University Rot Keeps Spreading

Rutgers Newark Campus (courtesy)

What do the following have in common?

  • Widespread cheating by science researchers.
  • The romanticization of Muslim terrorists on college campuses
  • Claudine Gay

If you guessed all are symptoms of the rot undermining college education, you would be right.

Remember the good-looking soldier I mentioned in a previous podcast whose moral compass led him back to Israel to re-enlist? Well, he was not, by his own admission, college material. He told me he dropped out of college…twice. The academic life wasn’t for him. However, he rang rings around me in a discussion we had at the soldiers barbecue when it came to macro-economics, bit coins and cryptocurrency. He also was well read on a variety of topics especially finance and history.

I can only conclude that some of the brightest and most ethically committed of our young people don’t belong in the corrupt environment of today’s universities.

Let’s start with widespread cheating. The Wall Street Journal (Counterfeit Studies Are Infecting Scientific Journals, May 15, 2024) reported that a leading and well-respected publisher of scientific journals, Wiley, has retracted 11,300 papers that they suspected were “compromised.” Turns out that there is an entire industry of “paper mills,” as the WSJ reports, that offers to list a scientist as an author of a wholly or partially fabricated paper. Scientists and professors are pressured to publish in peer-reviewed journals in order to win grants and promotions and that leads many to cut corners. But that’s just the easiest way to quantify their offenses.

Not discussed was what may be an even more pernicious problem: the publishing and circulation of non-fabricated papers in the “soft” sciences that are “merely” ridiculous and instead of advancing knowledge turn papers into an exercise of employing nonsensical jargon to advance their pet causes.. . And the numbers are jaw dropping. There are 46,736 academic journals worldwide as of 2020. Over the last 10 years the number has grown by 29 percent (emphasis is mine). So among these astronomical number of academic journals churning out an estimated one million papers, there are bound to be plenty like those penned by Dr. Jasbir Puar, professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

I’m focusing on her specifically because shes been on my radar since 2016 for her blatant antisemitism parading in the cloak of academic “research.” And, it’s more personal because she’s teaching at my alma mater. She’s the author of

“A Transnational Feminist Critique of Queer Tourism” published in Wiley’s journal Antipode. She summarizes her paper as follows: “This article frames queer tourism through two lenses. First, I explore how queer tourism and queer spatiality occlude questions of gender and efface the varied modalities of travel, tourism, mobility, and space/place–making activities of women, especially with respect to queer women and lesbians. Second, I point out the neocolonial impulses of all queer travel by highlighting the colonial history of travel and tourism and the production of mobility through modernity, and vice versa.”

I can’t understand any of that, but then again I’m not a Harvard professor. This is just one tiny example of the sprinkling of words such as “colonial” and “spatiality” that passes as a badge of academic belonging. Awful as this article may be, her latest book The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability published by Duke University Press in 2017 is breathtakingly awful.

Vassar must have received advanced copies of the book when they invited her to speak at a talk on “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters” in 2016.

During her talk she asserted that Israel had “mined for organs for scientific research” from dead Palestinians and is deliberately starving and maiming Palestinians. She had no evidence for this. Here’s just one quote from an interview she gave four years ago (“A Deep and Ongoing Dive into the Brutal Humanism that Undergirds Liberalism: An Interview with Jasbir K. Puar,” Humanity Journal, Winter 2020): “that is, the power of Israel as an unrelenting violence producing machine. It intentionally tutors populations into a sense of value or valuelessness…”

And there were no repercussions. She continues to teach at Rutgers after this for now eight years. Students of hers most likely were subjected to her brainwashing and no doubt were among those protesting to “free Palestine.”

How do I know this? Well, Rutgers website says that the Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies serves 3,500 students annually. It boasts that it is “one of the strongest interdisciplinary graduation and undergraduate programs in the United States. Each course, they write, considers the “complex dynamics linking race, ethnicity, locality, class, gender, and sexuality.” They continue,” Ultimately, we strive to ground both research and theory in the everyday realities of feminist activism around the globe.”

Well student encampments accusing Zionists of genocide is what this everyday reality looks like. We should know by now that in the intersectionality game practiced on most college campuses today, Jewish students, perceived as white and “privileged” end up dead last. What’s more, as Rutgers points out, one-quarter of those majoring in Women’s Studies, or 875 a year, go on to careers in education, where they will most likely perpetuate the identity politics they absorbed in college.

The ones romanticizing terrorists are clearly the professors. At Rutgers, as at many universities, they have been a breeding ground for professors such as Puar, who sadly isn’t even the worst of them, but only emblematic.

As the WSJ pointed out the cheating has become industrial-strength and rooting it out will require a shift in the way these articles are published. It reflects an ingrained disregard for the truth. And professors like Puar, who cloak themselves in meaningless jargon like “biopolitics,” “ aporia,” “atomizing,” “homonationalism,” etc. are also engaging in another perhaps more insidious form of disrupting research and learning.

Claudine Gay reached the pinnacle of success at Harvard being named President in July of 2023 and was only taken down when her ineptitude was unveiled at a Congressional hearing and which lead to an examination of her ability to govern what is one of the most prestigious colleges in the US. Her equivocating about whether calling for the genocide of Jews should be considered hate speech, however, is not what got her to be forced to resign. It was the numerous allegations of plagiarism which finally led to her resignation. And when she finally did step down she blamed the attacks against as having been fueled by racial animus.

These three recent developments point to the growing rot at universities that has been festering for decades. And like the weeds in a garden that overrun the more productive plants they must be uprooted lest they infect the entire crop.

About the Author
Gina Friedlander is obsessed with all things Israeli. She served as editor of several trade magazines in the health and supplement industries before switching careers and becoming a high school English teacher and tutor of English and SAT prep. Currently she spends her time visiting Israel, writing, playing tennis, doing Israeli folk dancing, and trying to stay positive.
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