Hundreds back Kilgore

Hundreds back Kilgore

CHAMPAIGN — Faculty support for James Kilgore continued to build at the University of Illinois on Monday as a group of his backers hand-delivered to administrators a petition demanding that his employment contract be extended. Also, an advisory body approved a resolution endorsing principles of academic freedom and employment equality.

On Monday morning, about 25 faculty gathered in front of the Swanlund Administrative Building, home to the provost's and chancellor's offices, and delivered the petition, with its list of 310 names, to both offices.

We want your take, whether it's letting Tom Kacich know about it here or with a Letter to the Editor here

In the afternoon, the Academic Senate, made up of faculty, students and some staff, OK'd a nonbinding resolution that, although it did not mention Kilgore by name, was brought forward after administrators reportedly told him his employment contract would not be renewed at the end of the summer.

Kilgore did not participate in the delivery of the petitions, but he did attend the senate's afternoon meeting. He did not speak at the meeting and declined to be interviewed by The News-Gazette.

Ever since The News-Gazette published commentary earlier this year about Kilgore's past as a member of a 1970s radical group, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the UI has been under pressure to get rid of him, said William Sullivan, professor of landscape architecture. Sullivan organized the petition drive to reverse the decision to terminate Kilgore's employment.

"In America, we have a system of justice that holds people accountable for their actions, metes out punishment, and sometimes encourages rehabilitation. Our system of justice does not include paying your debt to society and then being released from prison in order to face retrial by a local newspaper. It does not include being resentenced in the court of public opinion," he said.

Kilgore has held several nontenured positions on campus in recent years.

Last week, UI Provost Ilesanmi Adesida said no final decision has been made on Kilgore's appointment. A committee appointed by Adesida is expected to review the case along with general policies and procedures on how the campus hires visiting, nontenured academics like Kilgore.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise on Monday declined to discuss claims by some faculty that the university did not renew Kilgore's contract due to outside political pressure.

"This is a personnel matter," she told The News-Gazette.

The provost's committee has been assembled and will take up the matter, she said.

Kilgore supporters on Monday questioned the legitimacy of that committee, which is comprised of people appointed by the provost.

"Such a structure undermines the authority of the decision-making body that is already in place, the legitimately-appointed, unit executive officers that have hired James Kilgore and wish to do so for the upcoming academic year," said Merle Bowen, director of the Center for African Studies, where Kilgore has worked as an academic hourly since 2011.

Bowen said Kilgore has been a "key player" in the center, writing successful grant applications, organizing academic conferences, writing and distributing newsletters about the center and more.

"He is an incredibly important resource for us," said D. Fairchild Ruggles, a professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, who has had Kilgore run a reading group for a class. His involvement in the reading group, she said, deepened her understanding of incarceration studies.

Kilgore was picked up by authorities in South Africa in 2002, after decades on the run. He served prison sentences for possession of an explosive device, passport fraud and second-degree murder. He was released in 2009 and moved to Illinois to join his wife, UI history Professor Teresa Barnes. He has worked on campus in several different capacities and became involved in local social justice campaigns, including the anti-jail movement.

According to Bowen, the people who should make the decision about Kilgore's future employment at the UI should be those he's worked with: the director of the Center for Global Studies (Kilgore proposed to teach courses for the unit this coming fall), the head of the Department of Urban & Regional Planning, the Education Justice Project and the director of the Center for African Studies.

A resolution affirming principles of "academic freedom and fair employment" for tenured, tenure-track and nontenure-track faculty passed by a vote of 44 to 21 after a vigorous debate in the senate Monday afternoon.

Kim Graber, vice chairwoman of the senate's executive committee, questioned whether such a resolution was necessary and said she had concerns that approving such a resolution would show that the campus has problems with academic freedom.

"I don't think we have real problems" with issues of academic freedom and tenure, she said, and the senate body has appropriate venues, like the Committee for Academic Freedom and Tenure or the Faculty Advisory Committee, which takes up individual cases for faculty who file complaints.

The resolution that passed was an alternate to the one originally proposed. The original resolution included background language that some faculty questioned, such as whether or not "many faculty" had grave concerns about the principles of academic freedom and fairness in hiring instructional staff. It also called on senate committees to investigate "possible abridgements of these principles, and take suitable action on their findings." The first resolution was defeated.

