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‘NYT’ free speech advocate Bari Weiss reportedly helped bring down a Columbia dean over ‘intellectual heresy’

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In recent months Bari Weiss, an op-ed editor at the New York Times, has cast herself as an advocate of free speech, disparaging the left for its failure to offer a platform to dissenting voices. “We’re all fascists now,” she wrote in a new column, and said that “social justice warriors” are taking over campuses. She’s taken these positions even as she and other Israel advocates stage one slanted panel after another in Jewish spaces, excluding non-Zionist views.

Today comes a sharp rejoinder. On twitter, a poster named “Sam” who identifies himself as the son of Lisa Anderson, the former dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), issued a series of tweets calling out Weiss’s role in helping to bring about Anderson’s resignation from her job in 2008.

Lisa Anderson is a Middle East scholar of considerable standing. For twelve years she was dean of SIPA. She left the deanship not long after she had invited former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia in September 2007— an invitation that brought great political pressure on the school.

At the time, Columbia said Anderson had made her decision to resign before the controversial invitation. Anderson went on to serve as president of the American University in Cairo.

Writes Sam (@youcanreachsam):

When my mother soon after stepped down as Dean, I don’t know if it was ever acknowledged that the neocon/Zionist rabble rousing spearheaded by Weiss was a factor, and frankly, it’s not my place to speculate! It’s enough to know that it was the result Bari Weiss craved and one she worked hard to achieve

Here is Bari Weiss writing in the Columbia Spectator at the time, urging students to hold Lisa Anderson “accountable” for the Ahmadinejad invitation:

Shame on her, and shame on an administration that would have him speak were it not for “security reasons.” Columbians-students, faculty, administration, and staff-if you are serious about standing up against hate, you will hold Dean Anderson accountable for offering Ahmadinejad a podium.

Weiss had graduated from Columbia in 2007 but identified herself as a Columbia “stakeholder” in attacking Anderson.

I’ve reached out to Sam (@youcanreachSam) and to Dean Anderson seeking to confirm their relationship. Certainly the story Sam relates about Weiss is utterly consistent with other reports of Weiss’s career as a Zionist activist and by Weiss’s enthusiastic performance today as an Israel promoter.

Here are the tweets of Sam, combined into one narrative:

“Gather round, folks, for a personal story about the breathtaking hypocrisy of . First, you need to know a bit about my mother.

“Dr. Lisa Anderson is one of the world’s most eminent scholars specializing in the political science of the Middle East/North Africa. She has written foundational texts on the subject and informally advised multiple Presidential administrations, in addition to serving on the board of organizations that advance human rights around the world. She is also a genuine trailblazer—the first woman to serve as Dean of a grad school at Columbia (and maybe even the entire Ivy League? Idk), the first female Pres of the Middle East Studies Assoc. of North America, first female President of a university in the Middle East (and not just any—AUC [American University of Cairo], the region’s best, one which she shepherded through a literal revolution at her literal doorstep). You get the idea.

“In 2006, Dr. Anderson invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia. Not some discredited crank from the right wing “intellectual” septic tank, not some insignificant race-baiting internet troll, Ahmadinejad was one of the most geopolitically consequential world leaders at the time, post-Iraq invasion, Axis of Evil, etc. It should go without saying that he was awful, a petty tyrant with toxic views that aren’t worth defending, but that was NOT the point. Most people understood the invitation wasn’t an endorsement of him. It was a golden opportunity for students to hear from—-and confront—someone incredibly important/powerful, someone with the potential to alter the course of world history. Now, believe it or not, Bari Weiss didn’t agree.

“Weiss had already long accused her of fostering anti-Semitism, kicking off a witch hunt, demanding an inquest into whether CU faculty were insufficiently pro-Israel and then criticizing the committee formed to investigate the matter as being… insufficiently pro-Israel. So of course she jumped all over the Ahmadinejad invite, writing of Dr. Anderson “shame on her” and that she should be “held accountable.” Setting aside the moral bankruptcy of advocating for a State which slaughters hundreds of innocent subjects of its own cruel military occupation so routinely that their army calls it “mowing the lawn,” it’s so rich that Bari Weiss was on the forefront of the practice of shutting down campus speech she disagreed with and collecting scalps because of some intellectual heresy.

“When my mother soon after stepped down as Dean, I don’t know if it was ever acknowledged that the neocon/Zionist rabble rousing spearheaded by Weiss was a factor, and frankly, it’s not my place to speculate! It’s enough to know that it was the result Bari Weiss craved and one she worked hard to achieve. Now, of course, she accuses people who criticize her hamfisted tweets of forming a lynch mob. She cites actual fake news in her op eds that say college students “believe that free speech is acceptable only when it doesn’t offend them. Which is to say, they don’t believe in it at all.”

“Is this a tacit admission also doesn’t actually believe in free speech that offends her? Or just an example of someone who manages not only to be on both sides of the same issue, but wrong in both cases? The truth is, that Weiss is an intellectual fraud who is choking in public on the taste of her own medicine. Karma’s a birch, Bari, and so are you.”

