An Unstable Academic Threatens Alan Dershowitz
By Steven Plaut
May 24, 2007
On May 4, 2007, Professor Dershowitz took his campaign against Norman Finkelstein to the Wall Street Journal, publishing an Op-Ed there entitled "Finkelstein's Bigotry". In it Dershowitz again explains why no self-respecting university should employ a fraud and pseudo-scholar like Finkelstein, especially one with widespread ties to Islamic terrorists and anti-Semitic neo-Nazis. Dershowitz notes that Finkelstein brags that "never has one of [his] articles been published in a scientific magazine." By that he means academic journals. Yes, Finkelstein has yet to publish a scholarly article in a refereed academic journal, the sine qua non for tenure at any serious university. His entire "record" consists of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda "books", which get published on the basis of their commercial potential (bashing Jews is a great seller), not their academic quality.
Finkelstein has been fired from every college job he ever held before DePaul. Dershowitz notes that Finkelstein only went to DePaul out of desperation, after "radical Islamist Aminah McCloud -- a follower of Louis Farrakhan -- helped him land a job at DePaul." Dershowitz adds that Finkelstein himself dismisses DePaul as "a third-rate Catholic university."
In the Wall Street Journal piece, after reviewing Finkelstein's history of fraud and anti-Jewish bigotry, Dershowitz concludes thus:
He (Finkelstein) has encouraged radical goons to email threatening messages; "Look forward to a visit from me," reads one. "Nazis like [you] need to be confronted directly." He has threatened to sue if he loses -- while complaining about outside interference. No university should be afraid of truth -- regardless of its source -- especially when truth consists of Mr. Finkelstein's own words. Whether or not he receives tenure, Mr. Finkelstein will persist in his unscholarly, ad hominems against supporters of Israel, Holocaust survivors and the U.S. But for the time being, the question remains: Will his bigotry receive the imprimatur of the largest Catholic university in the America?
Dershowitz was too much a gentleman to reveal to readers of the Wall Street Journal the name of the toady for Finkelstein who sent him the obscene threatening letter in question. But the perp has now "outed" himself. It is none other than Rutgers University professor of anthropology and biology Robert Trivers!
Ever since LeRoy Jones, a.k.a. Amiri Baraka, resigned from being New Jersey's resident "poet laureate" thanks to his trashy, anti-Semitic and anti-American" poetry", Trivers has arguably been the Garden State's most notorious "intellectual" extremist. Besides biology, he is renowned as a hater of America and Israel.
Trivers is a biologist, and – unlike most political extremists of his ilk – actually has academic publications to his name, even distinguished ones. He is also a close crony of Noam Chomsky and collaborates with Chomsky in producing leftist agitprop. Here is a sample of the wisdom of Trivers-cum-Chomsky: "We find repeatedly now—in wasps, in birds and in monkeys—that when organisms realize they're being deceived they get pissed off. And they often attack the deceiver." The two also claim there that the American government intentionally let the Challenger space shuttle blow up.
Trivers' letter in the Wall Street Journal taking credit for sending vulgar threats to Dershowitz follows in full:
What I Said to Dershowitz
Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2007; Page A15
In regard to Alan Dershowitz's commentary "Finkelstein's Bigotry" (editorial page, May 4): In it he asserts that "He [Norman Finkelstein] has encouraged radical goons to email threatening messages; 'Look forward to a visit from me,' reads one. 'Nazis like [you] need to be confronted directly.'"
But all of this is untrue. I wrote the letter in question (April 15, 2007), but without Prof. Finkelstein's knowledge, interest or approval. The key sentences had nothing to do with Prof. Finkelstein: "Regarding your rationalization of Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians, let me just say that if there is a repeat of Israeli butchery toward Lebanon and if you decide once again to rationalize it publicly, look forward to a visit from me. Nazis -- and Nazi-like apologists such as yourself -- need to be confronted directly."
As for being an academic goon: I am late responding because I was in Europe lecturing after receiving the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences
His juvenile boasting about getting a biology prize aside, Trivers is not best known for his biological writings at all but rather for his long collaboration with Huey Newton and the Black Panthers. Perhaps it is not surprising that someone who cheers Hizbollah terrorism and thinks Israel practices "butchery" when it retaliates against the Hizbollah should also have long served as an apologist for Afrofascist racism and American domestic terrorists.
Trivers started his academic career at Harvard. As a Harvard undergraduate he had a nervous breakdown and was denied admissions into the University's Law program. Instead, he moved into biology in 1967 to study lizards. After getting his PhD, he taught at Harvard for a while but got turned down for tenure. In embittered response, he stopped academic work altogether for many years. The Guardian (UK) on August 27, 2005 wrote, "Robert Trivers could have been one of the great romantic heroes of 20th-century science if he'd died in the '70s, as some people supposed he would." Early on, he proposed a theory about the effects on the gender of offspring in animals that was later largely debunked.
From Harvard he moved to the University of California at Santa Cruz, long a hotbed of political radicalism. (UCSC employed Angela Davis and gave the Black Panthers' Huey Newton a "PhD".) Trivers later described the move to UCSC thus: "It was a once-in-a-lifetime mistake, in the sense that I can't afford to make another one like that. I survived, and I helped raise my children for a while; but that was all."
Biological research having lost its attraction for him at the time, he devoted his energies to the Black Panthers. According to John Brockman as cited in the Boston Globe, ''Over the years there were rumors about a series of breakdowns; he was in Jamaica; in jail. He fell off the map.''
He established contact with Huey Newton while the latter was in prison. Newton liked Trivers' theories about "self-deception." They became close chums. Trivers officially joined the Panthers in 1979. He turned out articles for them claiming that IQ tests were being used to oppress black folks. Newton and his co-terrorists were willing to forgive Trivers the fact that he is white. Trivers had grown up in Jamaica; his father was a Jewish refugee from Lithuania. (Burney Le Boeufas calls him "the blackest white man I know.")
Trivers published "research" together with Newton, including an analysis of the role of self-deception by the flight crew in the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 (Trivers, R.L. & Newton, H.P. Science Digest 'The crash of flight 90: doomed by self-deception?' November 1982). Newton was godfather to Trivers' youngest daughter. Trivers still features large in the "Dr. Huey Newton" collection at Stanford University.
Trivers has never abandoned his leftist extremism and PC wackiness. Trivers' career includes ten days in a police lock-up over a disputed hotel bill. According to the Guardian, " His language matches the macho clothes: for an Ivy League professor, he says 'fuck' a lot."
Trivers thinks population growth and "reproductive success" (which drives evolution) are more dangerous than nuclear war and endorses zero-population growth. At Rutgers he has been involved in "Palestinian solidarity" activities and efforts to "divest" from Israel. As the Wall Street Journal letter shows, Trivers thinks Israel defending itself from terrorist aggression is "butchery", and we can just imagine what he thinks of the ‘unjustified’ American "aggression" against Iwo Jima in World War II.
Trivers has tried to deploy his biological theories on "self-deception" as ammunition for the Left's attempt to force an American capitulation in Iraq. He says: "Then the 1990s, the era of Clinton and feel-goodism: when he lied, nobody died. Well, half a million Iraqis died in the 1990s, and that's just counting children, …. I fear that we'll spend our lives always describing in retrospect what deceit and self-deception just did to us and not getting to the point where we can try to prevent some of the bullshit ahead of time."
So much for his scientific discourse and accuracy.