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Federal panel concludes Brooklyn principal was discriminated against
March 13, 2010 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Debbie Almontaser, who was set to be the principal of a new dual language Arab-English school in 2007, was instead pushed out and forced to resign after she answered the question "What is the root word of 'intifada'?" She answered "shaking off" and many in the news media ran with this as a story. Things didn't go well for her after that, until a federal panel yesterday concluded that she had been discriminated against.
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily (46 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"What is the root word of 'intifada'?"

Where is that quote from?
posted by andoatnp at 10:18 PM on March 13, 2010


"What is the root word of 'intifada'?"

Where is that quote from?


I inferred that this was likely the question that The New York Post (in the 5th link) asked her, to which she responded, as quoted in the article:
"The word [intifada] basically means 'shaking off.' That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic," she said.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:41 PM on March 13, 2010


andoatnp:

From EdWize

and

"The August 17 edition of the newspaper The Jewish Week recounts in excruciating detail how The New York Post ambushed Debbie, departing from their pre-submitted questions on KGIA to idly ask what “intifada” means…before making her aware of the AWAAM T-shirts. That she then focused on the good intentions of the young women of AWAAM speaks to her commitment to youth—a prerequisite, one would hope, for a middle-school principal."

and from 11/20/07 edition of The Jewish Week
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 10:48 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Almontaser also describes the questioning this way in the HBO documentary Shouting Fire in a Crowded theatre and in the democracy now interviews.
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 10:49 PM on March 13, 2010


My reading of the NYPost article was that they asked her about the shirts, and her response was to explain the root word for intifada. Which obviously misses the point. If that is what happened, it's a slightly different situation that how the post characterizes it.

I'm just curious because in the post the question is in quotation marks and I didn't see that phrase in any of the articles so I'm curious where it came from.
posted by andoatnp at 10:50 PM on March 13, 2010


Ah, never mind that previous comment, thanks for the information. I thought maybe there was more detail in the youtube videos, I just don't have time now to watch them all.

Sorry for the non-preview.
posted by andoatnp at 10:52 PM on March 13, 2010


No problem. It is a good question. I am not sure if anyone besides Almontaser herself has been able to confirm how the interview took place. But here is an account from the Jewish Week link above:

"At the very end of the interview, Almontaser told one of these sources, Bennett, without bringing up the T-shirts, asked her almost incidentally what the word “intifada” meant. She consulted an Arabic dictionary and told him:
“The word basically means ‘shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic.” Bennett then told her about the T-shirts, adding that they were produced by a group that shares space with another group on whose board she sits. She replied: “I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don’t believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City. I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society ... and shaking off oppression.”
This account could not be independently confirmed. Bennett could not speak on the record. Attempts to reach the education department were unsuccessful."
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 11:00 PM on March 13, 2010


"The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. / If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind." - Gibran Khalil Gibran

I mean, they named the school after a Christian poet.

I hope Ms. Almontaser gets reinstated and can help teach all kinds of kids. We need her school.
posted by lauranesson at 11:09 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just curious because in the post the question is in quotation marks and I didn't see that phrase in any of the articles so I'm curious where it came from.

Although I personally didn't find the use of quotation marks sketchy or misleading upon reviewing the articles, it was a valid question that should be asked, lest we have more livejournalism school incidents.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:09 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The New York Post is scum. Where's a Katharina Blum when you need one?
posted by dunkadunc at 11:14 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


My reading of the NYPost article was that they asked her about the shirts, and her response was to explain the root word for intifada. Which obviously misses the point. If that is what happened, it's a slightly different situation that how the post characterizes it.

That's the correct reading, because the article is a lie. (Assuming the Jewish week article and everything else is correct, of course)
posted by delmoi at 11:30 PM on March 13, 2010


Well, it's not like they got the quotes wrong -- the Jewish Week article seems to confirm she said everything quoted in the NYPost article. I think what happened was wrong, but I don't see anything terribly misleading about her part in the NYPost article.

Also, does anyone else feel that there are strong similarities to the 1999 DC 'niggardly' incident? Dry explanation of the word combined with anger at its connotations driving someone out of a job.
posted by FuManchu at 1:48 AM on March 14, 2010


As a teacher, this is an administrator that I'd be glad to have in my corner.
posted by blessedlyndie at 3:41 AM on March 14, 2010


What is the meaning of "jihad"?
posted by Postroad at 4:53 AM on March 14, 2010


Crusade.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:54 AM on March 14, 2010


Just for the dim among us: What is "shaking off"?
posted by DU at 6:13 AM on March 14, 2010


From the last link:
She was fired from her job and every civil rights activist in the American Jewish community, pro-Israel community, post-9/11 activists and just plain old average "Amerkans" came out and applauded her firing. After all, she was "Arab" and didn't ALL ARABS attack America on Sept. 11, 2001?

Am I allowed to be happy that Almontaser has received some measure of justice while simultaneously believing that the author of that article is just as bad as what he says he's fighting?
posted by 1adam12 at 6:21 AM on March 14, 2010


Federal judges later issued a ruling — related to a lawsuit brought by Ms. Almontaser — stating that The Post had reported her words “incorrectly and misleadingly."
posted by Slogby at 7:02 AM on March 14, 2010


Significantly, it was not her actual remarks, but their elaboration by the reporter - creating waves of explicit anti-Muslim bias from several extremist sources - that caused D.O.E. to act



I gave him the root of the word,” she said, and told him, “You must understand this word has developed a negative connotation based on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in which thousands of people have been killed.”