Since that thread, Sam has followed up with such excellent responses as:

It’s morally bankrupt to try to purge an academic institution of critics of Israel, which is eminently deserving of criticism. Contra Weiss et al, Israel not is above reproach. The U.S. and other Arab states are never afforded that protected status nor should they be.

P.S. Update. Weiss has denied that she sought anyone’s firing. Here is Adalah posting the record of Weiss’s opposition to tenure for Nadia Abu el-Haj and Joseph Massad, based on their views.

She also protested Norman Finkelstein’s appearance at Columbia. He also lost academic appointments because of pro-Israel pressure.

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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25 Responses

  1. eljay
    March 8, 2018, 3:03 pm

    … Since that thread, Sam has followed up with such excellent responses as:

    It’s morally bankrupt to try to purge an academic institution of critics of Israel, which is eminently deserving of criticism. Contra Weiss et al, Israel not is above reproach. The U.S. and other Arab states are never afforded that protected status nor should they be.

    The “Jewish State” is “singled out” for special treatment…and Zionists aren’t outraged. Go figure.

    • Emory Riddle
      March 9, 2018, 8:46 am

      Free speech for me but not for thee.

      • festus
        March 9, 2018, 2:25 pm

        This people are so from from being emotionally healthy and mature, I am not even sure of they realize how completely dishonest and hypocritical they are.

  2. MHughes976
    March 8, 2018, 3:53 pm

    Perhaps Professor Anderson could be persuaded to write something for Mondoweiss.

    • LHunter
      March 8, 2018, 9:22 pm

      And the NYT have her on their payroll. A newspaper that prides itself on providing impartial coverage (see their Standards and Ethics policy) hires a zio activist who has a long well documented history of bullying/vilifying professors and shutting down debate – the paper is a joke – and the world is waking up to that.

      Great article by Greenwald

  3. Annie Robbins
    March 8, 2018, 5:08 pm

    there’s been a real shit storm over bari weiss’s last nyt article on twitter over the last 24 hours. i think people generally (and correctly) get the notion she’s mcCarthyist rt wing neocon hypocrite. and a balled faced liar.

  4. Keith
    March 8, 2018, 8:06 pm

    PHIL- (SAM quote)- ” It should go without saying that he was awful, a petty tyrant with toxic views that aren’t worth defending….”

    No it doesn’t. In view of the imperial propaganda system, he should be given the opportunity to speak for himself. Why the need to pander to the system?

    • RoHa
      March 8, 2018, 8:26 pm

      I stumbled over that, as well. Aside from the question of what the toxic views were, I’m a bit puzzled about how he could be both a mere petty tyrant and yet also one of the most consequential world leaders, incredibly important, with the potential to alter history.

    • Brewer
      March 8, 2018, 9:06 pm

      Whatever one might think the fellow, “petty tyrant” is not a fit. He was an elected official, answerable to the Majlis (Parliament) with few, if any, executive powers. Close reading of his actual words revealed perfectly reasonable argument. The distortions of them in the MSM were an altogether different story.
      Kudos to professor Anderson for inviting him. The reaction in the press and among neo-cons such as Weiss was disgusting.

      • Yonah Fredman
        March 9, 2018, 1:03 am

        How Columbia University should deal with a f***face like that guy, I don’t know, but his holocaust denial statements were slime and scummy and would fit right in here in the mw comments.

      • eljay
        March 9, 2018, 8:28 am

        || Yonah Fredman: How Columbia University should deal with a f***face like that guy, I don’t know, but his holocaust denial statements were slime and scummy and would fit right in here in the mw comments. ||

        Yup, he would fit right with the Zionist f***faces here at MW.

      • Emory Riddle
        March 9, 2018, 8:47 am

        How Columbia University should deal with a f***face like that guy, I don’t know, but his holocaust denial statements were slime and scummy and would fit right in here in the mw comments.

        Wow. You guys can work the Holocaust into every discussion.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 9, 2018, 9:54 am

        Phil was indeed too conformist there. Ahmadinejad is very conservative . That means he has a lot of ideas we find objectionable, but sometimes it means something else than we think it does, the conservatives in Iran are better in offering social provisions for the poor.

        We’re horrible at lumping positive and negative things together. It always ends up in the way which minimizes cognitive dissonance.
        Trump being innocent in Russiagate. Racist white americans being more against war and intervention than liberals. North Korea having legitimate national interests. Progressives who favor Israel. Intelligent people doing stupid things. Liberal zionists.

        Holocaust denial in the case of Ahmadinejad is intended as an insult and as a way to gain popularity in the Sunni world, and they again will deny the holocaust out of spite. It’s like namecalling. I find all the huffing and puffing about Holocaust denial in general hypocritical and dishonest. Warmongers thrive on it. There’s no reason to call Ahmadinejad a warmonger.

