Thursday, May 5, 2011

McCarthyism in America

The City University of New York has refused to give playwright Tony Kushner a planned honorary degree because a member of its board of trustees objects to Kushner's views on Israel.

Now historian Ellen Schrecker of Yeshiva University is returning her CUNY honorary degree in protest, with a very pointed statement.  According to Salon, her statement reads in part:  "I received my honorary degree from CUNY because of my scholarship on the McCarthy period, when over one hundred professors (including at least fifteen from the New York City municipal colleges) lost their jobs for political reasons," writes Schrecker. "I assume that no one within CUNY’s Board of Trustees or administration wants a repeat of those dark days."

Justification for this response is inherent in the statement made by the objecting board member, who wrote in a New York Times oped that Kushner's "libelous statements against Israel were made by anyone outside the Jewish community, that person would be correctly labeled an anti-Semite."  This is precisely the kind of inflammatory charge that McCarthyism represented.

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