A white DePaul University professor mocked her black Jamaican-born colleague Jason D. Hill, claiming he came from a “shit-hole” country after Hill wrote an op-ed expressing support for the state of Israel.
The smear may be shocking to some but it’s just another day on an American university campus nowadays. To the academic Left, supporting Israel is arguably the worst thing anyone can do. Backing the Jewish state is an unforgivable sin in their eyes.
To these people, saying anything good about Israel is a crime against humanity. They believe that perpetrators of such thought crimes need to be made examples of and punished with the utmost severity.
So that’s what they did to Hill, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and author of several books, including What Do White Americans Owe Black People? Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression (Emancipation Books, 2021) and We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People (Bombardier Books, 2018). Hill is currently writing another book, Man Haters: the Left’s Vicious Campaign to Emasculate Men and Boys, which will be published next year.
The attacks on Hill were launched even though leftist thinking dictates he should enjoy triple-protected status because he checks three boxes on the all-important intersectional checklist: he’s black, gay, and an immigrant. But he is not beyond scrutiny in the woke world because he holds the wrong views on Israel and its right to exist, an issue that is at the apex of the leftist hierarchy of hatred.
The “shit-hole country” slander came as leftists at DePaul University in Chicago launched a vicious vendetta against tenured philosophy professor Hill after he wrote a column, “The Moral Case For Israel Annexing The West Bank—And Beyond,” that was published in The Federalist on April 16, 2019.
In the opinion piece, Hill wrote that “Israel has the moral right to annex all of the West Bank (even Area C) for a plethora of reasons.”
Hill questioned the idea that there can be such a thing as “legitimate ‘Palestinian Territory’ in a geographic region legally seized in a defensive war instigated by a foreign aggressor.”
“The purpose of war is always to vanquish the enemy. The losers of the war cannot make demands on the victors that the victors themselves would not have been put in the position of meeting had the adversary or enemy not forced the victors into making it in the first place,” Hill wrote.
“Israel was forced into a war, which it won. It was then expected to renounce and repudiate the consequences of its fairly won war by capitulating to the conditions of its vanquished enemy, which included, among other self-sacrificially undertaken goals, granting statehood, autonomy, right of return, and the ultimate elimination of Jewry from the region.”
Israel must be preserved, he argued.
“Jewish exceptionalism and the exceptionalist nature of Jewish civilization require an unconditional space for the continued evolution of their civilization. What’s good for Jewish civilization is good for humanity at large. Jewish civilization is an international treasure trove that must be protected,” Hill wrote.
“Not all cultures are indeed equal,” he added, attacking the fundamental principle underlying multiculturalism.
“Some are abysmally inferior and regressive based on their comprehensive philosophy and fundamental principles—or lack thereof—that guide or fail to protect the inalienable rights of their citizens.”
Reaction to the column was swift and fierce.
DePaul initiated a campaign of harassment to isolate and marginalize Hill, destroy his academic career, and ruin his life. The DePaul chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, a notorious anti-Semitic group that regurgitates Hamas propaganda, joined in, demanding Hill apologize and telling Newsweek the group was “completely appalled and outraged” by the column.
“Regardless if DePaul chooses to meet our demands, the coalition will continue to organize, mobilize, and disrupt until our demands are met in order to promote justice and equality for all marginalized communities on campus,” SJP said.
Hill responded to DePaul by filing suit (pdf) in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, against the university and two faculty leaders in April 2020 claiming breach of contract, defamation, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The faculty leaders are religious studies professor Scott Paeth, who was president of the DePaul Faculty Council at the time, and provost Salma Ghanem, a communications professor. Both are tenured faculty members. Paeth penned an anti-Israel, pro-BDS post in 2015.
“This case is about a tenured professor who freely spoke his mind,” the legal complaint begins.
“Plaintiff Jason D. Hill is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Defendant DePaul University. Last year, Dr. Hill wrote an article commenting on the dispute between Israel and Palestine. His opinion — protected by the time-honored principle of academic freedom for professors — was nothing new or shocking. But to a powerful faction in the university community, Dr. Hill picked the wrong side of the debate. And for that, Dr. Hill has suffered censorship, injustice, persecution, and humiliation.”
“Accordingly, Dr. Hill brings this action seeking an award of damages to vindicate his contractual and due process rights, clear his name, and compensate him for the defendants’ inflicted pain, humiliation, and agony.”
Soon after the opinion piece was published, the DePaul Faculty Council violated its own established rules by ramming through a formal resolution censuring Hill. The resolution contained a litany of falsehoods, saying Hill expressed “positions that are factually inaccurate, advocate[d] war crimes and ethnic cleansing, and [gave] voice to racism with respect to the Palestinian populations.”
The resolution also claimed that the “article failed to exercise adequate concern for accuracy, restraint, or respect for the opinions of others, as per the AAUP [i.e. American Association of University Professors] guidelines. As such, this article represents an abuse of his academic freedom.”
The council urged Hill “to seriously reconsider his positions on these issues, to take cognizance of the perspectives of other scholars on these issues, as well as the real harm his words have caused to students and other members of our community, and to refrain from abusing his freedom as a scholar in writing on controversial issues in the future.”
