June 10, 2006

British Professors Seek to Cut Ties to Israeli Scholars

By a vote of 106-71, one of Britain’s two faculty unions on Monday adopted a policy under which its members are urged to avoid contact with Israeli universities or professors unless they demonstrate their opposition to various policies of the Israeli government with regard to Palestinians.

I have a proposal for all British and American faculty who care about global justice:

Please boycott me.

While you are at it, boycott all other American professors. Do not invite us to conferences. Do not publish our work. Do not read our blogs (after this post, of course). We have a lot to answer for.

I am an American academic who has not done enough to prevent my government from launching an illegal and counterproductive invasion of a sovereign country. On my watch, my country has also imprisoned thousands of innocent people without charge and without instigating a process for demonstrating their harmlessness. It has engaged in massive surveillance of communication both overseas and domestic without regard for domestic laws or the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Many of my fellow American academics have failed to prevent our government from doing these and many other bad things. So we deserve to be punished. Clearly, we are craven collaborators.

If only we understood the massive power that we have as professors. We can twist and mold an entire generation of voters to parrot everything we believe. We can manipulate the tenor of public deliberation through our bold voices and electric prose. And with all of the media outlets and voting machines that we control, it's a shame that we can't ensure that our government reflects our views. I don't know what we have been doing with our time. But we really should have been executing our will better.

One thing we can be sure of is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lose sleep every night wondering what the professoriat thinks of them. We just have not taken advantage of our awesome power.

What's worse, it turns out that not every professor in America has expertise or influence in matters of global politics. Some are engineers, mathematicians, poets, or psychologists. Others -- get this -- actually support the current administration and its current policies. I know, it's hard to believe. But it's true. There are thousands of Republican and conservative professors in America -- all the more reason to boycott us all! We have not purged our ranks sufficiently!

So to make sure that the United States changes its ways, we must not talk to each other any more. We must avoid all contact. We should not exchange information or opinions. If we continue to do research, we should keep it to ourselves until everything around here gets better. From now on, when I enter or leave my office I will do so with my eyes averted so that I do not have to engage any American academics in casual coversation.

I expect the rest of global academia to respect our self-boycott. Please do not post comments to this call for a boycott. Please do not write e-mail to me. Please do not invite me or any other American to a conference. Please do not read my work. We are not worthy.

I'll let y'all know when the boycott is over. Wait. No. I can't. You won't be reading me.

Uh. Ok. The boycott should end when the United States operates purely as a force for justice in the world. You will know when that happens.

When it does, let's talk. Later.

Posted by Siva


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