Now, Kushner's Critic Has His Freedom of Speech Threatened (UPDATED)

There's a move afoot -- led by the faculty of the City University of New York -- to force Jeffrey Wiesenfeld from the CUNY board. Wiesenfeld, it will be recalled, blocked John Jay College, part of the CUNY system, from granting the playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree, because of Kushner's views on Israel (he doesn't like Israel very much). Wiesenfeld's campaign was wrong (and subsequently reversed), but is this new situation much different? The faculty wants to purge the CUNY board of someone who has, by their lights, objectionable views, and who used his position as an appointed member of the CUNY board to advance those views.

Perhaps everyone in the CUNY universe should simply learn to live with objectionable views. And perhaps the CUNY board should consider whether it wants to turn Jeffrey Wiesenfeld into a free-speech martyr, just as Wiesenfeld tried to turn Tony Kushner into same.

UPDATE: This missive from one James Fallows came in over the transom a little while ago:

The obnoxious guy at CUNY is not having his "freedom of speech" threatened.

He's having his presence on the board called into question.  Freedom of speech is a right; membership on the board is a privilege.   FWIW.

Otherwise I think there is nothing we disagree about at this stage of history!

Point taken. Another point, mitigating all of this: What are the chances that the City University of New York would throw off a board member for being too pro-Israel?

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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