Saturday, November 19, 2016
Oberlin fires black professor over anti-Semitism
Oberlin College has dismissed Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, following an investigation into anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements she made on social media - including her assertion that ISIS is really an arm of Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies and that Israel was behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. The college initially affirmed Karega’s right to academic freedom when her inflammatory statements surfaced earlier in 2016, but placed her on leave in August, pending an investigation into her conduct. Beyond concerns about anti-Semitism, which fit into larger complaints about escalating anti-Jewish rhetoric on campus, Karega’s case has raised questions about whether academic freedom covers statements that have no basis in fact. Oberlin’s Board of Trustees ultimately voted to dismiss Karega for “failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty and failing to demonstrate intellectual honesty,” the college said in a statement. The vote followed “extensive consideration and a comprehensive review of recommendations from multiple faculty committees,” and from President Marvin Krislov. Karega’s dismissal is effective immediately. Karega said that she intends to "challenge the college's decision and assault on my substantive rights through all the avenues I have available to me." She said that her Facebook posts were taken out of their original contexts and "grossly misrepresented" for political purposes. "Since the publication of the posts, I have been inundated with hundreds of hatemail filled with slurs (racial, misogynist, classist), harassment and threats," she said. "To add insult to injury, for the last eight months, Oberlin has campaigned to implicate my professional fitness using arbitrary, inequitable and discriminatory practices. Indeed, the college launched an assault on my substantive rights."