      • Brewer
        March 9, 2018, 11:17 am

        Mr. Ahmadinejad did not say what the US Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy reported that he said: “They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets.” He actually said, “In the name of the Holocaust they have created a myth and regard it to be worthier than God, religion and the prophets.” This language targets the myth of the Holocaust, not the Holocaust itself – i.e., “myth” as “mystique”, or what has been done with the Holocaust. Other writers, including important Jewish theologians, have criticized the “cult” or “ghost” of the Holocaust without denying that it happened. In any case, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main message has been that, if the Holocaust happened as Europe says it did, then Europe, and not the Muslim world, is responsible for it.

        Why is Mr. Ahmadinejad being so systematically misquoted and demonized? Need we ask? If the world believes that Iran is preparing to attack Israel, then the US or Israel can claim justification in attacking Iran first. On that agenda, the disinformation campaign about Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements has been bonded at the hip to a second set of lies: promoting Iran’s (nonexistent) nuclear weapon programme.

        – Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005).
        http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_2051_2100/putting%20words%20in%20ahmadinejad's%20mouthhtml.htm

      • Donald Johnson
        March 10, 2018, 11:59 am

        Tuyzentfloot—

        “We’re horrible at lumping positive and negative things together. It always ends up in the way which minimizes cognitive dissonance.”

        That was a brilliant comment and I mean the whole thing, not just the part I copied. That is exactly what we all do to varying degrees, but the mainstream political culture is the worst, because the oversimplification that appears in the msm becomes the conventional wisdom and it always favors, by some odd coincidence, some policy our ruling elites want to push.

  5. Misterioso
    March 9, 2018, 10:42 am

    For the record:

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during an interview with ABC Television in Tehran on 22 April 2009: “Whatever decision they [the Palestinians] take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that…. We think that this is the right of the Palestinian people, however, we fully expect other states to do so as well…” (Canada’s Globe and Mail, 27 April 2009)

    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/26/headlines/ahmadinejad_says_israel_map_remark_refers_to_occupation
    Democracy Now! September 26, 2012
    “Ahmadinejad Says Israel ‘Map’ Remark Refers to ‘Occupation'”

    “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is among the world leaders set to address the General Assembly today. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan ahead of his speech, Ahmadinejad was asked about the oft-reported claim that he has called for ‘wiping Israel off the map.’

    “Piers Morgan: ‘Should Israel be wiped off the face of the map? Is that your desire?’
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: ‘When we say ‘to be wiped,’ we say for occupation to be wiped off from this world, for war seeking to be wiped off and eradicated, the killing of women and children to be eradicated. And we propose the way. We propose the path. The path is to recognize the right of the Palestinians to self-governance.'”

    • LHunter
      March 9, 2018, 12:57 pm

      Sounds sane and in line with how a political leader should speak unlike the zio nutters in Israel.

  6. James Canning
    March 9, 2018, 7:19 pm

    Columbia U. was quite right to invite Ahmadinejad to speak on campus. And what complete cr*p that some rich Jews objected, and raised hell.

  7. Tuyzentfloot
    March 12, 2018, 9:09 am

    [posting indirectly because I have trouble submitting this]
    Donald,

    Thanks, it means the less I explain the better it’s understood :) So there we go…
    if with political culture you mean the media I agree. There are individual cognitive mechanisms, social/tribal and economical/power mechanisms enhancing the internal coherence of stories at the expense of fit with reality. Media are storytellers and a story has to be coherent and stereotypes make it easier. They are storytellers in an economical context and its business environment demands stories that sell well. Joris Luyendijk gave a very good example about banking, comparing the movies ‘Marching Call’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. The first one was about nerdy mathematicians , it had a good fit with reality but nobody saw it. The second one had a psychopathic villain and a weak match with reality and it got funded very well and sold very well. An example of journalistic writing with is the opposite, good fit but bad coherence is Seymour Hersh’s. Apart from his stories providing counternarrative – narrative which clashes with the dominant narrative, his stories are full of things which you have a hard time fitting together.
    With politics there is an additional factor that the politicians provide the stories and the media inherently trust the system , they distrust those who do not trust the system, and they have a relationship of trust with politicians. An example of that would be David Sanger. He has all the right ideas to make him the goto person for officials which makes him a good storywriter and the NYTimes promotes him to Chief Washington correspondent.
    When there are conflicts of interest between powerful players the system can still work, but when there are conflicts with external players with little clout the result is a disaster and stories are actually told and understood at the level of toddlers, with the good guys always worrying (always legitimate)and the bad guys being cunning(not legitimate).
    I found the debate between Greenwald and Risen particularly interesting because it was apparent that Risen has more trust in the system and he more readily allows it to direct his attention: he adopts the framing and the agenda setting even if he’s critical at the content level. Neither of them points out however that Greenwald sometimes has problems getting the point across because it’s simply less stereotypical. It’s easy to be clear when you are saying what the other person is already thinking.

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