cc: Vice Dean of the Faculty Hilary Appel, entire faculty
Dear Dean of Faculty Gregory Hess,
It has come to my attention that at a contentious faculty meeting took place on February 25, 2011, during which several erroneous and accusatory statements were made about me and about the award-winning newspaper for which I write, The Claremont Independent. To address this, I am requesting the opportunity to address the faculty in person to explain my writings and those ofThe Claremont Independent, and to speak specifically to the accusations made against me and The Claremont Independent.
The accusations of slander and libel that I understand were made at the faculty meeting are offensive to me, and, I find, abusive of the forum in which they were made. They impugn my character as a student journalist and the character of The Claremont Independent, no less than they are an affront to the truth of this important matter. It is particularly distasteful for faculty to level such accusations – in such a manner and such a forum – at a student seeking employment in professional journalism. Such carelessly cast accusations are professionally damaging, and I ask that the record be promptly corrected and that such statements be retracted.
The Claremont Independent does not knowingly print untrue statements about any subject, including Porfessor Bassam Frangieh. Indeed the record suggest that The Claremont Independent has a superior fact checking apparatus to the process used by Claremont McKenna College in connection with the granting of lateral tenure. It was, after all, The Claremont Independent that uncovered and painstakingly translated Professor Bassam Frangieh’s Arabic language interviews and writings. Furthermore, when The Claremont Independent has made mistakes, it has promptly issued corrections. The Claremont Independent has repeatedly offered Professor Bassam Frangieh the opportunity to correct the body of material which The Claremont Independent has published as either authored by him, publically said by him, or adopted by him. Professor Bassam Frangieh has ignored these offers.
I should add that all of the material that I or The Claremont Independent published regarding Professor Bassam Frangieh has been reviewed by my counsel and by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. The primary source material that I and The Claremont Independent published was translated by three different translators at considerable personal expense.
I believe that the purpose of this ad hoc resolution – it was submitted for consideration less than 24 hours before the meeting took place – was to intimidate me, a student journalist, and to produce a statement from the faculty condemning me and my work as a journalist. That way, the resolution could be given to the growing chorus of alumni disappointed with the college’s hitherto response to this scandal as a defense of Professor Bassam Frangieh, without ever addressing the issue or the related facts in the forthright manner that academic freedom requires.
For similar motives it seems Vice President Richard Rodner failed to inform any of the professors likely to be sympathetic to my case, which, in this case, includes nearly the entirety of the Government Department. It was only after Vice Dean Appel e-mailed members of the Government Department – that is, after the scrambled vote on Friday – that they were informed.
Why is it that some faculty members were selectively informed of the purpose of the February 25th meeting, if not to suppress the development and expression of their views? Claremont McKenna College cannot both champion academic freedom on the one hand and approve of or assist in the concealment of facts and the suppression of opposing views on the other.
That Claremont McKenna College adopted the speech code of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education during the same month that it would to implicitly deny the academic freedom of its students would be farcical were it not so grave. I should not need to remind anyone that under the State of California’s Leonard Law, students possess greater rights to academic freedom than do professors. Yet, no one has provided any evidence that Professor Bassam Frangieh’s “academic freedom” has been abridged. On the contrary, students, parents, and alumni alike have called on him to repudiate Hamas and Hezbollah and encouraged him to defend himself, but he has so far refused.
The faculty meeting held on February the 25th was obviously called in haste, as the lack of material presented there suggests. From all appearances the meeting was called to address the letter of Canadian Royal Mounty, Don Laird. Laird, in response to a story I wrote for National Review Online, suggested that Professor Bassam Frangieh’s views are warning signs of a danger of actual violence that Claremont community ought to take seriously. This, while
perhaps (an earlier version was "perhaps," but, having looked into Mr. Laird I think "certainly" is more applicable, you can read my statement on him here) certainly an exaggeration, it indicates why it is all the more crucial that the Claremont McKenna College encourage Professor Bassam Frangieh to publicly defend the views he has expressed.
To stop feeding the rumor mill and to make sure that the entire faculty can speak authoritatively, I ask to be allowed to present all of the information that I have had translated about Professor Frangieh’s views to the entire faculty. If necessary and though I think the material speaks for itself, I will also speak to the faculty and answer their questions. I also ask that the professors – in particular Professors Haley and Hurley, among others – who referred to my work as “slanderous” or libelous, retract their statements. Further, I insist that Professors Haley and Hurley recuse themselves from any action pertaining to my graduation from the college and from evaluating my Honors government thesis for awards.
Should you, or anyone else feel the need to speak with me, my email address and phone number are below my name. As per usual, I will honor all requests for anonymity. These are very serious charges and I expect to be allowed to address them and to confront my accusers with my pen, and if necessary, my face and voice.
Charles C. Johnson
[phone number redacted]