Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 176: Confidence lost long ago


The former American Embassy in Saigon, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the end of the war in 2005

Bob Kerrey, president of my Alma Mater The New School, was given a vote of no confidence on Wednesday by a significant majority (74 of 77) of the university's tenured faculty. For me, this is good news since I have severely disagreed with him being the president of The New School since 2001. Why? Not because politicians shouldn't run universities (although I don't think they should), not because there has been an oddly high turn over of provosts for the last several years, not because he initially supported the Iraq war, not because he has recruited military contractors to be member's of the board of trustees or because he's lost touch with the liberal, social, creative, human-scale that the New School for Social Research was founded AS (he has done all of this) - but simply because he was, and still is, a war criminal. This information was made public knowledge in 2001 and I am still confused about why it didn't instantly result in his dismissal. For this reason alone, Bob Kerrey as president of The New School contradicts everything that the New School was ever meant to be.

Change is underway and next week is bound to bring the situation to its apex as all full-time professors will pass judgment on the situation Monday.

FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) directly address his gruesome personal history in conjunction with the current situation unfolding at the New School, which could result in his dismissal for reasons other than his atrocities in Vietnam, in their December 12th blog post.

I have copied it below for ease of reading:

Bob Kerrey, New School's 'Moderate' War Criminal
12/12/2008 by Jim Naureckas
"With Bob Kerrey back in the news (New York Times, 12/11/08) as the faculty of the New School University that he heads gives him a vote of no confidence, it's worth recalling the kid-glove treatment given to him by most of the media when his involvement in Vietnam-era war crimes was revealed.

Oddly, New York Times reporters Marc Santora and Lisa Foderaro, who wrote about the New School vote, don't seem to recall that Kerrey participated in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians--an atrocity that caused considerable controversy when it was exposed by the New York Times Magazine (4/25/01)--when they recount the major events of his career, though they do remember that Kerrey "briefly considered a run for mayor of New York in 2005." Presumably a war criminal heading up a school largely founded by refugees from Nazi Germany is a problem for at least some faculty members, but the New York Times' summation of the politics of the situation is that Kerrey's own politics "were too moderate for the unabashedly liberal campus."

Additional links in case you are interested:

"Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator who won the Medal of Honor for his military service in Vietnam, has acknowledged that a combat mission he led there three decades ago caused the deaths of 13 to 20 unarmed civilians, most of them women and children."
-from the New York Times in 2001

You can also read about the Vietnamese government's response to his acts here.

And Bob Kerrey's own response to the current situation.


2 comments:

New School Faculty said...

Please understand that the views in this post are not the views of the current faculty. For the latter please see: www.newnewschooluniversity.blogspot.com

Fact Checker said...

As a member of the current faculty of The New School, I can say that these views are definitely shared by SOME of the current faculty. I'm not sure who authored the view expressed in the comment signed "New School Faculty", but that comment does NOT express "the views of the current faculty" any more than mine do. Please qualify your statements when speaking for me. And please qualify the title of your blog. Who has authorized you to speak for me and everyone else AS "New School Faculty??"