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Mideast studies chief at UA suspended after canceling presentation from speaker known for criticizing Islam

FAYETTEVILLE -- The director of a Middle East studies center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville was suspended Wednesday from his administrative duties after canceling a Skype presentation from a speaker known for remarks critical of Islam.

Tom Paradise, a geosciences professor who joined the university faculty in 2000, dropped scholar Phyllis Chesler from an academic symposium on honor-based violence in Western countries held April 13-14 at UA, university spokesman Mark Rushing said.

"The decision to disinvite a participant for his or her views is not reflective of the values and practices of our institution," Rushing said in a statement Wednesday. "The decision, made without informing leadership, has resulted in the director's responsibilities for administrative and operational control being suspended pending an internal review focused on the circumstances that led to this decision."

Rushing said in a phone interview that Paradise is not suspended as a faculty member. His faculty salary of $114,512 is unaffected, but his compensation as director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies -- which over the course of a year would be an additional $28,628 -- is being withheld pending a review done by the dean's office of UA's J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Rushing said. Todd Shields is dean of the college.

Chesler, a professor emeritus of psychology with City University of New York, has written about honor killings and violence for outlets including the New York Post and Breitbart.

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A report published by the U.S. Department of Justice defined honor-based violence as "a mechanism to maintain or regain a family's honor by punishing or eliminating girls and women whose actions invite rumors of sexual impropriety or disobedience."

Chesler was to give a lunchtime talk titled Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings, according to materials prepared in advance of the symposium sponsored by UA's King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies and the UA School of Law.

Emails released in response to a public disclosure request from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette show UA faculty before the event asking that the center withdraw its sponsorship of the symposium. An email states that faculty members earlier had asked the center to "provide, via Skype, a qualified speaker to follow Chesler's remarks," with the request "deemed not feasible," according to the email.

In an email, faculty members cited Chesler's writings on "the ultra-right Breitbart forum." They also cited her role as co-author of a pamphlet, The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam, noting that the other co-author, Robert Spencer, has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "one of America's most prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists."

Three UA faculty members with the center -- Mohja Kahf, Ted Swedenburg and Joel Gordon -- wrote in an April 7 email that they "cannot countenance official Center endorsement (without some protest noted) of the participation on campus in an academic forum of the kind of hate speech that has been included and therefore tacitly accepted as part of the discourse."

Chesler contends in her writing on honor-based violence that Islam plays a key role in attacks taking place in the United States but that some scholars have ignored this.

"The whitewashing of Muslim honor killings in America has seeped into academia," began an opinion essay from Chesler published last year in the New York Post.

Breitbart last week reported that the university canceled Chesler's presentation, and an April 26 note from Gordon, Kahf and Swedenburg to Shields, the college dean, and others stated: "We wish to note that we stand by our decision to protest Chesler's participation and our request that the KFC disavow formal support for her inclusion."

The email, with the subject line "Honor Symposium Blowback," went on to cite "the blog storm that resulted" as well as "a wave of emails," including "abusive" messages.

The note, written before the suspension, concluded: "We salute the KFC and the UA for taking a courageous stand supporting reasoned academic discourse. We are glad to be part of a faculty that does not shy away from complex, controversial issues while insisting that such issues be addressed by real experts, those who search for nuance rather than those who castigate religious, ethnic, or national communities in broad smears."

Rushing, in his statement announcing the suspension, said: "We believe that the cancellation was an isolated incident and not indicative of a broader approach toward one ideological viewpoint. However, in an abundance of caution, we are actively working to reinforce an inclusive approach to special events with the goal of maintaining an environment where a diversity of ideas is welcomed."

Metro on 05/04/2017

Comments

merlin749 says...

they also need to suspend, and censure, those 3 faculty members that want to suppress free speech. They don't care about women and how Islam treats them, apparently, and don't want to hear the truth, or even someone's opinion contrary to theirs.

Posted 4 May 2017, 8:55 a.m. Suggest removal

TimberTopper says...

merlin, did you read and understand what you read? Or do you have a problem with one or both?

Posted 4 May 2017, 9:55 a.m. Suggest removal

RaylanGivens says...

