Clearing the Air on Al-Qloushi
March 14, 2005
by David French
A week before thanksgiving Professor Woolcock assigned us a take home final exam. The final exam consisted solely of one required essay: “Dye and Zeigler contend that the Constitution of the United States was not ‘ordained and established’ by ‘the people’ as we have so often been led to believe. They contend instead that it was written by a small educated and wealthy elite in America who were representative of powerful economic and political interests. Analyze the US constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded the majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest.When I read the assignment I remembered back to my high school in Kuwait. Many of my teachers were Palestinian; they hated America, they hated my worldview, and they did their best to brainwash me. I did not leave my country and my family to come to the United States to receive further brainwashing. I disagreed completely with Dye and Zeigler’s thesis. I wrote an essay defending America’s Founding Fathers and upholding the US constitution as a pioneering document, which has contributed to extraordinary freedoms in America and other corners of the world—including my corner, the Middle East.Professor Woolcock didn’t grade my essay. Instead he told me to come to see him in his office the following morning. I was surprised the next morning when instead of giving me a grade, Professor Woolcock verbally attacked me and my essay. He told me, “Your views are irrational.” He called me naïve for believing in the greatness of this country, and told me “America is not God’s gift to the world.” Then he upped the stakes and said “You need regular psychotherapy.” Apparently, if you are an Arab Muslim who loves America you must be deranged. Professor Woolcock went as far as to threaten me by stating that he would visit the Dean of International Admissions (who has the power to take away student visas) to make sure I received regular psychological treatment.
Third, the article ignores entirely Foothill’s conduct in this case. There seems to be no factual dispute that despite Ahmad’s complaints of serious faculty misconduct, the school has made no effort to address the serious First Amendment issues raised by Professor Woolcock’s actions. Instead, it has allowed the professor to file a complaint against Al-Qloushi. Morevoer, the school appears to have allowed Professor Woolcock to use a complaint procedure for his grievance that is limited to students only. If these facts are true, then Foothill has not only failed in its obligation to investigate credible complaints of official censorship, it has violated its own due process procedures to aid a professor’s attempt to silence his most prominent critic.
FIRE has written a letter to Foothill College requesting its side of the story. We will let you know how it responds.