OPINION: Regarding the disturbing appearance of Antisemitism in a UP class

By Stan Nadel | October 9, 2020 11:33am

Stan Nadel is a professor in UP's Studies Abroad department. Photo courtesy of Stan Nadel.

I have been teaching European history at the University of Portland Salzburg Austria Center for more than 15 years and I find this report that a class by one of my colleagues was given over to an Antisemitic rant by a guest lecturer both shocking and totally out of character for the University of Portland as I have known it. 

When I was first interviewed for a teaching position at UP, I said that in teaching modern European history, I would have to cover the record of the Catholic Church in promoting hatred of Jews, as it is a very important part of European history. My interviewer, a priest, responded by saying "very good, we want our students to learn about that." I was very pleased to hear that because teaching European history without teaching about the centuries of Jew hatred and persecution would be like teaching American history without mentioning racism or slavery.

In all my years teaching at UP I have devoted major parts of my courses to the history of Antisemitism and its consequences—as my students would surely attest. And during that time I have never gotten anything but support from the UP administrators and faculty in my doing so. In fact, teaching about Antisemitism and the Holocaust is not only an important part of my own courses, but is also an important part of the Salzburg Austria program as a whole. 

Every year, in addition to the coverage of the nature and history of Antisemitism included in several of our courses (including literature and philosophy as well as history), our students have gotten to go on an educational tour of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp site and its museum—a tour that has often reduced some of them to tears as it is a brutal experience. And despite the emotional hardship involved, I don't think we have ever had any complaints. 

The notion that Antisemitism might be implicitly condoned by one of my UP colleagues disturbs me greatly, but based on my experience at UP, I'm sure that the UP administration will be active in dealing with it.

Professor Stan Nadel

Stan Nadel has a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University and is a professor in the Studies Abroad department. He can be reached at nadel@up.edu.

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