Home / General / Cary Nelson: Embarrassment

Cary Nelson: Embarrassment


Cary Nelson continues to embarrass himself through his attacks on Stephen Salaita. One time AAUP head and supposed defender of academic free speech once again decides that free speech only counts if he agrees with the person. Otherwise, Nelson takes it upon himself to decide who an American Indian Studies program should hire and engages in intellectual gymnastics to explain why if Salaita was already at the University of Illinois, that would be fine but as a potential hire, he had to step in.

What a jerk.

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  • Woodrowfan

    and the comments on the piece are as bad as you’d expect the comments in the Jerusalem Post would be.

    • mikeSchilling

      Yeah, you know what those people are like.

      • JL

        …what, Likudniks? Rightist trolls?

        Or do you somehow think that negative comments about JPost commenters are meant to refer to Jews as a whole? Next up: Criticizing Fox News commenters is anti-American (or anti-white, perhaps), criticizing Telegraph or Daily Mail commenters is anti-British.

        • mikeSchilling

          People you disagree with.

      • sharculese

        Oh cool, so your’e still doing that thing where no opportunity to insinuate that we’re all anti-Semites for disagreeing with you is beneath your dignity.

        This must a proud day for your family.

      • Origami Isopod

        As an Ashkenazi-American I’d like to offer you a nice tall glass of shut the fuck up.

        • Why are you a self-hating Jew?

          • Origami Isopod

            Mom? What are you doing on LGM?

      • ChrisTS

        Christ, what an asshole.

  • Murc

    engages in intellectual gymnastics to explain why if Salaita was already at the University of Illinois, that would be fine but as a potential hire, he had to step in.

    This taking this tack, that Salaita was never hired, should always immediately and aggressively be asked what they think of the policy of the University of Illinois and, indeed, many other major American universities to ask their Professors to uproot their lives and professional careers in order to do contingent work for them that, in fact, is probably illegal, as if Salaita wasn’t hired that means University of Illinois was asking him to work without any kind of properly signed employment contract at all.

    They should be asked that relentlessly, at every opportunity. Because if Salaita was indeed “a potential hire” then that’s what happened to him and many others. And if he wasn’t, well, that means he gets full tenure protections, doesn’t he?

    • DiTurno

      Yeah, Nelson’s piece is clearly written in bad faith. I’ve never met anyone who sees an offer from a dean as “conditional.” And the fact that he begins with an utterly bogus piece of victim blaming — why did he resign his position before the B of T approved it — shows what a squirrel he really is.

      • I’m pretty far from an expert on how academic hiring works, but it’s my understanding that the board of trustees meeting at which his hiring would be voted on wasn’t even scheduled to take place until a couple months after he would already be teaching classes at the University of Illinois. And that this isn’t at all out of the ordinary. Nelson seems to be implying that Salaita acted recklessly in resigning his prior job before the before the new one was official and that this isn’t typical. But if academic jobs often aren’t actually officially granted until after the person being hired has already been working at that job for months, I don’t see how it could be considered normal to wait until the board of trustees has approved the new job before resigning the old one.

        • ChrisTS

          This is all exactly right. If Nelson’s new rules re. hiring were widely accepted, the entire TT hiring game would go into free fall. No one would accept a position without a Board=approved contract, and Boards would have to actually meet in time to formalize every hire.

          • J. Otto Pohl

            I would advise that nobody thinking about taking a position at UI resign their current job until after the Board of Trustees approves it, no matter how long that takes. If incoming faculty take such a position it would undoubtedly cause a lot of disruption to UI. But, they brought it on themselves by playing this game.

            • Barry_D

              There was a mention somewhere that a department there canceled a search for a senior position because almost nobody applied.

              There are several things happening, IMHO:

              1) Nobody can count in a UI offer until *after* the Board has met, and has officially approved it, and has sent notarized, certified, official papers to the candidate, *and* the candidate has had them vetted by his/her lawyer.

              2) I’ve heard that most universities have rules that forbid a tenured professor from having a tenured position at another university. This means that if the UI position is upheld, professors who didn’t resign ‘before starting’ would still have put their job in jeopardy.

              3) The Board of Trustees is trying to f*ck a senior professor, hard, for purely political reasons, to an extent which is unusual and shocking in the profession. If I were a senior professor, I’d rather not deal with serious a-holes like that – not only on my behalf, but when hiring junior faculty.

              4) Internet sh*tstorms are far too easy to whip up. Even if I were a very noncontroversial[1] professor doing noncontroversial[1] work, this could change in the twinkling of an a-hole’s, well, a-hole.

              [1] Which is really impossible from the viewpoint of the right, if I were dealing with facts.

        • matt w

          In fact, Nelson states outright that Salaita acted recklessly in resigning his prior job before the new one was official and that this isn’t typical:

          Wise faculty members do not resign their current job until the contract is signed by the Board. For whatever reason, Salaita did not follow that standard advice.

          What a pathetic bad faith piece of shit.

          (Speaking of pathetic pieces of shit, albeit ones who have been very good on this particular issue, did anyone see the latest thing that Brian Leiter has pooped out?)

          • dl

            Typically what people do is take a one-year leave of absence from the job they are leaving. Usually, it’s just in case they hate the new job, but it IS something that is typically done.

            • matt w

              It may depend on the situation that they’re leaving. When I left one (untenured but) tenure-track position for another there was not any discussion of me taking a leave of absence instead of resigning. I don’t remember whether I’d signed a contract by the time I’d resigned but that’s kind of the point, it was so unremarkable that it’s not something I would remember. And it would have been really obnoxious to my former department if I hadn’t resigned immediately, because they wouldn’t have been able to begin work on hiring my replacement.

              It’s also possible that Virginia Tech would’ve been less likely to make customary-but-not-mandatory accommodations for Salaita, having already displayed pretty egregious cowardice about him–he had written a fairly unexceptionable column about how “support the troops” was an obnoxious phrase and VTech issued a statement which was mostly about how much they disagreed with him before mentioning that his expression was protected.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    We’re at a very dangerous and confusing point when “pro-Israel” can only mean “pro-settlements” and when Israel is defended as a bastion of enlightened humanistic values like democracy, free speech and pluralism in a Godforsaken Middle East while it is pursuing a policy that violates most major international norms. I don’t know how you crawl back off that limb.

  • JL

    That was sort of amazing in that he didn’t even pretend that his primary issue was anything but Salaita’s views and comments on Israel and the Israel/Palestine issue.

    • He already won so why bother pretending?

    • Ken

      I thought it was about ethics in gaming journalism?

      • ChrisTS


  • Gregor Sansa

    What’s the end game for Salaita himself? I presume he’s pursuing legal action, but how is that going, and how is he living meanwhile?

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