executive, for an immediate boycott of Haifa University, which they accuse of restricting the academic freedom of staff members who are critical of the government, and of Bar Ilans University, which has a college in the disputed settlement Ariel.

The boycott, which is now official union policy, will follow a plan prescribed by a group of 60 Palestinian academic and cultural bodies and non-governmental organisations, which calls for British academics to severe links with Israeli institutions but to exempt Israelis who speak out against their government's policies towards the Palestinians.

This sounds far more insidious than the consequence-free "repression" that has El-Kikhia so worked up. It is almost hard to believe that two Israeli universities are being boycotted for not speaking out against...wait for it...Israel! In approving the boycott the Association of University Teachers are doing the bidding of their Palestinian masters:
Council delegates also agreed to circulate to all local associations a statement from Palestinian organisations calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

Interestingly, the boycott isn't just against Israeli academics in general, but applies only to those who support their government:
There is yet another twist to this resuscitated campaign. For the boycott would not be extended to all Israeli academics -- only to those who refuse to denounce their government's policies in the occupied territories. The motion would generously exclude "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies"[emphasis mine].

This requirement to denounce Israel as the price of continued social acceptance is doubly disgusting. First, it is of course a monstrous inversion which turns Israel, the victim of unbroken annihilatory Arab terror for the past half century, into the regional bully while sanitising Palestinian aggression.

Second, it represents a profound betrayal of the cardinal principle of intellectual endeavour, which is freedom of speech and debate. If anyone had ever told British academics that there would come a time when they would punish colleagues because of the views they held, and would treat them as pariahs and try to destroy their livelihoods in order to intimidate others into toeing the sole approved political line, they would have been incredulous. In the western tradition the universities are, after all, the historic custodians of free intellectual inquiry and open debate. Censorship, suppression of ideas and intellectual intimidation are associated with totalitarian regimes which attempt to coerce people into the approved way of thinking.

Did you get that? If you aren't a supporter of the colonial and racist Israeli state then you are generously excluded from the boycott. How wonderful! I guess free speech doesn't apply to Israelis. And as this letter to the AUT from the University of Haifa shows, Arab professors are also being hurt by the boycott:
The University of Haifa is saddened and not a little outraged by the utterly unjust and unjustifiable decision of the AUT and by its attempt to erect barriers and obstruct the flow of ideas within the international academic community.

In lieu of evidence to support the singling out of Israeli academia, the authors of this campaign have chosen to adopt a three-year old urban legend. We are astounded by the fact that the AUT never requested our response prior to adopting their resolution, and did not allow our position to be presented by members of the AUT who are familiar with the facts. The case against Israeli academia, in general, and the University of Haifa in particular, is devoid of empirical evidence and violates the principle of due process. Driven by a prior and prejudicial assumption of guilt, the AUT has refused to confuse itself with facts.

The silence of the American Association of University Professors in deafening. According to their academic freedom "Alert" page this boycott never happened. In fact, the AAUP and their British couterparts in the AUT have a "Reciprocating Agreement" regarding teaching privileges. Want more proof that the AAUP is sitting on it's hands? The Scholars at Risk Network recently held a conference to discuss the protection of academic freedom, and you will note no mention of the boycott against Israel is made:
Scholars at Risk held its network meeting and conference themed "Global Strategies for Defending Academic Freedom" on April 28-29th at New York University. More than 80 faculty, administrators, human rights advocates, higher education experts and other guests participated in the two-day event, including scholars from Belarus, Iran, Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Ukraine, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

So what does all of this have to do with the San Antonio Express-News? Well, first and foremost, if the SAEN editorial board wants to let Dr. El-Kikhia use his weekly column as a soap box to whine about his personal life they can, but they should insist that he get his facts straight. Secondly, I bet most of you never heard about the AUT boycott before today, and it seems to me that the SAEN could have put a few sentences in somewhere to report that this boycott against free speech was occurring. And finally, very soon SAEN Watch will be growing into something bigger and better. Our new blog will cover everything from politics to the culture wars to topics like this, academic freedom and the move to muzzle support for Israel. You can expect a formal announcement soon, but don't you worry, pointing out the liberal bias of the Express-News will still be a big part of what we do.

"The time has come for someone to put their foot down on liberalism. That foot is us." --Alamo City Commando(not really)

Update

As Gregg's comment points out the AAUP issued a statement calling for a repeal of the boycott. In fairness to me the statement went out on May 3rd, over 3 weeks after I started this commentary. That said, in my mind it changes nothing. So they issued a statement...wow. That is what they call "passive" action. They have not severed links with the AUT until the boycott is repealed. Moreover, the statement makes it clear that the repression that El-Kikhia talks about won't be tolerated by the AAUP:
Excluded from the ban are "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies," an exclusion which, because it requires compliance with a political or ideological test in order for an academic relationship to continue, deepens the injury to academic freedom rather than mitigates it.

My amazement that something like this can even become reality, and the subject matter it references still holds. The recent conference held by the Scholars at Risk Network that I reference above makes no mention of the boycott. The boycott was approved almost a week before the Risk Network's conference, and they ignored it. So the AAUP issues a statement and that is it; they washed their hands of the entire incident after issuing their statement. That said, my thanks to Gregg for pointing out the existence of the statement.

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