University Professors Love ‘Social Justice’ and Critical Race Theory, but Hate Israel

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) earlier this year courageously took a stand against “threats to academic freedom.” The AAUP statement identifies the most serious threats to academic freedom today.

No, the threat to academic freedom, according to the AAUP, is not the “social justice” political ideology that has become mandatory for all university employees today. Adherence to this ideology means prioritizing “diversity,” agreeing that members of certain racial, gender, sexuality, ethnic, and ability categories are desirable, preferable, and should be included, while members of the others are undesirable and must be excluded.

As well, “social justice” means accepting and advocating the “equity” view that human inequality has one source only: racism and discrimination. It’s forbidden to mention other sources of inequality, such as individual differences in capabilities, preferences, social background, and culture.

Furthermore, one is pledged to “inclusion,” and thus obliged to recognize that “speech is violence” and that offering opinions different from other university members, especially those from preferred categories, makes them “unsafe” and makes the university a “dangerous” place.

No, according to the AAUP, the threat to academic freedom isn’t the obligation to state your commitment and loyalty to “social justice” in order even to apply for a job or a promotion. Or the requirement not only to swear allegiance to “social justice,” but also to demonstrate that commitment through actions past and projected into the future.

[Related: “The Middle East Studies Association Betrays Academia”]

Nor presumably is it a threat to academic freedom to condition a review of a research grant application on demonstrating how the research would advance “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” A not sufficiently vigorous commitment to DEI rules out even a consideration of a research application, even in the most esoteric corners of STEM fields.

The tens of thousands of “diversity and inclusion” bureaucrats employed at universities don’t appear to be a concern of the AAUP. These updated political commissars, following Stalinist and Maoist guidelines, have been hired to enforce “social justice” conformity. Deviants must go to re-education, and if that fails, punishment and isolation follow, and finally full cancellation of the deviants by firing. Add to this the fact that the majority of university teachers are “sessional lecturers” on short-term contracts, which are easy not to renew, so there isn’t any security of tenure for the majority of professors, and thus the pressure for conformity is very strong.

The AAUP apparently doesn’t think that the banning of speech or the cancellation of those who offend the champions of “social justice” and its beneficiaries is a threat to academic freedom. What then does the AAUP identify as a major threat to academic freedom?

The AAUP thinks that—wait for it—Jews are a major threat to academic freedom. More specifically, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism is a serious threat. The reason is that, according to the AAUP statement, the definition “equates criticism of the policies of the state of Israel with antisemitism.” The problem with this claim is that it’s a blatant lie. The Holocaust Remembrance definition states specifically that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

Perhaps the underlying problem is that the AAUP sees the world through the lens of the intersectional matrix, in which Jews are (for once) identified as “white” and therefore, like all other whites, oppressors of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color). This North American ideological grid is then, counter factually, imposed over the Middle East, so that Israel is identified as “white” oppressor and the Palestinians as oppressed “people of color.” The people claiming this obviously have never looked at Israelis and Palestinians.

[Related: “Anthropology: From Pursuing Science to Endorsing Genocidal Terrorists”]

Of course, the problem of the irrelevance of nugatory racial differences in Israel is solved if all “oppressors” are by definition “white” and all “victims” are by definition “people of color.” The race matrix is handy, however inapplicably, for identifying villains and heroes around the world. The AAUP intersection approach is shown by their vigorous defense of critical race theory, which they claim is a “practice” but “not a prescribed way of thinking.”

Of course, the AAUP doesn’t see all Jews as villains. They are very keen on the “Fifty-six scholars of antisemitism, Jewish history, and the Israel-Palestine conflict [who] have called the IHRA definition ‘highly problematic and controversial,’ noting that it privileges the political interests of the state of Israel and suppresses discussion and activism on behalf of Palestinian rights.”

Yes, there are some Jews whose devotion to progressive ideology and Marxism guides their opinions, but they don’t speak for all Jews or all scholars of antisemitism and Middle East politics, nor does their ethnicity make their opinions factual or sound.

The AAUP is further agitated over various state regulations that protect citizens from discrimination on religious grounds, such as antisemitism, and that the ban on vilifying Israel through extreme rhetoric would allegedly lead to “an unconstitutionally overbroad prohibition of protected speech on matters of public concern.”

They are as well concerned that state restrictions on critical race theory would ban teaching young children that America is systemically racist and evil, that “whiteness” is evil and all whites are oppressors, that BIPOC are all victims and cannot be anything else, that merit, achievement, and capitalism are evil covers for racism. And heaven forfend that state legislatures ban the school grooming of children for the gay and trans community, and the chemical and surgical transitions of young children. All of which the AAUP apparently sees as “academic freedom.”

