The Forward Dr. Cornel West is an intellectual giant, one of a select group of academics who have recognition outside their field; he has published a wide range of books and has frequently appeared as a talking head on TV, and he is known for his fiery progressive politics and criticism of race in the U.S. He was also just denied consideration for tenure by Harvard University, where he currently teaches.
West implied, in a tweet, that Harvard’s decision is retaliation for his critical stance on Israel. “Is Harvard a place for a free Black man like myself whose Christian faith & witness put equal value on Palestinian & Jewish babies — like all babies — & reject all occupations as immoral?” he wrote.
Harvard contests these allegations; West’s appointment, a joint position between the Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Department of African American Studies, was not a tenure-track role, so the committee which reviewed and renewed his position say they did not have the authority to evaluate him for tenure. They did offer him a 10-year contract and an endowed chair, the Victor S. Thomas Professorship of Public Philosophy.
But West says the issue was his work. “What I’m told is it’s too risky. And these are quotes. It’s too fraught. And I’m too controversial,” he told the Boston Globe.