www.nytimes.com /2024/04/12/opinion/academic-freedom-israel-gaza-nyu.html

Opinion | Academic Freedom and the Israel-Gaza War

The New York Times 7-9 minutes 4/12/2024

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To the Editor:

Re “Political Dissent Is Under Attack on Campus,” by Paula Chakravartty and Vasuki Nesiah (Opinion guest essay, April 8):

As an N.Y.U. alumnus and an academic, I am disturbed by the authors’ implication that at N.Y.U. it is solely the Palestinian voice in the complex tragedy that is being suppressed.

Academic freedom requires academic responsibility, which is lacking when it is suggested that the suffering of the Palestinian people is the only acceptable topic for outrage, and it is assumed that sufficient balance is provided by a single sentence noting opposition to antisemitism.

The problem is also seen in the failure to mention the incidents of disruption, threats and physical intimidation at N.Y.U. and elsewhere that have effectively shut down any discourse other than condemnation of Israel.

Academic freedom must be earned every day through a commitment to promoting discussion from multiple points of view and sources. That freedom, already under attack, will be lost when the public perceives that it serves only one side.

Ted Besmann
Columbia, S.C.

To the Editor:

As a Jew, a former dean and professor in higher education, and a passionate advocate for academic freedom and free speech, I applaud Paula Chakravartty and Vasuki Nesiah for their courageous and compelling essay.

Tragically, universities have become more beholden to their donors, as corporations are to their stockholders, than their faculty, students and staff. If people can’t be free to express unpopular opinions on college campuses, where is it safe to do so?

I learned to think critically and question the actions of my country’s leaders regarding the Vietnam War while a student at the University of Massachusetts. I arrived there in 1964 as an innocent conformist and left with a healthy skepticism about my government’s statements and actions because of some outspoken faculty and my fellow students.

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Thanks to that eye-opening experience, I have been a political activist for many years. During these scary times, as we drift away from democracy and toward authoritarianism, we need institutions of higher education to be the place for the free expression of ideas even if they lose a few close-minded donors.

Allen Davis
Dublin, N.H.

To the Editor:

The problem with academics’ defense of free speech is it’s years too late. Where were they when conservatives and those with different viewpoints were being fired and chased off campus?

Andrea Economos
Hartsdale, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Professors Paula Chakravartty and Vasuki Nesiah write that “besides Israel, only the United States is capable of stopping” the war in Gaza.

Hamas started the war on Oct. 7 and still holds hostage those captured Israelis its members haven’t murdered. Why the professors — and the students whose hate-fueled rhetoric they champion — deprive the terror group of agency is puzzling.

(Rabbi) Avi Shafran
New York
The writer is the director of public affairs at Agudath Israel of America.


Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “TV Networks to Urge Biden and Trump to Debate” (Business, April 10):

The television networks’ efforts to air a debate between President Biden and Donald Trump are strictly for selfish motives. As pointed out in the article, these debates draw a large audience, and the networks are always looking for ways to attract viewers.

Mr. Trump has no interest in discussing issues and policies, and instead simply wants a platform to engage in childish name-calling and disparagement of others. His campaign approach to date has simply been vote-for-me-or-else. While this may be a recipe for entertainment and substantial viewership, there is no redeeming value for voters.

Eric Schroeder
Bethesda, Md.

To the Editor:

President Biden should definitely debate Donald Trump and use the opportunity of speaking before a huge captive audience to debunk once and for all Mr. Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election being stolen.

A large majority of Republicans believe that lie. So many people believing something that preposterous poses a very real threat to the future of our free elections.

But here are the facts, which are compelling and, I believe, practically indisputable. Within a few weeks after the 2020 election, Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results in the courts — both state and federal — had been rejected by at least 86 judges, 38 of them appointed by Republicans and several appointed by Mr. Trump himself.

Top officials in every state — a majority of them Republicans — said there was no evidence of any fraud that would have changed the results in their states.

The president should have been conveying this repeatedly for the past three years, but better late than never. Hopefully there’s still time to save an endangered species: American democracy.

Bobby Braddock


A group of women, seated and standing in a grand hall, most wearing white and red.
A group of women who joined the U.S. defense work force during World War II to ease a labor shortage received a Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday.Credit...Kenny Holston/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “World War II’s Rosies, Heroes on Home Front, Get Their Gold Medal” (news article, April 12), about the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to the nation’s “Rosie the Riveters”:

These women took jobs in the aircraft and munitions industries not only for patriotic reasons but also because such skilled, relatively high-paid work had been barred to them before World War II, and they needed the money.

Many of them were mothers of young children, and for the first (and, to date, only) time, they had access to federally funded, high-quality child care, which enabled them to take full-time jobs. These services closed as soon as the war was over.

Recent legislation (the 2024 Child Care and Development Fund Final Rule) has increased federal funding for child care, which, in turn, has improved access and quality, but it is still far from universal in the U.S.

If Congress truly wanted to honor the Rosies, it would authorize and fund universal public child care, once and for all.

Sonya Michel
Silver Spring, Md.
The writer is professor emerita of history and women’s and gender studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the author of “Children’s Interests/Mothers’ Rights: The Shaping of America’s Child Care Policy.”


Donald Trump’s face, in the foreground, is blurred, and an ornate chandelier appears clearly in the background.
Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Why Some Billionaires Will Back Trump” (column, April 5):

Paul Krugman poses the urgent question, with regard to lower taxes for billionaires, “After all, how much would the extra money really matter to people whose lifestyles are already incredibly lavish?”

The movie “Key Largo” provides the answer. The character played by Humphrey Bogart asks Johnny Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, “He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?”

“Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right. I want more!”

“Will you ever get enough?” another character asks.

“Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t,” Rocco replies.

Jim Coddington
New York

A version of this article appears in print on April 13, 2024, Section


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