"I would have preferred the original language," said Kathryn Oberdeck, a history professor who wrote the first resolution. But what's important is when faculty have concerns about academic freedom and employment equality, the senate should voice those concerns and reaffirm its commitment to those principles, she said. Doing so is "vitally important" for the university's shared governance structure, Oberdeck said.

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UrbanaJake wrote on May 05, 2014 at 11:05 pm

These tenured professors are desperate to champion a cause, no matter how silly.  How many federal parolees walk into several state-paying jobs as an unknown from a California prison? [Answer: one.] If you are married to UI Prof. Teresa Barnes, you hit the job lottery. The unemployment rate was in double-digits in 2010 and Kilgore/Pape/SLAyER shows up to teach everything and anything. There's an app for that: Nepotism. Worse part: UI Global Studies undergrads are forced to buy Kilgore's jailhouse-written fictional book about Wisconsin. The man had never set foot there. (But did hide in Minnesota and in a wealthy gated-white community in S. Africa for 27 years after murdering a mom of 4 in a bank. Her physician-husband declared the bank robbery victim dead in a California hospital and became an instant widower.) But Kilgore says all his crimes were just "political crimes" so raping 19-year-old Patricia Hearst is just what it took to revolutionize the country. Where are the adults among the faculty? Nay, where are the parents? Follow the money; Pape/Kilgore is.

VoiceFromTheRight wrote on May 06, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Dear UrbanaJake or should I say “Dear Mr. Jim Dey”?,

Let me explain why you don’t know what you are talking about.

 

I would like to start out by dispelling this myth about academics being left wing liberals.  I am a right wing academic and a proud American.  My heros are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.  I believe in competition and UIUC is become less competitive every single day and this means they have less money to employ people in the community.

Let’s start off by stating what two things make America great.  The greatest thing about America is competition and people need to be allowed to compete.  Also, in America it is not where you come from - it matters where you are going.  UrbanaJake/Dey – If you don’t believe in these principles then you are simply un-American.  Your stance is to prevent Kilgore for competing for a job and helping UIUC to compete for resources.

I am glad you raised the issue of unemployment.  What is Kilgore good at?  He is good at teaching, which frees faculty time up to get grants.  Grants mean money and jobs in this community through “good old” competition.   Second, Kilgore is good at writing and good writing is how you get grants.  Both things he did for very little money. I believe in the marketplace and I tell you this is good economics – hire someone with high skills with a low salary.  UIUC paid someone a small amount of money to help UIUC to be more competitive for resources.  Money (like grant money) means UIUC can employ people.  Kilgore helps UIUC be competitive and for a smaller paycheck than many others. 

You mentioned spousal hires.  Kilgore was not a spousal hire, so you are simply wrong.  However, I think it is important that you attack the concept of spousal hires in the media where everyone can read it.  When top-notch faculty accept jobs at UIUC they bring grants with them and those grants help keep people employed in this community.  UIUC has had a pretty bad track record of treatment of spouses (typically well-educated spouses I might add).  Other, more competitive, universities will hire these faculty and they, their grants, and their well-educated spouses will leave here (or never come here in the first place).  If I was thinking of coming to UIUC and I saw attacks in the newspaper about spousal hires and the university caving in on this situation I would stay where I was along with my grants to employ people in that community.

Finally, there are more important issues here.  Kilgore makes a small amount of money for the skills he has brought to his position.  Kilgore is not the problem on this campus (quite the opposite – he is an asset) and he spends what he makes in this community because he lives here.  In fact, you see a lot of support for him because he helps UIUC be more competitive. 

Sorry - good faculty work like hell.  They are up late at nights and working weekends writing grant proposals to bring money into this community.  What about others on campus that are frankly getting away with things that you should complain about?  I will give you a great example.  There is a development person here who makes 80 thousand per year plus benefits (so 100 thousand dollars and that is Illinois taxpayers’ money) and she did not want to live here and prefers to live in Boston.  So UIUC let’s her live in Boston.  Talk about privilege and as a taxpayer I am completely offended by this situation.  Thus, she does not spend money in the community and this does very little to really help us keep people employed here in the Urbana Champaign area.  Who was the genius in administration that allowed this situation to happen?  Why is the Provost not investigating this scam with a committee?  I tell you why - they want to keep the spotlight on Kilgore, because if someone started looking at these other issues, the results would not be in the N-G, they would be on the cover of the New York Times. 

