In December, the American Studies Association (ASA) strayed far from its mission and the spirit of free inquiry in the academy. Rather than uphold their commitment “to promote and encourage the study of American culture,” the ASA’s members voted to boycott Israel universities and Israeli scholars “until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law.” While the Independent is planning a more lengthy critique of the ASA’s wrongheaded boycott and what it means for higher education, we would like to commend Swarthmore’s President, Rebecca Chopp for her rebuke to the ASA and defense of free inquiry, which represents one of the hallmarks of education and American democracy. Her Dec. 28, 2013 statement reads:
Academic freedom is the most cherished of all principles within the academy and the foundation stone of what makes the academy invaluable in a democratic society. I strongly oppose the recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities, which represents a direct threat to that freedom.