Laura Bier: The New Blacklists





[Editor's Note updated 4-13-06: Laura Bier wrote this article under the pseudonym Leah Bowman. She was identified by the Chronicle as an assistant professor who teaches Middle East history at a research university in the South. The historian Martin Kramer subsequently publicly identified her. Ms. Bier objected to our identification of her. On 4-13-06 the Chronicle demanded that we delete the excerpt we posted on 4-10-06:"We do not permit Chronicle articles to be edited or excerpted without the author's or publisher's permission (which in this case you have done) or electronically reproduced, distributed, or posted on other web sites. Please remove the article immediately." We responded that under federal law and multiple court decisions fair use allows the posting of brief excerpts from published material. But we agreed to shorten the excerpt to what you see below.]

It's rare that I get an e-mail accusing me of being a Nazi, much less an expletive-laden one, but those were the words that stared back at me as I stopped by my office to check my e-mail after a particularly long day of teaching. The message immediately following that one had a subject line that read "anti-Semitic leftist professors."

I was at the end of my first semester of teaching Middle Eastern history at a large research university in the South. Like any new faculty member, my anxieties revolved primarily around not breaking the Powerpoint projector, not being mistaken yet again for a graduate student instead of a professor, and not spilling spinach dip on the dean at one of the innumerable faculty mixers held at the beginning of the academic year. Hate mail wasn't on the list.

Since neither of the letters specified exactly what I had done to place myself in the ranks of someone who, as one of the letters put it, "shoveled Jews into the ovens at Dachau," it took me a couple of days of inquiries and some Google searching to figure out what was going on.

Two weeks earlier I had spoken on a panel about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. ....


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