There is a professors’ club called the American Studies Association which recently decided to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Now although I don’t usually have much use for guild organizations like this, I propose a toast to the ASA. This was certainly the right thing to do, and even now, a fairly ballsy thing to do, and I hope more such groups follow their example.
It should come as no surprise to hear that the Fort Zion defense team is chewing the carpet. (Of course they’re always chewing the carpet, but now the molars are involved.)
In my home state, one of the most loathsome, squalid, reptilian, stercoraceous, depraved, shameless and dogfaced politicians America has ever produced has leaped into the fray. And no, I don’t mean Bill Clinton: I mean someone even worse, if worse be possible, namely Sheldon Silver, the Democratic speaker of the New York state assembly — itself, of course, the filthiest, most vendible and abject deliberative body ever assembled since Satan called his council to order on the ever-burning sulfur unconsum’d.
(Though the New York state senate might be even worse. It’s a near-run thing.)
That faux-chateau in the background is the home of the New York state legislature. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Henry Hobson Richardson designed it, and never, I think, was good solid Victorian architecture more wasted on a stinkpot kennel of slinking soup-hounds.
Shelly has introduced a bill to defund any academic institution in the state of New York which ‘funds’ the ASA. The term ‘funds’ in this context includes things like paying a professor’s dues to the ASA, or defraying his travel costs to a farbrengen thereof.
Now what strikes me most about this measure is the tooth-gnashing impotence of it. Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. The worst thunderbolt that Shelly can fling at this atrocity, from his Olympus in Albany, is to trim the expense accounts of professors. A fleabite. We have come a long way.
If I were running the ASA I would offer a dues and registration waiver to anyone living under Zionist occupation, including the hapless citizens of New York. As for travel expenses — perhaps the Iranian government would be willing to establish a scholarship fund.
It seems to me that this ludicrously damp and inconsequential leven-stroke — a fulguration that signally fails to fulminate — ought to be matter for unbridled rejoicing among the friends of Palestine and foes of Israel (among whom I number myself, though the least).
It puts me in mind of a story told to me by an old friend of mine. My friend’s grandfather had very sensibly gotten himself out of Russia, as a young man, during the bad old days of the Black Hundreds. When the grandfather was a venerable patriarch the family, for his birthday, took him to see Fiddler On The Roof. In this show there is a pogrom scene; a number of Broadway dancers dressed as Cossacks come swirling onstage and behave in a very mean way toward the unfortunate inhabitants of the shtetl. The music, I’m told, gets very loud at this point.
During this scene the patriarch’s shoulders were observed to be shaking. The family were worried: Is this just too intense for the old boy?
At intermission, tender concern was, well, tendered. The grandfather, dissolved in mirth, managed to say, ‘You call that a pogrom?!’
This is sort of how I feel about Shelly’s bill. You call that a pogrom? If that is the best the Zionists can do, then difficult as it may be to accept, we’ve won.
Of course this hasn’t prevented all my academic friends from heating up the mailing lists. The humanity!
I guess it’s all a question of where the shoe pinches.