Some readers have no doubt heard about the dustup caused when CUNY declined to give a planned honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner based on the objections of board member Jeffrey Weisenfeld. Mr. Weisenfeld evidently objected to some of Kushner’s comments about Israeli policy, none of which (or at least none that I’ve run across) step outside the bounds of reasonable debate. Here’s Walt on the issue, and here’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Well, Jim Dwyer has a brief interview with Weisenfeld in this morning’s New York Times. I’ll let the text speak for itself:
I tried to ask a question about the damage done by a short, one-sided discussion of vigorously debated aspects of Middle East politics, like the survival of Israel and the rights of the Palestinians, and which side was more callous toward human life, and who was most protective of it.
But Mr. Wiesenfeld interrupted and said the question was offensive because “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.”
Equivalence between what and what? “Between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “People who worship death for their children are not human.”
Did he mean the Palestinians were not human? “They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history,” he said.
“Dehumanization” usually refers to a subtle process by which people’s humanity is implicitly degraded and erased. Nothing subtle here though.