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Cornel West joins boycott of Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign over Salaita firing

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The following press release was sent out yesterday by the The Center for Constitutional Rights:

Esteemed professor and intellectual Dr. Cornel West has cancelled a high-profile lecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in support of a boycott of the university over the firing of Professor Steven Salaita. The university fired Salaita, a Palestinian-American professor of Native American Studies, from a tenured faculty position because of his tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s bombing of Gaza last year. West was scheduled to deliver the 2015 Thulin Lecture next month at the university on “The Profound Desire for Justice” in the historic Lincoln Hall.

“My change of mind in regard to my cancellation of my lecture constitutes a line in the sand I could not cross,” said West. “The case of my dear brother Professor Steven Salaita is a moral scandal of great proportion and the suffering of precious Palestinians under a vicious Israeli occupation is a crime against humanity, even in a world in which ugly anti-Jewish hatred escalates.”

Since Salaita’s firing, more than 5,000 academics from around the country have pledged to boycott the university, resulting in the cancellation of more than three dozen scheduled talks and conferences at the school. Sixteen academic departments of the university have voted no confidence in the university administration, and prominent academic organizations, including the American Association of University Professors, the Modern Language Association, and the Society of American Law Teachers have publicly condemned the University’s actions.

Earlier this year, Salaita filed a lawsuit against the university and its officials, including the Chancellor and university trustees, alleging that their decision to fire him over his tweets violated his constitutional rights to free speech and due process of law, and breached his employment contract. The suit also targets university donors who, based on emails made public, threatened to withhold their contributions to the university if it did not fire Salaita on account of his political speech. Salaita is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firm of Loevy & Loevy.

For more information on the civil rights lawsuit Salaita v. Kennedy, et al, see CCR’s page: http://www.ccrjustice.org/Salaita

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7 Responses

  1. Taxi on March 5, 2015, 1:07 pm

    Cornell is cool. Too cool for president in 2024?

  2. JLewisDickerson on March 5, 2015, 1:55 pm

    RE: “The case of my dear brother Professor Steven Salaita is a moral scandal of great proportion . . .” ~ Dr. Cornel West

    MY COMMENT: Cornel West is one of the most influential intellectuals in our country at this time.

    FROM SupportStevenSalaita.com:

    SUPPORT STEVEN’S CASE!

    Many have asked how to directly help Steven and his family, who were left unemployed and without a home following the unjust firing by the University of Illinois. There is now a website dedicated to this effort, which you can reach by clicking here: http://fundly.com/support-steven-salaita

    Funds will be used for legal and other support as Steven prepares for the long haul in his battle for justice and academic freedom. Thank you!

    SOURCE – http://supportstevensalaita.com/

  3. Pixel on March 5, 2015, 9:59 pm

    Cornell West is a giant.

    Thanks, too, to JLD. I’ve made several small contributions. Every little bit helps.

    • Pixel on March 5, 2015, 10:20 pm

      It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening…you’re talking about raising political consciousness so it spills over all parts of the country, so people can begin to see what’s going on through a set of different lens, and then you begin to highlight what the more detailed demands would be. Because in the end we’re really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution: A transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colors. And that is a step by step process.

      “Cornel West on Occupy Wall Street: It’s the Makings of a U.S. Autumn Responding to the Arab Spring”. Democracy Now. September 29, 2011.
      ———-
      He sees it. He feels it. He gets it.
      This IS a revolution, one in which MW plays an important role.

      American Revolution 2.0.

      • seafoid on March 5, 2015, 10:38 pm

        Zionism is so tied up with the failing economic system.

  4. RoHa on March 7, 2015, 5:14 am

    “even in a world in which ugly anti-Jewish hatred escalates.”

    Isn’t it depressing that he feels he has to toss this line in. Even more depressing if he actually believes it.

    • Philemon on March 9, 2015, 10:32 pm

      Roha, “antisemitism” as a term is apparently passé; it just didn’t have that kick anymore. What “anti-Jewish hatred” means is up to you.

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