Joy Karega, an assistant professor at Oberlin College whose Facebook posts featured anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish global power and accusations that Israel was behind the 9/11 terror attacks and the creation of ISIS, was officially dismissed by the school’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
The Board of Trustees found that Karega’s posts, which were first reported by The Tower in February, were in violation of the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Professional Ethics, which requires professors to “accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge” and to “practice intellectual honesty.”
In a statement, the Board of Trustees explained that Karega was given “numerous procedural protections” during the review process, including being represented by counsel and able to present witnesses and cross-examine people testifying against her. During the proceedings, the statement alleged, Karega “attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process.”
A majority of the General Faculty Council, the executive body of Oberlin’s faculty, found that Karega’s Facebook posts could not be considered part of her scholarly work, and had “irreparably impaired [her] ability to perform her duties as a scholar, a teacher, and a member of the community.”
“In the face of Dr. Karega’s repeated refusal to acknowledge and remedy her misconduct, her continued presence undermines the mission and values of Oberlin’s academic community,” the Board of Trustees statement concluded. “Thus, any sanction short of dismissal is insufficient and the Board of Trustees is compelled to take this most serious action.”
In a Facebook post reacting to her firing, Karega offered no apologies for her actions, instead writing thank-yous to her supporters and alluding to “litigation that is coming”:
I will be issuing an official statement soon. I could easily release a “Kiss My Ass” statement. I would be MORE than justified in doing so. But that is not my style. I choose my weapons CAREFULLY and STRATEGICALLY. And trust, I have done that. There will be a challenge and defense of my rights, using ALL the avenues I have available to me — litigation, public, etc. The pathway for that has already been laid.
The Tower’s exposure of Karega’s posts, which also included her questioning why President Obama had approved funding to support elderly Holocaust survivors, quickly became a national story in February. Karega, who was harshly condemned by many Jewish groups, subsequently wrote a post on Facebook thanking the website Veterans Today for its support. Veterans Today has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a website that “can slide pretty quickly into overt anti-Semitism,” publishing claims that, among other things, the Holocaust was exaggerated.
The following month, the chairman of the s Board of Trustees, Clyde McGregor, issued a statement calling Karega’s Facebook postings “anti-Semitic and abhorrent,” and stating unequivocally that they “have no place at Oberlin.” McGregor called for reviewing the issues raised by Karega’s post “expeditiously.”
In April the majority of Oberlin’s faculty signed a letter that was harshly critical of Karega. “Bigotry has no place on the Oberlin campus (or anywhere),” the letter said. “It sullies the values of equality and mutual support that are embedded in our institutional DNA as the first coeducational college and the first to admit students of all races as a matter of policy. … As scholars and teachers who treasure all Oberlin has been and must continue to be, we condemn any manifestation of bigotry on our campus — especially from our faculty.”