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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Hamas Issue and the Spiral of Silence

Recent posts have discussed the Hamas terror attack on Israel

Emma Pettit at The Chronicle of Higher Education:
In the aftermath of Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel and the country’s subsequent siege on Gaza, the University of Texas at Arlington’s political-science department did what political-science departments often do: It held a Q&A with a scholarly expert.

The idea, said Morgan Marietta, the department chair at the time, was for students to pose their questions to Brent E. Sasley, who studies Middle East politics, and learn from him about the conflict. But the event, held on October 18, was not a calm, scholastic exchange. It was tense. There was some interrupting, shouting, and, according to Marietta, some cursing. At least one student was peacefully escorted out of the room by a police officer.

Days later, Marietta’s dean expressed “concerns” about his performance as department chair and said she might consider removing him from the position if he didn’t accede to a few “preliminary requests,” according to a memo, which Marietta shared with The Chronicle. Those requests included that department events not be scheduled without prior approval, and that he submit a written plan for managing any event seven work days in advance, including “a copy of comments you plan to give by way of introduction.”
This was unthinkable to Marietta, who then resigned as chair. “These policies,” he wrote in his resignation letter, “are transparent attempts to halt public talks by political science faculty, curtail the academic freedom of scholars, and quash discussion if it might lead to criticism.” (The Shorthorn, the student newspaper, first reported Marietta’s resignation. He’s still on the faculty.)