 

bluegrass wrote on May 07, 2014 at 9:05 pm

VoiceFromTheRight, because you are not a left wing liberal, does not mean most academics are not left wing liberals.  Some are not.  Most are.

I guess I'm confused about the rest of your comments though.  Are you saying because the U of I pays Kilgore a small amount of money to do a lot of work, and presumably gets a good ROI, that we (they) should simply overlook his past?  

Joe American wrote on May 06, 2014 at 8:05 am

The faculty's opinions in this case are 100% irrelevant.  What does a coworker's opinion have to do with the employment of another? Are they signing his paycheck? Are they responsible for his actions? The only reason they're supporting him is because the day may come when their own personal idiocy rears its ugly head and they will want their comfy positions to be secure. Nonesense.  Any one who has ever had a real job knows that this is not how the system works.  Unfortunately most of them have never ventured out from the coddling arms of academia.

Oh, and I'd be VERY interested in seeing a list of the departments from which those who support him have creeped out from under their rocks. Pretty sure I could guess where 90% of them pretend work.

VoiceFromTheRight wrote on May 06, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Joe American - Keep it coming.  Most faculty spend nights and weekends writing grants and busting their asses to get funds to keep programs running.  These are funds that help employ people in this community.  Faculty then have to teach large classes and grade hundreds of papers a semester.  But I think it is great you shit on them and tell them that they do not work. You need to let these academics know that this community doesn't want them or need them.  These academics can damn well just get out of this town and take jobs elsewhere.  We don't need no educated people around here.  I am supporting you all the way Joe.

Local Yocal wrote on May 06, 2014 at 9:05 am
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I'd like to see The News-Gazette explain why it wants to build a $23 million dollar jail expansion and resorted to these tactics, and 2) interview past U of I students who took Mr. Kilgore's U of I classes to determine how detrimental Kilgore's past (of not being the actual shooter of the victim in the bank robbery) has been on his job performance as a teacher. You know, if this is really an objective inquiry and not a lending hand for Difanis/Kimme/Rietz/Walsh's wet dreams of a bigger jail.  

fflkommish wrote on May 06, 2014 at 11:05 am

"academic freedom and employment equality".  How about concern for customers?  That is the major disconnect. 

I am constantly amazed by the "shared governance structure".  Professors are employees.  Their input is nice, but ultimately why should they get to run the organization?

VoiceFromTheRight wrote on May 06, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Agreed.  As any good employee if the don't like it they can damn well just look for another job somewhere else...and that is exactly what many of them are doing.  It is a free market and if this community does not want these people then maybe it is time for them to leave.

Skepticity wrote on May 06, 2014 at 11:05 am

I think it is wonderful that so many highly paid professors with high level academic credentials would take a stand publicly on this issue. 

Finally they step up and illustrate the kind of political thought that is endemic to institutions of higher education.   Normally this kind of leftist thinking is part of the intellectual background at universities. 

You can only differentiate figure and ground if there is sufficient contrast, so this kind of thinking cannot be easily seen under normal circumstances. 

The Kilgore situation has caused them to step out into the light and cast a shadow that makes the bias visible.  They believe that Mr. Kilgore's history of revolutionary criminality (including bombs, bank robbery, and being an accessory to murder), his decades as a fugitive from justice (including assuming false identities while completing the education that supposedly qualifies him to teach), and his subsequent convictions for his crimes (how many years for these crimes???!!!) have no relevance.  The belief is that he served some time, he was paroled, so all is OK. Pay no mind... Move along...

I cannot help but wonder if they would still be these submitting petitions in the name of academic freedom if Mr. Kilgore had committed the crimes while part of a right wing nut group like Posse Comitatus. 

My opinion would be the same: 

He should not be in any publicly supported position, regardless of the political rationalizations about his crimes. He should not be allowed to spread the ideology that justified his crimes in any publicly funded position. 

Sancho Panza wrote on May 06, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Louis Wozniak was also an educator that was widely admired for his teaching abilities.  If the university cared only about classroom education then there are many examples of people that should be rehired.  However, with some searching, there may be as good of teachers available to hire that don't joke about sex with students or get involved with terrorist activities. 

