Contributed from New South Wales
University of Sydney’s sacking of Dr Tim Anderson has been rightly condemned as an attack on academic freedom and therefore an infringement of democratic rights.
This is the reason why more than thirty academics at the university put their names to a letter opposing the action on the University.
Anderson’s crime is, that in material distributed to students, there was criticism of the policy and actions of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians. There was a critical piece that had a Nazi Swastika imposed over the Israeli flag, which was part on the argument that the collective treatment meted out to the Palestinian population has some similarities with what happened to Jews during the Third Reich.
Elements who have long been wanting Dr Tim Anderson dealt with for some time, jumped on this to cry antisemitism. Any criticism of Israeli government actions carries this accusation.
Bowing to the Zionist lobby and figures closely connected to the Coalition government and those supporting the American led policy of stepped up confrontation, as the strategy for maintaining the world order of American dominance, the University acted as it did.
Leading the charge was the university Provost Stephen Garton, who accused Anderson of “offensive conduct.” A panel was set up to hear the case, made up of Janice McLeay, a former industrial relations commissioner, and “dispute management specialist” Professor Philippa Pattison, the university’s vice-chancellor of education. They both voted against Anderson, despite Garton’s track roecord of public political hostility to Anderson.
Not mentioned, is the university’s shift towards compromising itself, by shifting towards accepting the penetration by think tanks, partial to a particular point of view. The most important one is the US Studies Center founded in 2006, which channels US and Australian government funding to the university. The university administration has sold itself for a fistful of dollars.
This is seeing a transformation away from real academic research and scholarship, towards becoming a political propaganda tool. Inherent in this, is the need to silence other voices.
The action taken against Dr Tim Anderson is part of this silencing.
Dissenting third panelist, Dr Neil Anderson, called out the decision made by the other two for what it is. The senior lecturer at the university, warned of the implications for academic freedom and the management’s use of “minimalist criteria,” based on vague claims of “offensive” and “inappropriate,” to sack an academic.
Anderson warned: “This censorial abuse will send a cold chill through the University of Sydney. Other academics will worry that they might be expelled if a manager considers something they say as “inappropriate” or “offensive.”