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Professor in Pa. Denies the Holocaust

A question of academic freedom, or of basic competence?

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Contributing editor Mark Oppenheimer reminds us that now would be a good time to revisit the four-part series he wrote last year in Tablet Magazine about Holocaust denial, given that it has cropped up in the form of a professor at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, a historically black college not far from Wilmington, Delaware.

Kaukab Siddique, an associate professor of English and journalism, said at a rally last month, “I say to the Muslims, ‘Dear brothers and sisters, unite and rise up against this hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism.’” He has also cited the work of David Irving—the notorious denier, whom Nextbook Press author Deborah Lipstadt effectively proved distorted and lied about history to try to minimize the Holocaust—as well as various vicious Allied bombings during World War II to argue, “We can’t just sit back in judgment and say those guys were bad and we were the good guys. I always try to look at both sides… . That’s part of being a professor.”

The “part of being a professor” aspect has become the real issue, as Siddique has claimed the protection of academic freedom. Anti-Israel comments, even vicious ones that border on anti-Semitism (“hydra-headed”?), are one thing. But because Holocaust denial is not just maliciously false but objectively, empirically false, and in a way that reveals either breathtaking ignorance or a shocking willingness to allow an (in this case, disgusting) ideology to corrupt one’s understanding of the facts, it calls into question Siddique’s ability to be a good professor. “Were he an engineering professor speaking off campus, it wouldn’t matter,” says Cary Nelson, the president of the American Association of University Professors and a longstanding defender of professors taking unpopular positions. (It’s worth pointing out that I personally think it still would matter, but nevermind.) “The issue is whether his views call into question his professional competence. If he teaches modern literature, which includes Holocaust literature from a great many countries, then Holocaust denial could warrant a competency hearing.” Indeed it could!

Academic Freedom and Holocaust Denial [Inside Higher Ed]
Related: The Denial Twist [Tablet Magazine]
The Eichmann Trial [Nextbook Press]

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Carrie says:

I’m surprised this professor hasn’t been given a column at the Tablet yet.

Janet S. Katz says:

When Ike liberated the camps he warned us about people like the “professor from Pa.”!! Where did the U. Of Pa. find this guy?

Joel P. Smith says:

Ms Katz,

This guy is not from the U. of PA but “Lincoln University of Pennsylvania.” Please do not malign my alma mater.

How do radicals fall through the cracks and get to teach our youth?

Marooned says:

I agree with the question about “How do radicals fall through the cracks and get to teach our youth?” You ought to read some of the statements made at places like Hillsdale College…. oh…. but they are at the other end of spectrum and are not to be criticized

M. Brukhes says:

Cary Nelson’s comment about “an engineering professor speaking off campus” isn’t an idle example: one of the first Holocaust deniers in America–it became a feature of contemporary anti-Semitism as a conspiracy theory in France that attracted in equal measure extremists from the radical left (who thought Stalin was worse than Hitler) and the radical right (who agreed)–was (and remains) Arthur Butz, an engineering professor at Northwestern University. For whatever it’s worth, Butz has been apparently scrupulous about refraining from his anti-Semitic hobby in the classroom and there have never been complaints from his students about injecting Holocaust denial nonsense into his science courses. I suppose that if we really treat freedom of expression seriously, then an otherwise competent engineering professor should be as free to pursue anti-Semitic garbage in his off-time as another professor would be free to collect single-malt scotches or watch reality TV shows….

But as Professor Nelson makes clear, there’s a real difference between having an odd, odious hobby, and allowing demonstrably false and hateful ideas infiltrate the classroom. It seems this guy merits at least a formal inquiry, and if he really teaches the way he preaches, then Lincoln University is doing itself no favors by hanging on to him. And it may be noted that in this job market, there are plenty, plenty qualified, non-hatemongering academics out there who could take his place….

M. Brukhes,
I am a Holocaust survivor, but I agree with the statement that Stalin was worse than Hitler. He killed many more people, and caused much more ongoing havoc in the world. We are still suffering greatly from the so-called-Communist monster he and his cohorts unleashed on the world.

M. Brukhes says:

Mr. Farkas, I appreciate your perspective. For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s anyone here who’s shilling for Stalin. Given the choice between Hitler, Stalin, and Mao as worst dictator of the 20th century, I’d suggest picking “all of the above.”

This so-called professor needs to be fired. He lacks the education needed to teach the students at the university. If he wishes to spew forth his filthy beliefs, please encourage him to move to Iraq!

Les Miller says:

The battle between truth and the “Deniers” is the last active firefight of WWII. It is being fought as Hitler would have wanted it, as a “total war” engagement. This small band of blinded, hateful people are Nazi stooges, no different than a Romanian Black Shirt killer of Ukrainian pogromist, except that they are still with us and promise to never go away. Whether they speak within the context of Arab pan-nationalism or European liberation movements, they are bound to the Nazi cause and each other by their Jew hatred. Clearly, empirical evidence is not enough to silence these people. So we must continue to engage the “Deniers” untiringly: they will not go away in spite of what we say. But we must continue to say that these people are liars, frauds and dangerous. They must be countered aggressively and emphatically. We can hardly expect to ever see the day when the whole world will accept Jews and the Jewish experience with reason and respect.

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Professor in Pa. Denies the Holocaust

A question of academic freedom, or of basic competence?

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