Sunday, May 23, 2010

Anti-Semitism and Honourary Degrees

A last word on Heather Reisman's honouary degree from Mount Allison. OK, more than one word ....

First, a student drew my attention to a National Post blog in which Mount Allison's faculty were called "loopy" for having concerns about international affairs. That is a simplification but only baring. Basically, the Post blog attempted to mock the concerns of Mount A faculty and did describe them as loopy. Too bad. One would have hoped for better from a journalist/blogger working for the Post. In particular, one would have hoped that he would have engaged the issues or even been informed about them. I was at the debate in Senate, btw, and there was nothing loopy about it. The issues under consideration were serious and, frankly, they should be. Public dialogue on controversial issues is obviously not advanced by calling people names.

Second, I'm not certain she said this but here Reisman suggests some level of anti-semitism may have been at work on the actions of faculty and others who opposed awarding her an honourary degree. Actually, the quote is "borders on." I will confess I am not certain what this means. Can one be a little bit anti-semitic? Again, what is odd, is that Reisman calls for dialogue and then -- if true -- makes a statement like this. She accuses her opponents of being uninformed and yet she appears to be -- if she said this -- woefully uninformed. She was not at the debate in at the university Senate and seems not to have bothered to inform herself about some of the key figures involved. In a previous post, I note my disagreements with those who would have taken back Reisman's honouary degree. Let me state, though, that they are upstanding people. I know Wayne Hunt  and David Thomas (two people quoted in the news story) personally. They are good, kind, and honest men. To accuse them of behaviour bordering on racism because they have concerns about an honourary degree recipient is, frankly, a mark of remarkable ignorance.

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