VoiceFromTheRight wrote on May 06, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I completely agree.  With the pension situation and the union coming here soon UIUC should be very competitive to hire in people to come to a corn field in the middle of Illinois.  Add to this a local newspaper that routinely attacks people on campus.  What more could they ask for?  Keep the attacks coming.  It helps out a lot when UIUC tries to get people to move here as faculty.

UrbanaJake wrote on May 06, 2014 at 7:05 pm

You can trust that UrbanaJake and Jim Dey are not the same person. I contacted Jim Dey after his column appeared last month: Jim Dey wrote that James Kilgore stayed in Africa after fleeing the United States in September 1975 when a California judge issued an arrest warrant for Kilgore. The judge placed a $100,000 bail for Kilgore as he was wanted for pipe bomb possession. (Kilgore hired a mover in 1975 to move his items from an SLA safehouse after the bank robbery where a mom was murdered. I looked at the 1975 newspaper online.)

Kilgore is a shape-shifter and dishonest person in 2014. Because for every fact Mr. Dey uncovered about James Kilgore, the slightest bit of research online about Kilgore raises three more questions about Kilgore's fitness and qualifications...why does the FBI say Kilgore entered the U.S. on a fake passport in the 1990s while Kilgore was a rich S. African professor? what was Kligore doing in the 1990s (FBI says he used illegal passport to come to America twice that they know of.) What is Kilgore's Ph.D. in? How long did it take to earn? More questions: Was 19-year-old Patricia Hearst raped and tortured and drugged as she says? Kilgore was a 27-year-old grown man when he shotgun-robbed the bank. Why does the FBI identify Kilgore by the brand of batteries he uses in pipe bombs? What was Kilgore doing with a pipe bomb?

The man served his jail time. Whoppee. Millions do. It doesn't make one fit as a teacher. Or is that the qualification to teach: be a disgruntled ex-con with an ax to grind on the public's tax money. Also, he makes $17,000 from Univ. of Illinois for teaching 2 classes and he makes $25 per hour for research--each semester. Of course, he's good with documents: he is a convicted passport forger. Kilgore gets untold tax dollars and takes trips to Washington, D.C. and Chicago on the taxpayer dime. No one really knows how much Kilgore has taken from the taxpayer/ no one has cared to ask. Helps to have a nepotism-clout backer as your tenured faculty wife

But worst of all, visit Kilgore's public web site. He says he committed "political crimes" and that's why he was imprisoned. His right to say that. But Kilgore is too great a risk in my opinion to go "political" again on students or staff he disagrees with. What kind of a role model is a 27-year fugitive from the FBI? You can only teach what you know. There has to be someone better with a real future ahead of her.

As far as University of Illinois staff or faculty in Boston, I suggest you contact University of Illinois trustees and your elected officials with your concerns. James Kilgore's SLA extorted the University of California Board of Regents when it didn't like the elected governor's picks for Regent. In Pape/Kilgore's dictatorship, rape of women is law and the gunning down of school superintendents is the norm. Historians worried in 1974 that the Afro-American superintendent's name would be forgotten. Can you name this SLA victim? Read Robert Brainard Pearsall's book on the SLA. Then you can call me baseless names.

 

 

VoiceFromTheRight wrote on May 06, 2014 at 10:05 pm

UrbanaJake.  I am sorry that I called you baseless names.  I should have not called you Jim Dey.  I apologize and that was extremely mean of me.  

On the second issue (and I quote from you) "What is Kilgore's Ph.D. in? How long did it take to earn? More questions: Was 19-year-old Patricia Hearst raped and tortured and drugged as she says?"  I see the chain of logic of these three questions.  After the third question you should have asked what was the title of his thesis so there would have been four questions.  Then in a fifth and final question you could ask "was he abducted by aliens?"

I think faculty should think long and hard about the fact that UIUC administration and the Board of Trustees are basing hiring/firing policies off this type of public pressure.  What this says is it is time to start looking for positions elsewhere. Junior faculty you need to get the hell out of here as the university will not support you if you are ever attacked in the media.  What it says to me is that UIUC is an extremely risky place to work.

Mr Dreamy wrote on May 06, 2014 at 9:05 pm

UrbanaJake, you obviously are not Jim Dey. He never would do that much research. 

VoiceFromTheRight wrote on May 06, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Competely agreed.

