Thursday, March 31, 2005

Timid can't find the Columbia University story

Karen W. Arenson's "Columbia Panel Reports No Proof of Anti-Semitism" is puzzling in many ways. Often it appears that her only information for this article is a report (scheduled to be released today). If that is the case, one wonders what she's doing writing this report on a report? Possibly, however, the nature of the topic was too charged for the Timid so there was a need to practice more than the usual "restraint" and go for "uninformed."

Who, what, where and when are the basics and they're not covered in Arenson's report that never bothers to mention, for instance, Daniel Pipes. The David Project is mentioned: "The film was backed by the David Project, a pro-Israel group based in Boston." What is The David Project? Don't look to the Timid for answers. Also don't expect today's book report on a committee's report to mention Campus Watch.

Noting that this may or may not resemble the piece Arenson wrote originally and that others may have had a hand in what appears in the paper under Arenson's byline, I still have to wonder what the actual assignment here was? Reading "Columbia Panel Reports No Proof of Anti-Semitism," my guess is Arenson was encouraged to write solely about what the report stated or her piece was rewritten by others to focus solely on the report.

Now granted, I've always had a disdain for book reports over book reviews but I'm finding it hard to grasp how the Times thought anyone would benefit from a summary of the report with little background on the events that led to it?

To read the article, which avoids mention of outside players, one is left with the impression that this was solely a case of university students and university faculty. The Times may see that as playing it "safe" and think pat themselves on the back. Readers, however, aren't being informed of key facts. Again, this is a summary of a report. For those not grasping my point (wouldn't be the first time), it's as though students were assinged Great Expectations and one student showed up to tell us "the story begins" and then go on to summarize the events printed on the page of the novel. There's no perspective given outside of what the actual text says.

The Times loves its official sources so one might think this was merely another case of an official source (the ad hoc committee's report) trumping perspective. But the problem is that other publications have not refrained from giving perspective so assuming that the "official record" consists solely of a report coming from an ad hoc committee is a mistake.

There's nothing in the paper's printed report/summary to reassure a reader who's already heard of this story that the Times has a grasp on it.

For a perspective of what led up to the ad hoc committee being formed, refer to Scott Sherman's "The Mideast Comes to Columbia:"

The current developments at Columbia are deeply satisfying to Kramer and Pipes: A few months ago Harvard Magazine asked Pipes to delineate Campus Watch's recent accomplishments, and he replied, "Pressuring Columbia University to the point that the president has organized a committee [to investigate] political intimidation in the classroom."
[. . .]
In June 2002 Daniel Pipes co-wrote a piece in the New York Post titled "Extremists on Campus," which lashed Massad and Dabashi. Returning to New York from a trip to Japan, Dabashi says, he found his voice mail overflowing with bile: "Hey, Mr. Dabashi," said one caller. "I read about you in today's New York Post. You stinking, terrorist Muslim pig."

Warren Hoge's "U.N. Council Approves Penalties in Darfur" was noted in an e-mail from Ben.
From that article:

The Security Council voted Tuesday to impose sanctions on individuals in the conflicted Darfur region of Sudan who commit atrocities or break cease-fire agreements.
The vote was 12 to 0, with three countries - Algeria, China and Russia - abstaining. Under the resolution, all 15 countries would contribute members to a new panel that would decide who was eligible for punishment.
The measure, drafted by the United States, bans travel by individuals who are deemed guilty of offenses and freezes their assets. It also forbids the Sudanese government in Khartoum from conducting offensive military flights into Darfur and from sending military equipment there without first notifying the Security Council.

Call it nepotism, cronyism or just "keeping it in the family," but note this from Eric Lipton's
"Bush Names Cheney Kin to Legal Post:"

President Bush has nominated the vice president's son-in-law, Philip J. Perry, as general counsel of the Homeland Security Department, where he would oversee 1,500 lawyers who work on legal matters like Coast Guard maritime laws and immigration.
Mr. Perry, who is married to Elizabeth Cheney, is leaving the Washington office of the Latham & Watkins law firm, where he was a partner, as well as a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, one of the top 10 contractors for the Homeland Security Department.

Elizabeth Cheney already works under Condi. Presumably Mary Matlin can't be expected to pull one million dollar book contracts out her butt for everyone in the Cheney family.

Eli e-mails asking that we note Robert Pear's "Judge Blocks Rule Allowing Companies to Cut Benefits When Retirees Reach Medicare Age:"

A federal district judge on Wednesday blocked a Bush administration rule that would have allowed employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare.
Ten million retirees could have had benefits cut under the rule, which was adopted last April by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The judge, Anita B. Brody of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia, struck down the rule and issued a permanent injunction that prohibits federal officials from enforcing it.

Kara e-mails regarding another court finding, Linda Greenhouse's "Supreme Court Removes Hurdle to Suits Alleging Age Bias:"

Adopting a pro-worker interpretation of the federal law that prohibits age discrimination in employment, the 5-to-3 decision held that employees can prevail by showing that a policy has a discriminatory impact on older workers, regardless of the employer's motivation.
The decision removed the requirement, imposed by a number of lower federal courts, that employees produce the equivalent of a smoking gun in order to win an age discrimination suit. Since discrimination on the job is often subtle, and proof of motivation often elusive, the need to demonstrate intentional discrimination has led to the dismissal of many lawsuits before trial.

e-mails to note an Associated Press article entitled "Lawmaker Charged in an Anthrax Scare." This is a short article, so I'll summarize it. Republican state legislature Jeffrey E. Habay, from Pennsylvania, has been "charged with falsely incriminating another, fictitious reports, solicitation to commit perjury and 'facsimile weapons of mass destruction.'"

Brad notes Monica Davey's "Bewildered Tribe Looks Warily Inward:"

Over the weekend the authorities arrested Louis Jourdain, the 16-year-old son of Floyd Jourdain Jr., the chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewas. And residents in this community of 5,000 say agents have spent recent days interviewing, at length, three or four boys and girls who were part of a small clique, friends of Mr. Weise and Mr. Jourdain. Some of the others had exchanged e-mail messages with Mr. Weise, as had Mr. Jourdain.
[. . .]
Investigators are now trying to determine just how much the others knew and whether that knowledge added up to a crime, the official said. So far, those youths have contended that they had only incidental knowledge of the plan and did not believe it would actually become reality.
Some friends and relatives of the shooting victims said they were horrified to think that others might have heard some warning - anything at all - and merely ignored it. "That's almost impossible to believe," said Byron Lussier, whose nephew, Chase, died.

Lastly, Rod urges everyone to skip the Zimbabwe reporting in this morning's Times and instead read IPS's "From Anti-Blair to Aunty Blair?" (by Jacklynne Hobbs with assistance from
Sekai Ngara and Moyiga Nduru). From that article:

They point to the ruthless suppression of a rebellion in the 1980s by supporters of Joshua Nkomo, head of the Zimbabwe African People's Union, and ask why this was followed by an honorary knighthood for Mugabe in 1994 -- while the occupation of white-owned farms six years later elicited a different reaction from the international community.
The farm invasions were initially portrayed by government as a spontaneous attempt by veterans of the 1970s liberation war to correct imbalances in land ownership that dated back to the colonial era. However, government critics say the occupations were orchestrated by Harare in a bid to short up public support ahead of the 2000 parliamentary poll.
"When one is talking about politics of the West you cannot discount the issue of race as far as Africa is concerned. Clearly there has been a real problem amongst Western governments in dealing with the violence in Zimbabwe from the '80s and the post-2000 period," says Zimbabwean political analyst Brian Raftopoulos.

E-mail address for this site is