Shall We Toady? DePaul’s Junior Faculty and the Dershowitz Factor
One can’t help but think that DePaul’s untenured faculty are freaking out these days. After all, what is a poor assistant professor to think after seeing an internationally acclaimed scholar like Norman Finkelstein, who has five books to his credit, taken out by DePaul’s administration after — and one must really chortle when reading this sentence — “The U[niversity] B[oard] [on] P[romotion] [and] T[enure] [has] determined that [Finkelstein’s] scholarship does not meet DePaul’s tenure standards”—a clear indication that AIPAC’s main academic howler, Alan Dershowitz, made sufficient noise about “Finkelstein’s one-sided agitprop” to scare the living daylights out of every Vincentian in Chicago.
Most assistant professors are lucky to have one book accompanying their dossiers when they go up for tenure. Finkelstein put five books, which have been translated into forty-six different languages, more than the entire faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences at DePaul combined, on the table last year when he began the tenure and promotion process. It would be interesting to check up on how many of DePaul’s St. Vincent DePaul Professors can brag of such an enviable publication record. Let’s not forget that Finkelstein publishes serious books, which have provoked international discussions about the Israel-Palestine conflict and the misuse of the Holocaust, not the usual academic snoozers — written to help make a tenure case for some third-rate intellectual who needs an academic sinecure — that go out of a print a year or two after they are published.
As Robert Jensen argued in his “Exposing the Commonplace Cowardice of ‘Responsible’ Professors”, Finkelstein may have taken his intellectual responsibility too seriously, or at least too seriously for most middle-brow intellectuals working at universities such as Depaul, where staying out of the way and towing the line of the powerful is considered to be indicative of “prudent judgment” and “responsible behavior.”
So, as junior faculty at DePaul contemplate their future at the largest Catholic University in the United States, and wonder if they are making sufficient progress toward tenure at this institution where “Vincentian personalism” is taken so seriously, they should consider giving good old Al Dershowitz a call or dropping the Felix Frankfurter of Law at Harvard an email, asking “Am I doing a sufficient job worshipping the Holy State and its patron? Is there more I can do to silence all discussion of U.S. and Israeli war crimes against Palestinians on this campus?”
I’m sure Al would be delighted to hear/see that he can give any junior faculty member at DePaul, who asks for a quick run down on his or her tenure prospects, an honest and full assessment. I can hear the conversations now — “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up. Just keep arguing that Palestinians have never existed and that Israel does not violate the rights of any human being,” or “You need to demonstrate more taste in your selection of topics for scholarly publication. No one really cares if the World Jewish Congress and the World Restitution Organization conducted a ‘double shakedown’ against the Swiss, the Germans, and the Poles in the late nineties in the name of needy Holocaust survivors. That’s in the past, along with everything the IDF had done in Jenin, Ramallah, and Hebron for the last five years.”
As these wannabe tenured professors will soon learn, it’s not solid teaching, scholarship, or service that will secure them a permanent place at the university founded by the Vincentian order in the USA in 1898, but a commitment to playing the game of the perpetual academic toady. Soon DePaul’s untenured faculty will learn that “huckster” is spelled “huxter”.
Shall we toady? Really.