College Must Examine Karega Case without Bias

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

To the Editor:

Oberlin College faculty members meet this Monday to address the issues of anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry on campus. At least to some extent, Professor Joy Karega’s posts on the internet that have been deemed anti-Semitic, not just anti-Zionist, with calls coming from many quarters for her swift dismissal, may have been one of the sparks for this gathering.

I have not met Professor Karega, I have not spoken to her or to anyone else about the matter, I have not read her actual posts, but I have read statements attributed to her. My prayer is that there will be as much a rush for fairness as for judgment, for both are essential if even a scintilla of the truth is to be found.

Additionally, whether there are those like me who know virtually nothing about the matter or those who know everything and are apoplectic that she has not been summarily fired, I hope the eventual wisdom of the process getting under way will ensure that she is provided the full protection of the Constitution, the First Amendment rights, due process, academic freedom, avoidance of a rush to judgment, jury of unbiased peers, etc., if only because Oberlin needs the facts, needs to both appear and be fair, and because any one of us may need the strength of the pillars undergirding the Constitution safeguarding our freedoms.

From afar, it seems that considerable bias may have tainted the process, but the College must still make every effort to find the few who have not rushed headlong to form an opinion, who retain a steadiness of judgment, a curiosity for facts and a passion for the truth. Those few will deserve our faith, confidence and respect for their findings.

The College must continue to prize, as its highest value, classroom teaching, publication, service, etc. We professors must understand that what we say, even in our private lives, can affect the generosity and support of donors, alumni and others. Regardless of what our positions are on this current issue, we must remind all that the numerous articles and voices competing for space to debate this and other controversial topics are a mere microcosm of the robust vitality and health of this intellectually stimulating environment. Celebrate this day.

Booker C. Peek
Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies