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Feb 15, 2006 8:48 pm

Yet More Noted

Australian television has released additional photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Viewer discretion is advised. The images are very offensive.

David Mendel,"2 Illini editors are suspended," Chicago Tribune, 15 February, indicates that two editors of the student newspaper at the University of Illinois have been suspended for publishing the offensive Danish editorial cartoons about Muhammad. The editor-in-chief indicates that he expects to be fired at the end of an internal investigation. Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief at the University of North Carolina's Daily Tarheel defends his decision to publish a similar cartoon. I've criticized the original publication of the cartoons as imprudent and I think it was. But student editors ought not face punishment, even for imprudent decisions, unless – you know – you want to teach them that there's no such thing as freedom of the press in the United States.

Mitchell Langbert,"Slush Money in the Groves of Academe," Front Page Rag, 15 February. As the attribution suggests, I take a backseat to no one in my contempt for David Horowitz's e-rag, but Mitchell Langbert's article is a good reminder of why my colleague, KC Johnson, is one of my heroes.

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Ralph E. Luker - 4/18/2006

Ms. Rose, If you want to continue this conversation with or about Sherman Dorn, I'd suggest that Cliopatria is not the proper venue for it. He may not see your comments on a thread that is now three months old. Why don't you go over to his own blog, which you can find on Cliopatria's History Blogroll and take it up directly with him there. As it is, it looks like you are attacking him without his even being aware of it. That's not a fair fight.

Janet Rose - 4/17/2006

Sherman, now that Al Aryan has been convicted, wouldn't you say that the PSC's claim (and your claim) that it was contributing to Al Aryan because his free speech was impeded was something of an inaccuracy?

I suppose that next you'll argue that participation in terrorism is a matter of speech...but one more inaccuracy, or should I say outright lie?

And by the way, the NY Sun today has an interesting editorial about the chronic lying by your colleagues in the PSC, such as Barabara Bowen's claiming that she was seeking 9% all along when the Clarion said that she wouldn't settle for less than 10% only a few weeks ago.

Sherman, can't you New Caucus folks ever tell things accurately?

By JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 17, 2006 updated 6:46 pm EDT


A former Florida college professor, Sami Al-Arian, has pleaded guilty to aiding Palestinian Islamic Jihad and agreed to serve more jail time before being deported, according to records made public today by a federal court in Tampa.

Prosecutors and Al-Arian agreed that he should be sentenced to between 46 and 57 months incarceration on one count of conspiracy to assist a group or individual on a federal government terrorist list. The judge overseeing the case, James Moody Jr., has agreed to impose a sentence in that range at a hearing set for May 1.

The former University of South Florida professor has been in custody since his arrest in February 2003. Federal law allows a credit for time served and a reduction for "good time." As a result, a sentence at the low end of the range, which prosecutors have agreed to recommend, could allow Al-Arian's release and deportation as early as June.

The plea agreement does not specify where the Kuwaiti-born professor will be sent after completing his sentence, but stipulates that he will not be deported to Canada or Mexico.

Al-Arian and three co-defendants were put on trial last year. A jury heard evidence for six months before acquitting the former computer engineering professor on eight counts. Jurors could not reach agreement on nine other counts. The government signaled it was preparing for a re-trial, but has agreed to drop the remaining charges once the plea is final.

As part of the plea deal, Al-Arian admitted to a variety of facts about his support for a terrorist group responsible for killing dozens of people in Israel, Gaza, and the West bank, chiefly through suicide bombings. In the agreement, Al-Arian conceded he "was associated with" and "performed services for" Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Carey Estes Kefauver - 4/7/2006

Yes, it's funny that Sherman doesn't seem to be familiar with the Steelworkers' Trilogy decision. Of course, the PSC leadership was busy financially mismanaging the dental plan and the group life insurance plan to the point where the former is demolished and the latter is terminated. No wonder as a former treasurer Sherman has time to debate the difference between a contribution on behalf of Al Arian and a contribution to Al Arian. His colleagues were mismanaging a benefit fund to the tune of $10 million during that period.

Sherman Jay Dorn - 4/7/2006

I want to make sure to correct an error I made--I had forgotten that Langbert is an associate professor at Brooklyn College (a business/econ professor, I think). I'm still surprised that he didn't quote from the minutes, if they're definitive.

Sherman Jay Dorn - 4/7/2006

I suppose one might be upset if I had misrepresented the scope of arbitrator powers. I'm a little confused, though, because I never said a durned thing about what arbitrators do or don't do.

I'll forgive the late Sen. Kefauver for misreading my entry, because it's such an honor to correspond with dead politicians.

Sherman Jay Dorn - 4/7/2006

"In fact, the PSC union leadership has repeatedly demonstrated sympathy for extreme left wing causes. Whether the donation was for Al-Aryan's actual defense or merely in his honor is not such a major point."

It's Al-Arian, not Al-Aryan, and the specifics of the donation ARE important in terms of Langbert's credibility. A reporter who really wanted to nail the PSC leadership would quote from the minutes.

Carey Estes Kefauver - 4/7/2006

It never ceases to amaze me how Sherman Jay Dorn makes statements about which he hasn't done a bit of research as though he knows what he is talking about. Sherman Jay Dorn's sloppy incompetence in this post is amazing.

There are no rules of law concerning arbitration. An arbitrator can fashion any kind of settlement he wishes on any issue he wishes. If he gets a rule of law wrong, though, it can be appealed to a court.

If Sherman Jay Dorn weren't so sloppy and incompetent, i.e., if he checked his facts, he would know that the entire purpose of labor arbitration is to remove disputes from the legal system to an informal system free of the rules of law.

