counterpunch | JF: I notice you made no mention of public speaking. You used to do quite a lot of it, as I recall. Do you still?
WC: Nowhere near as much as I was doing prior to 2005. That, in part, is because I’ve been administratively blacklisted on campuses nationwide. There’ve been a fair number of instances in which I’ve been lined up by faculty and/or students to deliver a lecture and college or university presidents have directly intervened to prevent the event from happening. In a few cases, the organizers took such abridgments of their own intellectual rights seriously enough to force the issue and staged the events anyway, but usually not. The meekness with which tenured faculty members have typically submitted to administrative dictates in situations like this has been quite enlightening, and speaks volumes to the state of “academic freedom” in the contemporary U.S.
Both politically and psychologically, it’s of course been necessary that the folks I’ve just described, especially those claiming a liberal pedigree, advance some other, more palatable explanation of their behavior and its implications. Most often, this has taken the form of their citing some supposed defect in my scholarship and/or my “abrasive style,” either or both of which were ostensibly pointed out to them after their invitation was extended, causing them to rethink the propriety of offering me a forum in a campus setting imbued with such lofty standards of scholarship and collegiality as their own. In the name of something like “quality control,” then, preserving the “academic integrity” of their institutions leaves them no alternative but to concur—always with the utmost reluctance, of course—and only in this particular instance, mind you—with the administration’s preemption of students’ right to hear and assess whatever I might have to say and customary faculty prerogatives in the bargain.
The upshot is that not only has a decided majority of the liberal professoriate exposed itself as being guilty of the most craven sort of capitulation vis-à-vis the principles they espouse and are purportedly prepared to defend, but the manner in which they’ve sought to rationalize the capitulation has served to lend a completely unwarranted appearance of “left wing” validation to the welter of falsehoods promoted on the right for purposes of discrediting both me, personally, and, more importantly, the kind of work I’ve been doing over the past several decades. All of that nonsense about my having perpetrated “scholarly fraud” and the like has been long since and repeatedly disproven, both in court and elsewhere—that’s a matter of record, easily accessible to anyone who cares to look—but they simply ignore such facts in favor of the convenience embodied in regurgitating the same old lies as a pretext.
None of this is breaking news, of course, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s how blacklisting has always worked. Which means, among other things, that being blacklisted is in no sense an experience unique to me, either currently or historically. A lot of people have been blacklisted for one reason or another and to a greater or lesser extent over the years, and, as is readily evidenced by the examples of Norman Finkelstein and a number of others, that’s still true. It just happens that among the recent cases, mine has been especially high-profile, and is thus rather useful for illustrative purposes. So I’ve run down this aspect of it mainly to demonstrate to anyone entertaining doubts on the matter that not much has really changed in these respects since, say, 1955.