LINCOLN University, the historically black college in Chester County, is the latest battleground over "academic freedom" for college profs supported by taxpayer funds.
The dispute involves Kaukab Siddique, a tenured English and journalism professor who's called for the violent destruction of Israel. More important, Siddique is a Holocaust denier and editor of publications that promote major Holocaust deniers.
I helped to place Siddique on the national radar when I challenged Lincoln to begin hearings on his competency when I was a substitute host on Lou Dobbs' radio show. I said Lincoln should denounce his hateful views, like those reported by the Daily News in which Siddique, in a video recorded on Labor Day weekend, said, "We must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel - if possible by peaceful means."
He also said, "For the Jews, I would say, 'See what could happen to you if the Muslims wake up.' And I say to the Muslims, 'Dear brothers and sisters, unite and rise up against this hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism.' "
Sadly, such rhetoric is becoming more common on campuses. Siddique's real talent is that he and the university claim that he has the right to be a Holocaust denier and the editor of publications that feature the academic work, if you can excuse the expression, of notorious Holocaust-denier David Irving.
My analysis is that Siddique is just the latest hater to hide behind the skirts of academic freedom. The Holocaust is a fact. No one has academic freedom from the facts.
Joe Torsella, the state Board of Education chairman, has underlined this distinction better any other public official. He said on my show that "A professor expressing personal opinions, even extraordinarily objectionable ones, on current events is one matter, and I understand the need to protect these expressions of speech. Denying the Holocaust, a tragic historical fact, is another matter entirely."
I've been through this perversion of academic freedom before when I exposed a study by Temple University adjunct professor of psychology Bruce Rind contending that pedophilia (sexual relations between adults and even young children) did not cause significant damage to the kids. He even claimed that a pedophile could play a helpful and positive role in the child's life.
This was a famous 1998 case that ended with the state Legislature and Congress condemning this work. Rind used 59 unpublished and unvetted studies to claim that society was wrong about pedophilia. This work was unscientific and dangerous and not protected by academic freedom.
Lincoln should convene a hearing to determine if Siddique is competent to teach. This is a reasonable response given that as a Holocaust denier, he teaches journalism students who are supposed to learn how to pursue the facts of a story. There is a clear connection between his professional life and his hateful rantings.
And Lincoln can't continue to say that Siddique pushes his distorted views only outside the classroom. I agree with state Reps. Daylin Leach, Anthony Williams and Stephen Barrar, and Torsella, that we need to know if any school resources, like office support, e-mail, computers or research facilities, have been used to convey his hateful views or in support of his New Trend Magazine.
There is developing evidence that Siddique has most likely even expressed these views at a seminar or seminars held on Lincoln's campus. The Anti-Defamation League reports that Siddique participated in an April 2003 event with Jamaat al-Muslimeen, a Baltimore-based group that promotes Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. The event featured Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz, an ex-member of the Nation of Islam. Siddique argued that U.S. policies in the Middle East, particularly support for Israel, are based on "white supremacy."
I ALSO agree with Barrar that the Legislature must tighten the rules for state-funded institutions providing tenure for those like Siddique. Could they not have foundthe extensive hateful writings of this man online? Siddique has a right to be a hateful wing nut. But he shouldn't get a fat check, paid in part by your tax dollars, for being one on campus.