Are universities really not a place of true learning, free speech, and sharing ideas?

When professor Salaita was dismissed it was not based on the politics of the president of the university; it was based on the politics and opinions of the board and more importantly the wealthy donors that many universities, no matter if they are public or private, are implicitly beholden to. If this were a private university perhaps this kind of exclusivity of thought and pressure from those associated with the university could be understandable. However, the university of Illinois is a public institution with the majority of its finances coming from the people of Illinois. On that note, the methods by which the university is governed and therefore regulated could use some examination. Now it would be impractical to expect state oversight of every hiring and firing that the university executes each year but clearly some guidelines either need to be legislated or at least prescribed by the state Department of Education as far as what a fieable offence is for non-tenured professors.  Something must be done to protect academic freedom from the opinions of the few and the powerful before it gets to the stage of Dr. Salaita’s case. As far as the content of the tweets, there is disagreement and dissent over the treatment of Palestine within Israel itself and Palestinian rights and awareness groups are widespread across the United States, especially within universities. Dr. Salaita’s opinions, while they may be farther out than the center of this movement, are by no means uncommon or exceptional. However, due to the politicization of U.S. Israeli foreign policy any dissenting views are seen as fringe by the political class on both sides of the aisle. Dr. Salaita’s rights to free speech were violated by the university as a representative of the state of Illinois. Dr. Salaita has since settled his lawsuit and does not teach at the University of Illinois.

Source:

Dismissed Professor Steven Salaita Speaks Out 

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/10/7/does_free_speech_have_a_palestine

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We really can’t trust our current news and information media…

Dr. Chomsky’s talk in the first portion of the interview focused largely on how the people, or at least the electorate, are manipulated by the messaging of the various political parties and in turn the media. It is through this manipulation that many people end up supporting positions that are outside of their own self interests such as subsidies for the wealthy and various large industries. The complicity of the media is highlighted in the fact that he himself is not welcome on many, even liberal, news channels. These channels stick fairly close to their respective party lines and are distracted from their political interests by their philosophical or social beliefs. This has only been amplified since then and the conservative populism that he feared has taken hold. The question of who benefits is one of the most important to ask in a democracy but when the messaging from even the media has been so obscured the majority of the population won’t find the answer without digging themselves. As for foreign policy, we have been continuously fed a “Us vs. Them” message regarding global politics since the cold war that largely ignores the majority of the world. Even in a post cold war world the only viewpoints that are considered on a global scale are those that the United States agrees to. A middle way in many cases, and as Dr. Chomsky proposes in the section on the Ukraine, is largely ignored. Of course, all countries are motivated by the welfare of the people over that of the planet, if the countries are truly democratic they are the people, but why should the interests of the people and the planet be exclusive from one another?

Source:

Noam Chomsky: Democracy is a Threat to Any Power System interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2dw7OZD-mg .