Monday, September 03, 2007

Paper: Finkelstein was threatening

Speaking of Norman Finkelstein (see previous post), someone other than the Drunkablog and Dissident Voice (what a team!) has finally mentioned his physical confrontation with a DePaul administrator after he was denied tenure as the reason his "terminal year" classes were cancelled.

In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, Finkelstein had several encounters with DePaul administrators, and cops were called:
Oral and physical confrontations between Finkelstein and university officials began shortly after his tenure denial, according to a memo written by university Provost Helmut Epp.

The provost's memo, dated June 26, alleges that Finkelstein "angrily confronted" other faculty and staff and engaged them with "threatening and discourteous behavior" after being denied tenure.

On three such occasions, campus security officers were called to intervene, according to the provost's memo. When a dean [Chuck Suchar, of course] tried to escape a confrontation by ducking into an elevator, Finkelstein physically tried to keep the door from closing, according to the provost's account.
Speaking of diehard Finkelstein supporter Professor Peter "Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming" Kirstein, I asked him about this days ago at Pirate Ballerina, which he reads. Shockingly, he never responded. The Trib continues:
Denise Mattson, associate vice president for public relations, said Sunday that the university couldn't comment on the memos obtained by the Tribune. She said the university considers the memos personal documents. She added: "The reason for [Finkelstein's] administrative leave was not related to the tenure decision but rather to unacceptable behavior exhibited on campus in June." . . .

Finkelstein denied picking or perpetuating a fight with the university, saying he continues to hope for negotiations to resolve the issue under conditions acceptable to both sides. But, he added, he intends to leave with his head held high, his reputation intact.
And, apparently, without filing a lawsuit.
He cited the example of a folk-singer, actor and civil rights crusader long celebrated on the political left.
Oh, thank you, Normie. I was looking for an excuse:
"One of my heroes is Paul Robeson, who said, 'I will not retreat one-thousandth part of one inch,'" Finkelstein said. "And I won't either."
Fine, fine.

Update: John K. Wilson at the College Freedom Blog calls it a "hit piece":
The only specific example of Finkelstein's "physically" "threatening" behavior is this: he held open the elevator doors while talking to a dean. Ohmigod! Norman Finkelstein physically assaulted an elevator door! How much longer can this violent, violent man be tolerated?
That's convincing. Peter Kirstein comments:
I agree with your interpretation. Of course, since I am an avowed pacifist, if he did threaten an individual or cause them to be physically afraid, I would be gravely concerned, but clearly there was no physical contact. Yet Mr Grossman, a rather conservative writer, failed to address directly some of the questions you raised. I concur the claim of diminishing faculty support is unsubstaniated and yes DePaul is clearly leaking internal documentation.
The contortions!

Update II: Marathon Pundit has more.

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