The Oberlin Review

Joy Karega Deserved to be Fired

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The Review recently reported that Joy Karega is suing Oberlin over her dismissal, her case “claiming breach of contract and employment discrimination on the basis of race and gender” (“Karega Sues College, Claiming Discrimination,” The Oberlin Review, Nov. 16, 2018). She actually got fired for posting indisputably anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Facebook. Does anyone think this constitutes discrimination against her?

Firing Karega reflected basic morality and logic. We know in principle that any institution is justified in firing someone who, even in their personal life, publicly endorses vulgar, racist ideas. Many of Karega’s defenders likely concede as much. For example, when yet another white person has a public racist outburst or meltdown, many on the political left identify them and call for the person to lose their job.

Some might construe Karega’s posts as being on a lesser scale than other racist acts and therefore relatively innocuous. But the principles behind her firing remain unchanged and paramount. For example, we agree that if Karega was sharing neo-Nazi white-supremacist website The Daily Stormer on Facebook, Oberlin would not only be right to remove her, but also within its rights to distance itself from her or any other professor promoting anti-Semitic beliefs. In principle, then, some social media posts are grounds for dismissal.

That her posts were anti-Semitic is without question (“Karega-Mason’s Facebook Posts Anti-Semitic,” The Oberlin Review, March 4, 2016). So to anyone who disagrees with Karega’s firing — particularly those evaluating her actions in terms of scale — does that mean you’re willing to overlook even a little anti-Semitism?

Similarly, though less important, is that Karega publicly promoting any conspiracy theories at all speaks to the value she places on serious scholarship and therefore her qualifications to teach Oberlin College students rhetoric and composition.

Tom Cohn
College senior

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Joy Karega Deserved to be Fired”

  1. anonymous on December 5th, 2018 8:39 PM

    Is anti-Zionist inherently anti-semitic?

    I see a flaw in the logic of your argument, or maybe a flaw in the way you are arguing. You assume and/or mis-read Karega’s anti-Zionist position for an anti-Jewish position. Are Zionists a race? Are all Jews Zionists? Karega makes the distinction in her Facebook post, actually she foreshadows your kind of thinking: “I didn’t say attacking Jews. I said attacking Zionism. Let some tell it, an attack on Zionism is an attack on Jews. It’s anti-semetic, so they say.” Even Abraham Socher comments on her distinction in his article “Karega-Mason’s Facebook Posts Anti-Semitic” March 4, 2016. Can we not say anything about a group of people? Specifically a group of people in power? IF anything, this should have provoked more of a conversation, than a condemnation.

    Is the morally correct response to “racism”, a “racist” individual, perceived “racist” comments, (or perhaps what we really want to say is dissenting opinion) to ostracize/expel/silence? Especially if the discourse is found on a personal platform… and then; do people deserve to have their own views? Where else can they express them if not amongst a group of (facebook) friends. Is Facebook a public or private platform? Is Facebook a private platform if you elect to follow or be “friends” with people?

    This article feels too curt, unprovocative, and un-explorative. I think you’d be doing yourself and your community a favor if you revisit it with a little more honesty, thought, and consideration (and accurate summarization) of all sides involved. Unless that kind of thinking has no place at a liberal institution!

    What are Oberlin’s “rights” when it comes to firing a professor with challenging views?

    Is this about comparing instances of anti-semitism?

    My own motives are not to vindicate Joy Karega, nor admonish her further. I think Oberlin deserves more understanding than this.

  2. Man with the Axe on December 10th, 2018 7:41 AM

    I’m always suspicious of people who are “anti-Zionist” when they don’t have any skin in the Israel-Palestinian game. Why does this person, who is not personally connected to the conflict, choose to get exercised about Israel’s supposed crimes when there are so many other horrors in the world that we read about every day? Why didn’t she choose to devote herself to China’s treatment of Tibet, or Iran’s crimes against the Baha’is, or ISIS’s treatment of the Yazidis, or the Russian incursion into Ukraine, or all the problems of Africa, or the horrors of life in Venezuela, or, well, you get the picture.

    I have to wonder: Why does she focus on the one state that asserts a right to a homeland for the Jews, and decide that this is the one place that deserves her condemnation? Why is she okay with dozens of countries that limit full citizenship to Muslims, but can’t seem to stand that one country would do the same for Jews?

    Are you so certain that antisemitism is not the underlying impetus to so much of the anti-Zionism that we see from people who are not directly involved in the outcome of that conflict?

  3. Sam on December 12th, 2018 10:51 PM

    To “anonymous”:

    It is disappointing that you resort to personal attacks upon the writer, particularly when you claim to be seeking “consideration…of all sides involved.”

    Your entire response rests on the claim that Joy Karega is not anti-Jewish but just anti-Zionist. The only evidence for this claim that you provide is the fact that this is what Karega says in her defense. Is this a reasonable statement?

    Joy Karega claimed that then-President Obama, and all other US presidents, work for and are controlled by Jews. She also posted an unflattering picture, claimed to be of Jacob Rothschild, with text stating “My family is worth 500 trillion dollars. We own nearly every central bank in the world. We financed both sides of every war since Napoleon. We own your news, the media, your oil and your government.” (It should be noted that 500 trillion dollars is more than 25 times the GNP of the entire United States.)

    I don’t think it is possible to seriously argue that these claims of hers are not antisemitic, but just anti-Zionist. For one thing, neither even mentions Israel. Her defense that she is just anti-Zionist is clearly nonsensical.

    I also notice that you didn’t disagree with the writer’s statement that if Karega was making neo-Nazi white-supremacist posts Oberlin would have been right to fire her. Since Oberlin once cancelled classes because one student mistook a person wrapped in a blanket for a KKK member, I think it obvious that a faculty member posting pro-KKK propaganda would not be widely defended by Oberlin students. It is shocking that at Oberlin, anti-Jewish bigotry is acceptable.

  4. Ummmmmm..... on December 14th, 2018 10:58 AM

    This paper in the recent past past has published material blaming Jews for the antiSemitic murder of Jews, libelling Israel as “apartheid”, assertions that antiSemitism discussions are distracting Oberlin from “larger” problems, and even subsequent to widespread knowledge of her opinions, expressions of “respect” for Dr Karega’s “scholarship” and “activism”. We have had people wringing their hands in print, worried that Dr Karega’s “criticisms of Israeli politics” were misinterpreted, and a terrible concern over her academic freedom. One can find columns in which the concern about overt antiSemitism on campus is denounced as being somehow in opposition to Black Lives Matter. Such material is enough to make any thoughtful person weep. It is heartening, therefore, that this paper will also print on occasion a plain denunciation, by a student no less, of an obvious campus antiSemite.

    This expression of commitment to the free exchange of ideas, however deranged, is laudable, but one wonders why there is any debate at all, on a University campus, as to whether or not Dr Karega is an antiSemite, and whether or not this is an important or a trivial thing in an Academic. Are there any other paranoid and genocidal delusions that we should treat with this level of deference?

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