The AAUP accurately reflects the 90 percent of all American university professors who hold and advocate Marxist and neo-Marxist views of the world, ranging from far-left progressivism, to socialism, to communism. These professors force all social and cultural considerations into ideological procrustean beds, ignoring the realities and complexities of real life.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Epoch Times on September 12, 2022 and is republished here with permission.

Image: twixx, Adobe Stock


  • Philip Carl Salzman

    Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Past President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

12 thoughts on “University Professors Love ‘Social Justice’ and Critical Race Theory, but Hate Israel

  1. Jonathan, I have specified the doctrines and beliefs that count as neo-Marxist. These are held strongly not only by most university professors, but by the Democrat Party establishment and their Representatives and Senators in Congress, not to mention in the White House.

    But in universities the adherence to neo-Marxist ideology is also seen in the widespread antipathy to capitalism, and the support of increased government control of every aspect of society. There is also a tendency to adopt orthodox Marxist views. For example, the dominant theory in the social sciences and humanities is postcolonial theory, which is the application of Lenin’s theory of imperialism to history, but especially post-WWII historical developments. A major feature of postcolonial theory is that everything bad in the world–including castes in India and tribes in Africa–were imposed by European imperialists. In this view, local people have no agency, their culture has no impact, and there is always someone else to blame for failures, including the failures of socialism.

  2. The issue is that Israel holds the values of the Western Christian Liberal Enlightenment — it values the individual and that’s not popular in academia today.

    Yes, Israel — a non-Western, non-Christian country — reflects these small-“l” liberal values which is why the left so fears it.

  3. Just one of many reasons why I dropped AAUP membership years ago. My monthly “dues” go into my university’s general fund instead of the AAUP coffers.

  4. “The AAUP thinks that—wait for it—Jews are a major threat to academic freedom. More specifically, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism is a serious threat.”

    They are completely different things. An ethnic group, and a political organisation. Zionist propaganda is usually a bit more subtle.

  5. Zionists use the same language, the same blackmail, and take advantage of the same weakness, in white Western people, as the woke left. They shout “racist”, or “antisemitic”, and people, especially politicians, grovel.

    1. When the shoe fits, wear it. I can tell you from experience, when you scratch someone who hates Israel, eventually you’ll usually find someone who hates Jews. Yes, even Jews have enemies!t

  6. “The AAUP accurately reflects the 90 percent of all American university professors who hold and advocate Marxist and neo-Marxist views of the world”

    I am dubious that 90 percent of American professors consciously and overtly hold and advocate Marxist and neo-Marxist views of the world. Where does this claim come from? Can the author provide a source to back this up?

    I work in a very liberal university where professors who are Democrats undoubtedly outnumber Republicans, 95-5 or so. But I doubt that those Democrats would all identify as Marxist or neo-Marxist.

    Now, if you want to say that professors who advocate Social Security are socialists, or those who advocate “affirmative action” are Marxists, you might have a case — though I think it would be a rather contrived one.

    1. Talk about quoting out of context — in leaving out the dependant clause (without indicating you did so), you are flirting with academic fraud.

      If you read the rest of the quoted sentence, and the next one, you will see a clear definition of what he means by “Marxist or neo-Marxist.”

    2. Marxist theory specifies that society is characterized by two classes, workers and capitalists, the former exploited and oppressed by the latter. The neo-Marxist theory widely held in universities by the 90% of professors who adhere to the Democrat Party, and by almost all administrators, is that American society is divided between two classes, the oppressed victims being “marginalized and underserved minorities,” specifically females, BLPOC, LGBTQ2S++, Muslims, and disabled, with the oppressors being whites, males, heterosexuals, people clinging to their birth sex, Christians, Jews, and Asians. In universities, members of the oppressor categories have been declared personae non gratae, and all posts and benefits have been directed away from individuals in “oppressor” categories, toward those in “victim” categories. Furthermore, in the communist totalitarian tradition, tens of thousands of “diversity” commissars have been hired to police thought and speech, and anyone deviating from the neo-Marxist line is subjects to reeducation, punishment, and, eventually, full cancellation by expulsion.

      1. Calling the “Democrat professors” neo-Marxist is the mirror image of the trash talk about deplorable. semi-fascists, the like. It may have a grain of truth. but it is not very useful. By your reasoning. Yoram Hazony would count probably as both Marxist and neo-Marxist. If the shoe doesn’t fit why wear it?

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