UrbanaJake wrote on May 07, 2014 at 1:05 am

@VoiceFromTheRight:  I didn't say the faculty is "liberal." I said a march to an empty Chancellor's Office is "silly."  Of course the faculty can (and should) petition their individual and collective beliefs. Do you even know what James Kilgore teaches? I do. He selects a Global Studies topic and then designs an 8-week course. You keep saying he is paid little.  I think $17,000 is generous and competitive. (I'm not saying it's the right or wrong salary, but that I'm sure others on campus would like to have this opportunity and may have applied to design a course or two to earn the money, out-competing Kilgore.)  You say that James Kilgore is a "good" writer. In an online  intervew, Kilgore told the press that his book agent sent his book draft back because Kilgore was such a bad writer. Granted, he maybe better as a grant writer, but he's not the only one on campus who can write a grant, or be taught. As for nepotism, I guess I didn't know there was such a thing as a "volunteer" or affiliate employee as Assoc. Chancellor Kaler told the Chicago Sun-Times on March 22 that Kilgore was. Sounds like another secret route to a make-work job. No, I don't mean conspiracy, but what applicant without clout or a faculty wife would know to show up for a job that doesn't exist, wasn't advertised, and pays nothing? Personally, I think people should get paid for working, and not be subject to "affilate" status, if that was the case. As far as Univ. of Illinois attracting faculty, a lifetime tenure track appointment is a sizable magnet. Unless reserve 9/11 hijackers who overslept on 9/11 show up to teach at Williard Airport, no faculty member without a documented terriorist past is worried about the News-Gazette. The location of the University won't change. How do you know the "administartion" and Board of Trustees were aware of Kilgore before 2014? What do you think their role, if any, is in the governance of the University? Kilgore's own quotes in the May 6 Daily Illlini are telling. If he had applied to teach "Violent fugitive lifestyle and hiding in Africa: 1980-2002," he would have an honest shot to blow the competition away and steal away the job. Even I might enroll and then too be forced to buy his books while learning from behind a blast shield as I watch the clock spin toward its tick-tock 3-2-1 countdown, listening to Kilgore describe his 1970s and 1990s "political crimes" and 2000s convictions, and telling the class that he didn't belong in prison, but would still be in S. Africa if wasn't for ....

Skepticity wrote on May 07, 2014 at 1:05 am

Dear Mr. Voice

I don't believe that Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan would condone the hiring or retention of Mr. Kilgore in any teaching position, or any government funded position, given Mr. Kilgore's crimes and ideology. 

The fact that you apparently support Mr. Kilgore being employed at the university, causes me to doubt you are a "voice from the right."

If you were truly a "voice from the right," you would be offended by the history of Mr. Kilgore and outraged at his presence at the university.  You would be concerned that the public's opinion of the university might be adversely affected by Mr. Kilgore's continued presence, possibly making the university less competitive. 

Instead you step up to defend the indefensible.

This article is the first and only time you posted under this name. 

Being skeptical, I think your comments about Mr. Dey, and your baiting of other posters are suspect.  I think your nomme de plume is suspect. 

You seem very unhappy about being stuck in a cornfield in a town that questions the presence of a former terrorist revolutionary bank robber accomplice to murder being employed in a university teaching position. 

You seem offended that non-university citizens would dare speak out against Mr. Kilgore's employment. 

I think that the pension mess is much more a cause for concern about the competitive status of the university.  Perhaps you could post about that topic on another article?

I am glad that Mr. Dey made public that Mr. Kilgore was teaching here; that Mr. Kilgore was involved in local politics and had been appointed to the Champaign County Board jail advisory committee.  I am glad that Mr. Dey wrote an article that reviewed the history of this man.  I am glad that the community is speaking out. 

It is the University of Illinois, not the University of the Elite of the Ivory Tower.  This issue is open for public discussion. This is a public university. 

You don't have to be a professor in order to speak up.  We don't  have to raise a hand and ask for permission from the teacher.  Employment at U of I does not grant invulnerability to criticism from the public.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 07, 2014 at 11:05 am

A mother, wife, daughter, friend... was murdered while doing business in a bank.  One of the guilty served seven years for a "political crime".  Now, he is a hero of "academic freedom" at the center of attention.  This is not some felon who was busted for a drug transaction.  This is not some one who committed a crime as a "kid".  Academics would not do a petition for a building service worker, or kitchen help.  They will line up though for a felon, domestic terrorist.  They will defend nepotism in a public university as a right.  Any time that the boat is rocked just a little, they scurry out screaming "academic freedom".  The longest war in American history did not get them out demonstrating.  A time of the greatest economic disparity does not get them out in force.  Yet, the mention of a contract not being renewed and nepotism brings them out of the woodwork.  What if it happened to their privileges?

