From the New Yor Sun:

A grand jury yesterday indicted eight people on terrorism charges, among them Sami Amin Al-Arian, a professor of computer engineering at the University of South Florida. Mr. Al-Arian is a “Palestinian activist” who had come to be something of a cause celebre for those who beleive that any scrutiny of radical Muslims in America is the symptom of a nascent police state.

Mr. Al-Arian gained national attention after September 11, when videotaped comments calling for “Death to Israel” led his university employers to begin the process of attempting to fire him. His supporters claimed that he was being unfairly persecuted for his political beliefs and challenged his dismissal. […]

Prominent among Mr. Al-Arian’s defenders in his fight with the University of South Florida was “Officials at the University of South Florida…have started proceedings to fire him — essentially for being a fiery Palestinian activist who embarrasses them,” Mr. Kristof wrote in a March 1, 2002, column. “A university, even a country, becomes sterile when people are too intimidated to say things out of the mainstream.”  [“Under the Tampa Palms,” Editorial, New York Sun, February 21, 2003]

If Sami Amin Al-Arian had been videotaped publicly calling for “Death to Gays” or “Death to Blacks,” would the New York Times be rallying to defend his academic freedom. Doubtless the Times would take such statements to be “hate speech,” while “Death to Israel” is “protected discourse.”

In other words, the Times considers inciting hatred against Israelis acceptable in a university. Why? Presumably because that paper thinks it not necessarily unreasonable to cast Israel as an oppressor. “Hate speech,” in other words, is antagonistic speech the Times considers unreasonable.

What if the University of South Florida deems Mr. Al-Arian’s “Death to Israel” unreasonable? Apparently the Times allows only itself the privilege of passing such judgments.

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