Of course, the hoary old claim that support for Israel is inherently racist has been around a long time, and the visceral hatred that leftists feel for the Jewish state is so extreme that they routinely vomit up over-the-top accusations against people who defend Israel, an outpost of civilization surrounded by a sea of barbarism.
Meanwhile, as a result of DePaul’s actions, Hill began receiving anonymous death threats at his campus email account. Ghanem allegedly responded to this outbreak of hostility “by publicly encouraging those attacking” Hill.
But apart from providing Hill with a security escort on campus, the university was indifferent to his physical well-being. The school “refused to punish or meaningfully investigate” the “anonymous threats of physical violence” made against Hill. “Rather, DePaul has encouraged such threats,” according to the complaint.
Faculty members demanded Hill not be allowed to teach upper-level classes and encouraged students to boycott his classes. DePaul hosted a dinner titled “Come Celebrate the Censure of Professor Hill” that was co-sponsored by his Department of Philosophy colleagues as well as six other departments.
DePaul allowed massive demonstrations in which students occupied entire buildings and distributed thousands of leaflets calling him racist, xenophobic, sexist, and demanding he be fired. DePaul even created an online database dedicated to “keeping alive the cultural memory of Jason Hill” and to warn future students to avoid Hill and not take his classes, the legal complaint states.
According to the complaint, the defendants “subjected Dr. Hill to unlawful racial discrimination in that as an African-American they expect him to adhere to the opinion that African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves must view the Palestinians as an enslaved race and the Israeli government as a slave regime.”
Anthropology professor Nila Ginger Hofman, a white leftist, ridiculed Hill in a mass email she sent out June 7, 2019, in response to his column.
“Morally despicable and academically unsound. It sounds a lot like Trump’s ranting about ‘shit-hole countries’ - ironically, as Trump would say, Hill himself originates from such a country,” Hofman wrote.
Hofman’s malicious comment exposed her contempt for Hill and his beliefs.
“I take the quote to be a form of humiliation, an effort on her part to humiliate me,” Hill told this writer in an interview.
“I’m an immigrant. I’m an American citizen now. But I think she referred to Jamaica as a shit-hole country for several reasons,” he said.
“I take it as a form of harassment and her attempts to create a very hostile –this is how it feels to me— very hostile work environment, which made me feel very embarrassed about even appearing on campus,” Hill said.
“And I find it interesting that the only black person in the department is called this by a so-called white leftist on campus because this person doesn’t toe the racial party line. So it made me feel very, very embarrassed. I felt that it was a form of racial humiliation and that she did this deliberately as a way of creating a very hostile work environment for me to exist in, and by emailing all these people on the server list.”
To this day, almost no one on campus even speaks to Hill, he said.
Apart from his students, there are “probably four people on campus who will speak to me,” he said. His guess is that this “is the effect that she wanted to have.”
“It’s had a toxic effect in terms of people just shutting down and not having anything to do with me at all – not saying hello, not acknowledging my presence on campus. There are one or two colleagues in my department who are cordial to me and will say hello. But for the most part, I have maybe three people on campus outside of my department who will speak to me.”
It feels as if DePaul is “trying to create a very hostile, intimidating, and uncomfortable work environment for me to leave. I do not feel like I'm wanted there,” Hill said.
Hill has suffered other “very vexing” indignities on campus, he said.
Since the backlash began, he has not been allowed to teach any upper-level classes, nor has he been given any teaching assistants to lighten his load, even though he had them before the op-ed.
Instead, he has been assigned courses “that you would give to a second-year graduate student” despite the fact that he’s been a professor for 25 years, Hill said.
Even before the pro-Israel op-ed, Hill experienced hostility on campus because of his beliefs and his race.
There was a “nasty” battle in 2005 over his tenure, Hill said. The philosophy department voted against granting him tenure but the decision was overruled by Father Dennis H. Holtschneider, the university’s president at the time.
At the time, one of Hill’s fellow academics told him that she’d heard that colleagues disliked him because, in their words, he was too “uppity,” Hill said.
The word “uppity” means arrogant or presumptuous but the term has traditionally had racist connotations. “Uppity” is a term “racist southerners used for black people who didn't know their place,” as The Atlantic has noted. “Uppity” is “often followed by the n-word.”
Hill said his colleagues fought against his tenure because “they just thought that my politics were not left-leaning enough.”
“I was not someone who held orthodox positions that they thought black persons should hold. I’m an independent thinker,” Hill said.
Despite the challenges he faces, Hill said he has no intention of retreating.
“I’m a fighter and I intend to fight for my First Amendment rights. I don’t intend to back down and I refuse to be silenced,” he said.
“I’ve got a spine of steel. And persons such as Hofman can try to demean me and subject me to a hostile work environment and a kind of racial harassment, which is what I feel this is,” Hill said.
“I continue to be very loyal and dedicated to my students after serving 22 years at DePaul as a professor … and will continue to be loyal for as long as I’m there to my students. And I mean that quite seriously. I'm a very dedicated teacher.”
The trial in Hill’s lawsuit against DePaul is scheduled for the first week of November.