The Humiliation of HamlineComments
There are many layers of stupid in this story, starting with the student who was repeatedly warned about the images and absolutely did not need to turn it into a mess, then leading to the student and activist organizations who absolutely did not need to affect solidarity on this most specious of pretexts, and ending with an administration that had absolutely no idea what to do with the situation and so necessarily defaulted to “faculty is the enemy so let’s hit them with a hammer.” This last layer of stupidity is by far the most damaging:
“When you say ‘trust Muslims on Islamophobia,’” Dr. Berkson asked, “what does one do when the Islamic community itself is divided on an issue? Because there are many Muslim scholars and experts and art historians who do not believe that this was Islamophobic.”
Mr. Hussein responded that there were marginal and extremist voices on any issue. “You can teach a whole class about why Hitler was good,” Mr. Hussein said.
During the exchange, Ms. Baker, the department head, and Dr. Everett, the administrator, separately walked up to the religion professor, put their hands on his shoulders and said this was not the time to raise these concerns, Dr. Berkson said in an interview.
But Dr. Berkson, who said he strongly supported campus diversity, said that he felt compelled to speak up.
“We were being asked to accept, without questioning, that what our colleague did — teaching an Islamic art masterpiece in a class on art history after having given multiple warnings — was somehow equivalent to mosque vandalism and violence against Muslims and hate speech,” Dr. Berkson said. “That is what I could not stand.”
The unsurprising result has been the non-renewal of the faculty member (although I understand that she’s likely to do just fine) and the national humiliation of the university. The problem here is that administrators as a class tend to view faculty as the enemy, and use DEI policies (which they barely understand) as a rough tool for disciplining that enemy. I do wish that faculty and the bodies that are supposed to represent us would come to understand that administrators *are absolutely not our friends*, even when those administrators purport to be bearing DEI policies that are founded upon decades of rigorous academic work on diversity and exclusion.