She might have upset some snowflakes who might not find it back to their safe place, so this is probably a good idea

Posted 4 May 2017, 10:05 a.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Typical f'ing libs. When they have no intellectual basis to debate a differing point of view, they scream "hate speech" from the top of their lungs and run with their tail tucked between their legs. Typical f'ing libs.
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And do we really need a Middle East studies center? How many of these study centers are taxpayers helping fund? Is there a Ugandan studies center? A Caribbean Islands study center? An Underwater Basket Weaving studies center? A GBLTQIAXYZ studies center? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted 4 May 2017, 10:11 a.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

Raylan,

Some of us feminist snowflakes also do not like how women are treated in most Muslim countries. There are many well respect journalists and feminists who have written on the issue. This person was disinvited because she co-wrote a book with a somebody who has been accused of religious slurs against all Muslims. The mistreatment of women should not be whitewashed, but we also should not paint all 1.6 billion Muslims as the same. It is a tricky issue.

Posted 4 May 2017, 11:22 a.m. Suggest removal

NoUserName says...

Seems to me universities have dis-invited commencement speakers for particular messages/beliefs before. Is there some manual I can go to for when it is correct to dis-invite and when it is not?

Posted 4 May 2017, 11:38 a.m. Suggest removal

haphog says...

TimberTopper always seems to attempt to talk down to anyone else's comments. I agree with Merlin. I read of the idiotic behavior at UC Berkley; this must not be allowed at our state university. The lib snowflakes can't stand free speech or anyone who may enlighten them or at least have the opportunity to enlighten them.

Posted 4 May 2017, 12:39 p.m. Suggest removal

mrcharles says...

They say the hoofprint of the magic flying horse is on the dome of the rock. Who am I to question a sincere religious belief in a country of religious tolerance. They do respect Jesus and have their own chapter on his mother.

As to dress codes and religion , I do note the females of the giant churches On the Highway, seem to have a manner of dress that you can tell they are well respected by their head of their family. This is not irreverence, for if you do not have rules of what you wear , like clothes of two thread types or plow in the wrong way, or allow dwarfs and damaged genitalia men into the lords place their will be no place safe from anarchy.

Boy just think of the furor if Billy Graham was not allowed to speak after his views on jews were known. Or Rev Floyd of springdale was denied to talk after saying gays were with the devil.

I will call the UA and ask to speak , being a follower of teapot that circles the sun .

I do commend him though for taking this action. He got the fking cons to wet their britches and make up their usual fake truth . There a tip of the hat and the way of the usual finger to him.

Posted 4 May 2017, 1:36 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Would someone, anyone, fluent in Crazy please translate mrcharles?
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Hey Pop - Nah, you're wrong. This person was disinvited because some doofus on a power trip made an attack of the 1st Amendment.
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It's truly, truly sad that colleges and universities, once places where open discussion of various and varying points of view were championed, are now places where the 1st Amendment is under major assault. Even Bernie Sanders is saying it's wrong and must stop.

Posted 4 May 2017, 2:55 p.m. Suggest removal

3WorldState1 says...

How many "liberal" people do you hear invited to conservative or religious universities? Almost none. Many people from different views speak at these "snowflake" universities. But sometimes outrageous speakers are strongly opposed. Not a big deal. Personally, I think you should let them speak.
But, until Liberty university or the other "colleges" (i.e. Bible schools), allow other viewpoints, and extreme viewpoints, other than the ones that validate their own beliefs, you little crybaby republicans can quit crying the croc tears. Such little babies. You are moaning about something "liberal" colleges are doing 1% percent of the time, when your own kind won't allow the same thing 99% of the time. Hello!!!!
Make America Smart Again.

Posted 4 May 2017, 3:05 p.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

Packman,

I sort of agree with you on this one, but many people are a little nervous after the president wanted to ban Muslims.

I think Mr. Charles is talking about is the giant church in North Little Rock where the women have to wear prairie dresses. I would rather wear a head covering than one of those damn dresses. They are damn ugly and oppressive to women.

Posted 4 May 2017, 3:11 p.m. Suggest removal

LR1955 says...

