Have you heard of the American Studies Association? It’s ok. Neither had we. The American Studies Association which, according to its website, “is the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” is, in our opinion, disreputable. Many colleges are members of the American Studies Association. According to the ASA website, “The ASA is open to colleges, universities, museums, foundations, societies, and other institutions sympathetic to the aims of the association. Institutional membership includes subscriptions to American Quarterly, the ASA Newsletter, and the Encyclopedia of American Studies Online, plus discounts on association services, upon payment of $170 annually in July or September. A list of institutional members is published in each issue ofAQ. Approximately 140 organizations help to support ASA through institutional membership.”
Anyhow, this organization, chartered in 1951, recently voted by a 2-1 margin to boycott Israeli institutions because of “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” Shame, shame, shame on the American Studies Association. And how have the eight Ivy League colleges responded to this shameful boycott of Israeli institutions by an organization that has a website that looks like it was designed in 1982? Oh, were there no websites then? Our bad. Well, the presidents of Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, and Cornell have all openly condemned this ill-advised decision.
So that leaves Princeton, Columbia, and Penn. Why haven’t the presidents of Princeton, Columbia, and Penn condemned this action as well? We’re not sure why it hasn’t happened yet. But it should! Wrote Dartmouth president Phil Hanlon in an email to the Dartmouth community, “Collaboration, especially across significant points of tension and difference, is essential to fostering mutual understanding and solving the world’s most complex problems.” Well said indeed. Shame on the American Studies Association. And the pressure is on for the presidents at Princeton, Columbia, and Penn to speak up and condemn their decision as well.