Universities, colleges and our overall work environments should be free of political bias. As a society, we should strive for an inclusive community where people of different beliefs and backgrounds can have equal opportunities, regardless of their potential political differences with their boss or professor. And in fact most work places and Universities do strive for such environment. However, recently a professor from the Holy Union University in Alabama, bluntly brought politics to campus and discriminated a student due to his own political opinions.
The law professor, John, rescinded his offer to write a letter of recommendation to a student, Abigail, after realizing that the letter is intended for an internship with an organization advocating for pro-choice. John noted that due to his religious belief, he opposes abortion and could not take any part in such activity, including letters of recommendations to students that will be used for pro-choice advocacy career. Further he noted, that many other departments and professors boycott pro-choice organizations due to the university’s religious affiliation. While the professor previously agreed to provide a letter of recommendation, and was willing to do so for other organizations, he rescinded his offer with regards to the student’s specific career intentions. Effectively, the professor forced his own belief and political view on the student.
The above story is complete fiction, and the Holy Union University in Alabama doesn’t exist. But, if you were angered by the professor’s forceful imposition of his own political views and beliefs, I suggest channeling these fillings to the actual John and Abigail in this story. John Chenev-Lippold, a professor from the University of Michigan’s Department of American Culture, rescinded his recommendation letter to Abigail after realizing it is for a semester abroad program in Israel. Regardless of BDS and the discussion on its legitimacy, if professors allow themselves to discriminate subordinates based on their political views, the distance between education and indoctrination becomes smaller and smaller. What if employers decide to do the same? Can you imagine a world where a coal company rejects an applicant because he is a Democrat? Or a tech company against a Republican? Unlike federal level sanctions on North Korea or Iran, the BDS sanctions have not been imposed at the national or state level by elected officials and thus remain a personal political choice (a highly debatable one). Until the BDS movement is able to pass federal level sanctions against Israel or the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a political issue that, just like any other, should not be forced on subordinates.
The hypocrisy of the professor is also not to be ignored. Even if assumed right in his views, the isolation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among all others, as the single conflict for one sided political boycott in education (without Federal sanctions) is extreme bias and best and Anti-Semitism at worse. But, if you ever wondered what the BDS really wants, you’re probably not surprised.