We interrupt whatever I was going to say next for one of those “What the hell were they thinking?” BDS moments, this one from Lisa Duggan, the incoming President of the American Studies Association.
When we last left the new leader of this once unknown, now infamous, academic organization she was celebrating the “dialog” triggered by the boycott she and others forced onto the organization by “going to ground” and refusing to give interviews (lest she end up on record turning herself into as big an embarrassment as her predecessor Curtis “One has to start somewhere” Marez).
She made a brief appearance in the comment section of a short-lived, thoughtful insider blog to accuse anyone critical of her and the organization she leads of homophobia. And when challenged to defend this ludicrous accusation, she once again chose to make herself scarce by returning to the quiet of her ivy bunker at NYU.
But a strange thing happens whenever BDSers think they are only talking to each other. For as any readers of the incomparable Elder of Ziyon blog know, Duggan recently made an online appearance (spotted by the equally incomparable Barbara of Stop BDS at Park Slope fame) where she squealed with glee at an upcoming Israel-is-wrong-about-everything event at NYU (scheduled – as usual – to start at sundown on Friday and finish by sundown Saturday).
The event is meant to build on what they call an “unprecedented wave of public dialog in response to the American Studies Association’s recent endorsement of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions,” (ignoring, of course, the fact that most of this response consists of the group being condemned by a galaxy of fellow academics).
And to celebrate such a “wave of public dialog,” the woman who leads that organization urged followers of her Facebook page to “PLEASE DO NOT post or circulate the flyer. We are trying to avoid press, protestors and public attention.”
Where to start?
First off, you have another illustration of what “dialog” means to the average BDSer: an event where they have total control over every microphone, ensuring that even if a critic finds out about their event, decides to break the Sabbath and overcomes whatever other barriers they have erected to ensure homogeneity of thought, the most they can expect is to be given a minute to question a panel in lockstep agreement about everything and an audience ready to shout down those who ask anything too challenging.
Then you have someone who helped drag a once-respectable organization into the shitter, allegedly to “start a discussion,” urging her followers to keep their own conversations secret, lest they be overheard by those they clearly perceive as enemies (which includes the press and public).
Finally, there’s that weird “Are you drooling yet?” throwaway that makes the whole posting sound like something my eleven-year-old would impulsively cough up onto Facebook (“Meet me after school so you can drool over my Pokémon import cards, but don’t Joe Pimply-face or Fatso Mulligan.”)
While I got some heat back when I was asking whether ASA should still be considered an academic organization, I think a better question to ask is whether the group’s leaders are actually grown-ups.
No doubt, once the sun goes down this Shabbat Lisa Duggan and her like-minded allies will spend the next twenty-four hours congratulating themselves for their courage, wisdom and virtue, safe from the prying eyes of anyone who does not live on Planet BDS. But one wonders how the rest of the members of the American Studies Association (especially the 80% or so who either voted against or didn’t vote at all to allow Marez, Dugan et al to speak in the name of their field) feel about being represented by people of such dubious adulthood.
Over the years, I’ve actually met a number of people who were or still are members of ASA. Those who left did so because the group was starting to represent different definitions of the field as well as prioritizing politics over scholarship. ASA supporters like to conflate these two issues, accusing anyone who disagrees with their politics as hostile to diversity. But as the boycott and the behavior of Duggan, Marez, and other BDSers demonstrates, the greatest threat to the field comes not from dread Zionists overhearing what they’re saying, or critics of diversity, but from a group of incompetent radicals who are boycotters first, American Studies professors second, and grown-ups a distant third.