Turkish lobby: We were blacklisted

The Minnesota Daily stood up for censorship in its Monday editorial.
  • Bruce Fein and David Saltzman - Turkish American Legal Defense Fund
December 07, 2010

Contrary to your insinuation in a Dec. 6 editorial, “An unreliable source,” the Turkish Coalition of America’s complaint against the University of Minnesota does not question the authority of academic departments to evaluate sources of information according to intelligible, evenhandedly applied educational standards, and, to make those evaluations available to students.

The “unreliable websites” blacklist concocted by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies — unique in the annals of United States pedagogy — betrayed no earmarks of process other than hostility toward a particular viewpoint endorsed by such acclaimed Middle East scholars as Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton. The list did not remotely satisfy any known form of instruction or evenhanded educational standard. CHGS Director Bruno Chaouat figuratively marked the websites with a “scarlet letter,” forbidding students from questioning CHGS’ “infallibility” and stunting the development of critical thinking. The standards for listing websites as “unreliable” were unintelligible, listing a site as a “strange mix of fact and opinion.” That statement would seem to fit your editorial like a glove.

Websites were provided no explanation for “scarlet letter” designations.

There was no opportunity to respond or appeal. Listing decisions were made anonymously, secretly and without notice to the allegedly offending website.

The CHGS blacklist was no more educational than the Vatican’s Index of Forbidden Books.

The Minnesota Daily did not do its homework. But even more shameful is its defense of counter-educational indoctrination and censorship as hallmarks of academic freedom.

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