Mr Dreamy wrote on May 07, 2014 at 3:05 pm

The hubris of townies, as in "gown vs town", never ceases to amuse me. The University of Illinois is a world class, world renowned university. It is very big time. It just happens to be in Urbana IL (that's "Er-ban-a" to you in the outside world beyond Villa Grove, Rantoul and Danville).

No one at the U cares what you have to say. No one cares what some small time muckraker like Dey writes. If you don't like what the U of I does, don't do business with it. Stay off it's campus. MYOB. 

Go plan a corn festival.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 07, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Yep; that is the world class, world renowned attitude that the scandal ridden flagship shows to the public.  An archaic world packed with wantabee department heads.  People who know a great deal of information about minute matters; but cannot pour water out of a boot with the instructions on the heel. 

The public loves Kilgore type stories.  It boosters their opinions about ending tenure, establishing transparency, and requiring a cost responsible administration in public paid higher education.  The public might even come to see the financial waste in maintaining public universities.  Let the U of I go private; and save a ton of state money.

cretis16 wrote on May 07, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Has News Gazette filed a FOI for signers of the petition...be interesting to see who supports the former felon.

Skepticity wrote on May 07, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Mr. Dreamy, I appreciate the reassurance that I have not been overestimating the elitism of the attitudes of some academics at the University of Illinois. 

I am certain that you are intimately familiar with hubris. 

Go right ahead dreaming, up there in your ivory tower. 

UrbanaJake wrote on May 08, 2014 at 3:05 am

Forget Freedom of Information Act requesting the petition.  FOIA James Kilgore's Univ. of Illinois e-mail account. *Shivers*                                                   And to the comment about corn festivals: Champaign-Urbana is a fairly big community population-wise. Think about it. One-third of the country is rural and most people don't live in a county with 200,000-plus people with a $1 billion-plus annual budget public university. Is it any wonder Californian James Kilgore a.k.a Dr. Charles Pape chooses to live in middle America: a place his SLA hated for its values. Funny how the now 66-year-old screams from the rafters about imaginary "academic freedom," his job, and hefty paycheck. Most Americans make less than Kilgore's $25 per hour research job. Look it up. I did. Let's hope August 15 2014 is the last day James Kilgore will be an employee/taker of the Illinois taxpayer. And American taxpayer as UI gets federal money. His books are terrible and his published research is repeitive and syrupy ethnographic. My advanced degrees were earned at the UI in my name, not bought in a made-up subject matter that matters to identity politics-types who want to rip down the country while lazily sucking up tax dollars.                                                                                                                                    

cretis16 wrote on May 08, 2014 at 2:05 pm

http://supportjameskilgore.weebly.com/
 

Here are the supporters of Mr. Kilgore...ex felon, ex bank robber, ex fugitive, ex accomplice to murder. Take some time and read about the killing at the bank...just dreadful stuff...hard to see sympathy for someone like this.

serf wrote on May 08, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I wonder how many of these 300 stood up for Kenneth Howell when he was dismissed from the university a few years ago?  

 

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2010-07-09/instructor-catholicism...

Skepticity wrote on May 08, 2014 at 10:05 pm

The academics signed a petition with the wording of the so called "background" on the website including the following disinformation:

"From the outset, he has been open with the university about his criminal background which includes serving prison time for charges based on his political activities in the 1970s. "

"Charges based on his political activities in the 1970s!!!"

It sounds as though his crime was being arrested at a protest for not dispersing as police ordered.  

This is so Orwellian!  How can you describe what he did as "political activities?" 

Bomb making, bank robbery, being an accessory to the murder of a woman during the robbery, and falsifying a passport are not what I think of when some one speaks of "political activities!"

If you applied the distorted logic of this to WWII you could say that Hitler engaged in "political activities!"  

I hope that those who signed had more information than that provided on the website.  I hope that they clicked on the link labled "lengthy piece" and at least read Mr. Dey's article.  If they signed it despite knowing his crimes, then I can honestly consider them as willing to condone anything based in leftist ideology.