If you’ve already read a transcript of Salaita’s statement at the press conference held at UIUC, go straight to the Q & A that starts around minute 40 of this Youtube clip, which you can find here. I think it’s super interesting, mostly because I’m finding it hard to square the dissonance created between  the public appearance of Salaita at the press conference and 2] the online profile and persona generated at or by his twitter field. The one is as thoughtful, temperate, and civil as the other is abusive, thoughtless, and intemperate. And yes, the now-much-abused value represented here remains “civil,” the term used by Salaita himself in the Q & A to plead the moral side of his case. While it should be clear that, normatively, the former should trump the latter, it can hardly be helped that, in actuality, the latter has obscured the former and its public perception. The winning human face is awkward, even geeky, and, under the stress and circumstance, extremely sad, whereas the obnoxious persona online is fierce and unforgiving.
It’s still hard for me to believe that Salaita or his many supporters cannot see that the opposition to his appointment would have the same ambiguous physiognomy, that there are human and boorish dimensions to the way his critics have responded to his online public performance. It should surprise no one that the the tenor of his online comments about of Israel would or should cast such a sustained and critical light on his entire professional profile. As many believe and not without cause, those comments when viewed in the aggregate veered close up to and just over the border that separates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and if not anti-Semitism then Jew-baiting. Salaita’s application relied in part upon his reputation as a public intellectual. It’s the very character of that profile, projected online through social media, that did so much damage, both to himself and to his critics, who in coming out against him revealed their own heavy hand.