Professor Rupp was not forthcoming with details when asked. “Peggy Shapiro’s name never came up,” he said. “The general topic came up. The historians decided that they didn’t want to sponsor the issue.” When asked why, he refused to say, noting only that “the university is involved in challenging issues” — issues about which Mr. Rupp would not elaborate.
Yet the history department was not the only entity to back off. The Jewish Federation rescinded its invitation as well. According to information Mrs. Eisenstein was privy to, there was concern on the part of the JCRC that, irrespective of the event’s educational merits, without the partnership of the history and political science departments, the event could face problems, specifically with respect to its potential to set off controversy given issues at the university.
Professor Eisenstein contends that the Federation was soured on the idea when Richard Rupp notified him that the flyer promoting the event had to be sent to university administrator Wes Lukoshus “for university approval.” “They wanted to review the flyer to make sure it was politically correct, which I don’t know what that meant,” Eisenstein contended. When contacted, Lukoshus said that he and his department “only approve the use of the university logo, not the content of the particular fliers.”
However, “the main reason I’ve heard [for canceling] is that they were afraid or concerned that it would offend Muslims,” Eisenstein claimed. He further contended that a faculty vote aimed at making it difficult, if not impossible, for someone to speak on campus, is unprecedented. “Any faculty member or group who wanted to invite someone [to speak on campus], it was just done,” he said.
As for the “issues” that no one contacted about this case will discuss? Professor Eisenstein has been involved in a long-running battle with the Muslim Students Association and some faculty members angered by his religiosity, his conservatism, and his determination to confront Islamic jihad. The Muslim Students Association, along with several faculty members from his department, filed nine separate harassment claims against him for Facebook postings demanding justice for the killings of black Christians in Nigeria and alleged comments he made in class. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a free-speech advocacy group, came to his defense.
All nine charges were dropped after a three-and-a-half month investigation.
Eisenstein believes lingering animosity played a large part in the history department’s decision not to support Ms. Shapiro’s appearance and the Federation’s decision to back off as well. “The Muslim students and their liberal supporters are using me as a conduit to demonize any criticism of Islam and Muslims and their activities around the world,” he contends. Mrs. Eisenstein agreed, noting that the Federation was “very concerned that Shapiro would not say anything to antagonize Muslims, because it would be like they were aligning with [my husband,]” she contends.
Whatever the real issues are, one thing is certain: some combination of anger, fear, revenge and/or pressure from a combination of Muslim students and Purdue Calumet faculty members has prevented Ms. Shapiro from appearing on campus on March 26th, and perhaps the foreseeable future as well. And whatever other conclusions one wishes to draw, Professor Eisenstein is spot on when it comes to one particular criticism. “What really bothers me about the Jewish Federation is that they backed out of a talk about the Holocaust. There is nothing about it that you should not be fighting to have on campus,” he said.
Among Purdue University faculty members, as well as officials at the Jewish Federation, the courage and determination needed to present the history of the Holocaust–regardless of who might take umbrage with such a presentation–is in critically short supply.
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