For someone like Sherman Jay Dorn who served in a union setting, that kind of sloppiness is surprising, except for this fact. That the entire PSC leadership under the New Caucus has repeatedly lied and incompetently mismanaged the CUNY union to such a degree that the current membership is shaking it collective heads in disbelief.

Janet Rose - 3/22/2006

What interests me about Sherman Jay Dorn's post is that he calls Langbert's work "sloppy" for lack of fact checking, yet Sherman Jay Dorn did not contact Langbert to check his own facts.

I checked with Langbert and he said that he had a copy of the minutes of the meeting where the donation was originally discussed in print and based all of the published comments, on the actual minutes.

In fact, the PSC union leadership has repeatedly demonstrated sympathy for extreme left wing causes. Whether the donation was for Al-Aryan's actual defense or merely in his honor is not such a major point.

When I checked with Langbert, he also told me also that he had several times contacted Steve London and Barbara Bowen, union officials, about related topics and they never replied to his inquiries. He told me that after he had raised several points by e-mail and letter he once appeared at a union meeting and London refused to call on him.

So much for full and fair representation.

And Sherman, better check your facts next time.

Sherman Jay Dorn - 2/17/2006

I wanted to make one additional comment about the Langbert article, or one particular sentence: "Had the PSC truly supported him, as it retroactively claimed, he would not have been forced to take such a desperate measure." I can't comment with expertise on the specific issues in the various grievances and broader tenure case (though any faculty member who has a legitimate grievance that isn't supported at least initially can raise a complaint about lack of representation).

However, union grievance representation has a complex relationship to private attorney work. Filing a grievance generally DOES save faculty members enormous expenses, because most grievance reps are volunteers, provided at most some release time for their work. But grievances only deal with contractual violations, not all the inequities or legal issues involved in a conflict between faculty members and an administration. It is not only conceivable but probable that any conflict as weird as KC's tenure case would involve more than just contract violations.

(In terms of the statements or actions by elected PSC officers or staff more recently, I'll have no comment other than to say that I would have acted rather differently.)

Sherman Jay Dorn - 2/17/2006

Yikes. Quoting, not quotating, though I wouldn't be surprised by that as a Bushism: "Stop misquotating me!"

Sherman Jay Dorn - 2/17/2006

Ralph, here are the statements that appeared several times in Frontpage articles coauthored by Langbert. In each case, the clear (and inaccurate) implication is that PSC funds went for the CRIMINAL defense of Al-Arian:

1. "They even have a French-style foreign policy. To support it, they have made donations to support the defense of Sami Al-Arian, who is on trial in Florida as a Palestine Islamic Jihad terrorist." (11/18/05,

2. "They even have a foreign policy theme to which they dedicate their resources. To advance it, the PSC has made donations for the defense of Sami Al-Arian, who was acquitted on seventeen of the terrorism charges against him, with the jury deadlocked on the rest." (1/23/06,

3. "The PSC, for instance, made donations for the defense of accused terrorist professor Sami Al-Arian, while refusing to support the tenure grievance of CUNY Professor Robert David (K.C.) Johnson." (1/26/06,

In the article you refer to, Langbert continues that, more explicitly: "The union seems to consider criminal charges against someone like al-Arian an urgent "academic freedom" matter." At the time of the donation (late 2002), Al-Arian had not yet been arrested or indicted. Langbert clearly misinterprets Barbara Bowen's response. From what Langbert quotes, Bowen never denied that the *occasion* was the attack on academic freedom connected with Al-Arian, but that's very different from the implication that PSC supported Al-Arian's politics. The minutes from September 5, 2002, chapter meeting includes a remark by Roy Weatherford that the support was for the chapter in its efforts to defend academic freedom, which included inviting a number of speakers to campus to discuss academic freedom (e.g., Robert O'Neil). These expenses had been piling up, and we gratefully accepted support from our state and national affiliates and my best memory is that we took the small PSC donation as a similar effort.

Surely we can separate the defense of academic freedom from support for any individual faculty's politics or off-campus activities. Of course, I don't expect Frontpage to do so, but I'm a little surprised by your accepting Langbert's misreading (whether that misreading is intentional or not).

The chronological sloppiness in reference to the PSC donation to our chapter is echoed in Langbert's quotating one of the CUNY actors in 2004, after the resolution of KC's case. This doesn't exonerate PSC's actions (and certainly not CUNY's initial attempt to deny tenure), but it does raise suspicions for me as a reader who is not intimately familiar with KC's case.

I'll address the more substantive issues in the article separately.

Ralph E. Luker - 2/15/2006

Sherman, Langbert's claim _isn't_ that the PSC contribution went to al Arian personally, but that it went to the UFF chapter at USF for the defense of an unnamed USF faculty member of middle eastern descent whose position was threatened. Can you name _another_ USF faculty member who fits that description?

Sherman Jay Dorn - 2/15/2006

As you've noticed, Ralph, Horowitz isn't exactly keen on checking facts. I won't vouch for anything regarding KC's case, but I KNOW that the small PSC donation went to the United Faculty of Florida chapter at USF, not to Al-Arian personally. I'm currently the chapter treasurer and have all the records of our former treasurer (who was in office at the time of the deposit). This is consistent with the minutes of our chapter meeting at the time.

This small claim was such an easy thing to check out--our chapter's website is easily reached, and my name is on there as treasurer (and has been for the last two years). I've never heard from Langbert asking if, by any chance, the PSC's explanation might actually be true, and my understanding is that our chapter president has never heard from Langbert either (he found out about the claim from officials in one of our national affiliates and asked me about our records).

Such sloppiness makes me wonder what else might be misleading in the story.

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