Duke publisher bias
The recent article and commentary about Duke University Press and its publication of books with anti-Semitic propositions is a shanda – a disgrace.
If an individual author attempts to selectively demonize and deligitimize the only Jewish state in the world – Israel – one of the world’s great democracies, that discourse is almost always anti-Semitic, regardless of who writes such statements and or who publishes them.
The fact that Duke University Press has selectively and repeatedly published books, a periodical and materials that perpetuate such demonization and deligitimization is also a shanda, likely standing in sharp contrast to core Duke University ethical values and mission.
As detailed in the articles, Duke University Press has multiple staff that promote an anti-Israel agenda publicly and privately, and many appear to attempt to use their Duke Press affiliation in this agenda. The fact that multiple members of the Duke Faculty Advisory Board that is charged with oversight of the Duke University Press also have publicly and privately promoted an anti-Israel agenda shows bias at even higher levels.
Were conflict of interest policies violated? Were disclosures made? Is there any collusion between some members of the Press, Advisory Board and anti-Israel activists? Is it OK for a University Press to become a advocacy tool under the ruse of “free speech”? These recent reports demand a comprehensive, independent review of Duke University Press and its policies, procedures and actions concerning Israel.
Athena’s empty arm
The updating of civic logos in Raleigh and Durham reminded me of the updating of the Chapel Hill Town seal in 1989.
The original town seal, adopted in the 1930s, featured Athena the goddess of wisdom, with her symbolic accoutrements, the spear and shield (as well as the goddess of wisdom Athena is the goddess of tactical warfare). In 1989, the then mayor in a stunningly meaningless gesture demonstrating his ignorance of the Greek classical world, disarmed the goddess, declaring her spear to be too warlike for the shy, gentle, innocent, citizens of the town.
Now, instead of standing prepared to defend her citizens, she stands with her empty arm and hand upraised as if “flipping the bird” to the citizens of Chapel Hill and the world. I am sure there are some citizens of the town who would agree with this interpretation.
Robert L. Porreca
Our response to violence
The Nov. 2 Herald-Sun carried two stories about Christian pastors, and about their different responses to violence.
One was a news story about a Christian pastor who fired his gun at a man who had broken into his church’s office and who was fleeing in a car. The pastor said that he felt the need for a gun because “when you’re responsible for a lot of people, you want to make sure that they’re taken care of, and I feel that’s my personal responsibility.” His reaction is understandable.
The other was an editorial in which another Christian pastor described how, weaponless along with other pastors, she knelt praying as they formed a protective wall for townsfolk who were being confronted by heavily armed, chanting, anti-semitic, right-wing Neo-Nazi agitators in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is a less common reaction.
What should be our response to violence?
For Christians, one story in scriptures stands out. A band of hostile, armed guards comes to arrest Jesus when he’s praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter, Jesus’ right hand man, who vowed never to abandon his master, draws a weapon and strikes one of the attackers cutting off his ear.
While he loves and trusts Peter dearly, Jesus tells him to put the weapon away, saying in effect that there is a preferred non-violent way to deal with armed threats, though it is one that may come at considerable personal cost.
Jesus probably foresaw that his advocating non-violence, like his commandment to love one’s enemies, would be met with skepticism, and that many would see it as impractical and lacking in good common sense. Over the next few days Jesus would go on to demonstrate the high personal price extracted by his own non-violent response – much to the consternation of his followers.
Those who hazard accepting at face value this challenge of not responding violently taught by the one whom Christians call the “Prince of Peace,” are asked to relinquish the counterfeit sense of security that comes from trusting in weapons. To those who do is given a peace which “the world cannot give.”