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Chairman of Oberlin Trustees: Joy Karega’s Posts “Abhorrent,” Swift Review Needed

Responding to mounting criticism, Oberlin College Board of Trustees chair Clyde McGregor issued a statement Saturday criticizing the school’s response to the Facebook posts of Prof. Joy Karega. Karega’s claims, which included the belief that the Jewish Rothschild family secretly owns most of the world’s central banks and that Israel was behind the 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, were first revealed by The Tower last week.

“At our quarterly Board meeting yesterday, the Trustees of Oberlin College discussed postings on social media by an Oberlin faculty member,” McGregor said.

These postings are anti-Semitic and abhorrent. We deplore anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry. They have no place at Oberlin.

These grave issues must be considered expeditiously. In consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Board has asked the administration and faculty to challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings and to report back to the Board.

From its founding, Oberlin College has stood for inclusion, respect, and tolerance. We still do.

The revelations of Karega’s statements have unleashed a firestorm of public condemnation, including calls for the non-tentured professor’s dismissal.

McGregor’s statement comes in sharp contrast to Krislov’s statement on Thursday, which conceded that the professor’s opinions constituted “conspiracy theories” that “caused pain,” but stood behind the principle of academic freedom and fell short of issuing a direct condemnation.

Abraham Socher, an associate professor of religion and director of the college’s Jewish Studies program, called her postings anti-Semitic in an op-ed Friday for the Oberlin Review, the school newspaper.

Socher provided the historical background of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that Karega promoted.

The most infamous of these conspiracy theories was The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a bizarre, incoherent transcript of supposed secret meetings by powerful, shadowy Jews plotting to take over the world by manipulating the world economy and fomenting war. It drew on 19th-century French royalist documents and was published by ultra-nationalist Russian anti-Semites in 1903. Henry Ford — and, later, Hitler — promoted it, and it’s still a favorite of cranks worried that a nefarious New World Order is about to take over. As a key anti-Semitic document in the 20th century, The Protocols were instrumental in persecutions, riots and, eventually, genocide. The Protocols conspiracy theory was parallel to — and sometimes combined with — the claim that the Rothschilds, a famous Jewish banking family, were also guilty of planning world domination. A Google search will quickly lead you to claims by neo-Nazis that The Protocols are a “Rothschild handbook,” often focusing on the 87-year-old English philanthropist Jacob Rothschild.

Which brings us back to Professor Karega-Mason’s Facebook posts. In a screenshot of a December 2014 post, she posted a meme of a reptilian-looking Jacob Rothschild — he looks a little like Mr. Burns on The Simpsons — with the text, “Hello there, my name is Jacob Rothschild. My family is worth 500 trillion dollars. We own nearly every central bank in the world. We financed both sides of every war since Napoleon. We own your news, the media, your oil, and your government.” In her post, Professor Karega-Mason comments, “Yep. This family and several others. Which is why I’m not concerned with or interested in any discussions or plans of action that don’t get at things from the top-down.” One can only hope that Professor Karega-Mason is unaware of the actual history of “plans of action” against the nefarious Jews who control the world. …

In my 16 years at Oberlin College, I have never publicly criticized a colleague. But it seems to me that to look quickly away from Professor Karega-Mason’s posts without explaining exactly what is wrong with them would be to confirm that Oberlin College is indifferent to — or at least very squeamish about — anti-Semitism. I would prefer to think otherwise.

In her writings, Karega has explicitly denied ties between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, claiming that the latter is merely a means of silencing the former. Yet, as Socher showed, Karega embraced a classic and universally recognizable anti-Semitic trope.

Karega posted on her Facebook page on Saturday afternoon that on advice of legal counsel, she “will no longer be making any statements concerning my situation at Oberlin,” but remains “firm in my convictions and resolve.”

[Photo: Oberlin College / YouTube ]