The spirit of Howard Beach Comes to SUNY
In a major assault on academic freedom, Zionist forces have been trying to get Professor E. Fred Dube fired from the Africana Studies Department of the State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook, since 1983, when an Israeli visiting professor, Selwyn Troen, falsely accused Dube of anti-Semitism. Dube had included in his course description a discussion topic on political Zionism as a form of racism.
Under pressure from Zionists, including threats from the extremist Jewish Defense Organization, Stony Brook President John Marburger denied Dube’s tenure in 1985, despite student sit-ins and recommendations for tenure by two academic committees. Dube’s appeal was upheld by another committee, but now SUNY is again denying tenure to Dube, one of the spokespersons in the U.S. for the African National Congress of South Africa.
By Amiri Baraka
The statement denying Dr. Fred Dube tenure, signed by ex-Chancellor Wharton on his last day in office, is as ambiguous as it is cowardly.
Coming from a presumed responsible Black administrator, it nevertheless smacks of “Buckwheat” or “Birmingham” or “Step ‘n Fetchit” or any of the other recently revived Black submissive “Uncle Tom” images that are the legacy of Black chattel slavery in the U.S.
Africana Studies has both statements in response as well as questions:
1) The Dube debacle obviously signals a complete denial of academic freedom in SUNY. We cannot nor do we believe that other SUNY students, staff, faculty, or administrators will accept this.
Not only because to accept this would be spineless acquiescence to a neo-fascist trend that Reagan has drummed up throughout U.S. society; but how can Stony Brook be a “research university” if free inquiry is bridled by political reaction and academic “storm troopers” whose “gentility” consists of using bureaucracy rather than barbed wire to make Stony Brook an intellectual concentration camp.
2) We question how American education can be controlled and guided by the dictates of Israeli Imperialism.
Is Stony Brook an American university or an Israeli university?
To deny Dube tenure because he thought he had the right to use, as an academic discussion topic, the 1975 UN resolution that Zionism (i.e., Israeli Imperialism) is a form of racism, is to reveal an intellectual allegiance to the needs of Israeli Imperialism rather than American university students and the spirit of open inquiry which must animate a university if a society claims to be democratic.
3) To attack Prof. Dube in this way, overruling four legally constituted university committees of his peers and colleagues, is to subject Stony Brook’s Africana Studies Program and its students and staff to a racist and colleagues, is to subject Stony Brook’s Africana Studies Program and its students and staff to a racist Program double standard that raises the spectre of the racial bigotry reasserting itself at Howard Beach and Forsyth County.
No other program or department of the university would be subjected to such bigoted lack of regard. All traditional guidelines and relationships have been violated by administrators whose minds are so flawed and distorted by white supremacy that they have never approached the Africana Studies Program as a full academic functionary of SUNY.
The lack of a realistic budget, teaching and research resources, academic status as a full department, and the constant disregard shown toward us should have prepared us for an assault on Africana Studies’ black faculty and students who are apparently viewed as not qualified to receive the respect that serious scholars, artists, teachers and students obtain in all other sectors of the university.
The Lynching of Fred Dube. The Dube tenure decision really is to confirm that black professors, staff and students are still slaves who must “stay in their place” while SUNY administrators, bigots and racist politicians are still slave masters.
4) Zionism and apartheid. If indeed it has been Zionism (i.e., Israeli Imperialism) not religious vision, that has forced SUNY attacks on Fred Dube, the Africana Studies Program, black faculty, staff and students at SUNY, then there is no doubt it is racism. This has been shown.
Israeli Imperialism has long been in collusion with South African apartheid as one of the main weapons suppliers and trading partners. The fact that Dr. Dube is a leading member of the ANC banned and exiled from his own country, who has been imprisoned on South Africa’s notorious Robben Island, makes us almost certain that the linkages between apartheid and Israeli Imperialsm also exists here at Stony Brook to continue Dube’s torture and harassment.
5) Why did Neal and Wharton resign?
We also want to question and demand an investigation of why two Black administrators (one the highest ranking at Stony Brook), Homer Neal, then Provost, and Clifford Wharton, then Chancellor of the SUNY system, lend their names to this disgraceful denial of Dube’s academic status, thereby overturning the lawful decision made by Dube’s university peers, but further, in both cases, why did these two administrators immediately resign their positions after their part in this shameful attack?
How is it, for instance, that Wharton went from an $89,500 a year position as Chancellor of the SUNY system to a $500,000 a year position as head of the TIAA Retirement Fund?
6) We have requested that the New York state Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus initiate an independent investigation of the Dube affair and convene a full hearing at the Stony Brook campus as soon as possible to shed real light on the undermining of academic freedom and the Nazification of the SUNY system. All participants in the process including Drs. Wharton, Marburger and Neal will be asked to participate in the hearing.
We also, of course, support any actions that Prof. Dube sees as necessary.
Amiri Baraka is program director of Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.