Prairie Dresses !?!? LOL Popmom

Posted 4 May 2017, 4:56 p.m. Suggest removal

gohogs17 says...

Isn't it so mature of these libs responding to those who oppose their views, by calling them names, ridiculing them, and denigrating them every possible way? And they speak in terms that usually don't make sense to others. Freedom of speech they call it.

Posted 4 May 2017, 6:20 p.m. Suggest removal

gohogs17 says...

packman: I'm glad someone else sees the absurdity of mcharles. I've never been able to make sense of his ramblings except to wonder in the end what he is even talking about. I wonder sometimes if even he knows?

Posted 4 May 2017, 6:26 p.m. Suggest removal

mrcharles says...

Little temple on the Prairie. Besides st Paul didn't write those there them books of Titus & Timothy that are so anti female...so don't blame him for the towers of bable on the highway.

Saw the Prairie dress teenage crowd possessed by sea bass type lesser imps reading cosmo the magazine and laughing at Barnes & noble

All this division will go away once gop Congress & the great and powerful orange man make the by law the One True book of their one thought mandatory & ewe all can be good little mindless robots.

How can you trust a religion that will not allow a little wine for thy stomachs sake?

Posted 4 May 2017, 6:33 p.m. Suggest removal

caspertherat says...

I gotta agree with Packman on this one. And, I have also discovered that there is nothing more intolerant than the tolerant left. They only like free speech when it is speech with which they agree.

Posted 4 May 2017, 6:35 p.m. Suggest removal

RaylanGivens says...

If you combine 3WorldState and mrcharles' brains you could have a split pea

Posted 4 May 2017, 6:55 p.m. Suggest removal

arkateacher54 says...

Liberty, like pretty much every conservative university and college, is a private school and can invite or disinvite anybody the want or don't want to. The UA is a public institution and SHOULD feel an obligation to provide a platform for truly diverse points of view. But like most all public universities, it is under control of folks whose idea of diversity ranges from a good distance left of center to the extreme far left end of the spectrum. I fear this country will soon become a one party nation, once us old codgers die off. The election of Donald Trump was a hiccup in the march leftward.

Posted 4 May 2017, 7:02 p.m. Suggest removal

WhododueDiligence says...

What 3WorldState1 stated.

Posted 4 May 2017, 7:48 p.m. Suggest removal

Packman says...

Hey gohogs - Communications professionals stress the importance of effective communications. Different communication styles and techniques certainly have their place. But effective communications are those that use the fewest common words to communicate a distinct message. Taken in context, mrcharles uses the least effective technique of all. I stopped reading his missives long ago. Any writing style that loses audience for whatever reason is woefully ineffective. Woefully.

Posted 4 May 2017, 8:57 p.m. Suggest removal

PopulistMom says...

OMG. Are Mr. Charles and I the only ones who are familiar with some of the Christian cults in Arkansas? The Nazarenes don't allow the women to wear pants; they must wear long skirts. Consequently, women really cannot participate in sports. The women also are not allowed to cut their hair. All they can do is go to church and pray. Many other sects are similar. No makeup, no drinking, no gambling. So many of these people are obese because there is no fun except eating. Some of the others you read about in the paper having sex with minors.

Posted 4 May 2017, 9:15 p.m. Suggest removal

TravisBickle says...

And it was Skype??!! LOL! What a moron!

Posted 4 May 2017, 9:40 p.m. Suggest removal

mozarky2 says...

mrcharles reminds me of the old codger Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles:
When Obama was inaugurated, he shouted, in typical frontier gibberish,
"The new president is a CLANG"!

Posted 4 May 2017, 9:40 p.m. Suggest removal

ARMNAR says...

mrcharles is brilliant and hilarious.

Not surprised by who doesn't get him.

Posted 4 May 2017, 10:29 p.m. Suggest removal

3WorldState1 says...

So if your a private college you don't have to have different points of view exposed to your kids? That makes a lot of sense.
I stand by my previous statement. And the fact no one responded to it makes me believe you have no good argument.
The only reason why slavery was abolished and women can own homes is because of our secular gov. Not from Christianity.

Posted 5 May 2017, 7:34 a.m. Suggest removal

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