Almontaser said Bennett dropped the part of the quote about the thousands killed.





"The word [intifada] basically means 'shaking off.' That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic," she said.

"I understand it is developing a nega tive connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don't be lieve the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City.

"I think it's pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society . . . and shaking off oppression."

posted by FuManchu at 7:29 AM on March 14, 2010


It's so scary that any policy could actually be made or changed by a Post story, especially when you consider that a) it's anprofitable propaganda rag subsidized by Murdoch and b) the only people who buy it also tend to buy lotto tickets, tall boys, and jerkoffs mags at the same time.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:33 AM on March 14, 2010


Okay, I'll admit I'm stupid.

What exactly did she do wrong? If it means shaking off in the dictionary, that's what it means. It seems about as offensive as using the word "revolt" to describe a... revolt.
posted by codswallop at 8:21 AM on March 14, 2010


codswallop: "Okay, I'll admit I'm stupid.

What exactly did she do wrong? If it means shaking off in the dictionary, that's what it means. It seems about as offensive as using the word "revolt" to describe a... revolt.
"

Count me among the confused. Somebody responded to an interview question (that involves I/P in someway?) and a bunch of people got offended?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2010


I've met Debbie, and she's a wonderful, warm-hearted person. After 9/11, she devoted herself to reaching out to the Brooklyn community to demonstrate that being Arab or Muslim is not synonymous with being a terrorist. I was really sad to see her smeared like this.

A public school with a cultural focus like this is a controversial and delicate idea. But the truth is, New York has and its Muslims need to find positive ways of dealing with one another. It's a fascinating cultural exchange.

I lived around the corner from a private Muslim school, and I found it amusing that the hijabed high-school girls had the foulest language I've ever heard (worse even than the retired longshoremen and merchant marines who frequented the same bodegas).

If Debbie does win a big settlement, I have no doubt she'll plow it right back into the community. She's a hero in my book.
posted by rikschell at 9:05 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


FuManchu: you said it didn't seem misleading - a court has ruled it was. I suspect the judges have examined the matter more thoroughly than you. She denies saying the girls were "shaking off oppression". The NYPost did not quote her accurately, they first asked about the derivation of the word 'intifada' and only later about the t-shirt, and then confabulated her remarks into a direct quote.
posted by Slogby at 9:13 AM on March 14, 2010


Bloomberg's summary strikes me as the most correct and pithy:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg reaffirmed his support for the school this week, even as he welcomed Almontaser’s resignation. “She got a question, she’s not all that media savvy, maybe, and she tried to explain a word rather than condemn,” he said.
She got a question outside the scope of her responsibilities during an interview where she was representing a school. Ideally, she should have shut up. Or she should have gone with the official response (which she put out the day after): "The use of the word ‘intifada’ is completely inappropriate as a T-shirt slogan. I regret suggesting otherwise."

you said it didn't seem misleading -- No, I said it seems like people largely agree on what was said. Not whether it was misleading, or in the correct context, or whether in the correct order. Journalists do this all the time. It just doesn't always cost someone their job.

She denies saying the girls were "shaking off oppression". -- Huh, I completely missed this. Was this in one of the YouTube links? I missed it elsewhere.

Anyhow, my take on this is that the reporter was doing what reporters do. Almontaser wasn't cautious enough and got some bad press. Everyone who gets bad press is annoyed about (a) exact wording (b) timeline (c) context. It's not anything new.

That the DOE pushed her out was a bit ridiculous. I think it was wrong over something so small. Maybe ensure she doesn't give any more interviews. Like I mentioned above, this seems like a larger analogy to the ''niggardly' incident. Poorly worded statement, people who want to get offended get offended, someone loses their job. The first two are always going to happen. The latter shouldn't. It's stupid and it shouldn't happen.
posted by FuManchu at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2010


If that is what happened, it's a slightly different situation that how the post characterizes it.

Yes, that is the general rule w/r/t the Post.

...the only people who buy it also tend to buy lotto tickets, tall boys, and jerkoffs mags at the same time.

And yet they still slip the paper in between Spank and Nugget so nobody sees them buy it.
posted by griphus at 9:52 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


To Postroad, Jihad does not mean Crusade as the less than helpful chap or chapess following you commented. It comes from the root with the meaning 'to expend efforts'. It has come to be seen recently in a negative light, associated almost purely with terrorist acts, though its correct translation would be "the expending of efforts", that is to say, it is a verbal noun from the same root.
posted by Biru at 11:22 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The New York Post, still classy after all these years.
posted by cazoo at 11:48 AM on March 14, 2010


The word "intifada" has different meanings in English and in Arabic.
In English it has come to have the meaning (more or less) "uprising of the Palestinians against the Israelis." While it may have some different meaning or connotations in Arabic, this is completely irrelevant if the word is used in English or in an English context, such as on a T-shirt worn in NY.
posted by sour cream at 12:13 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The word "intifada" has different meanings in English and in Arabic.
In English it has come to have the meaning (more or less) "uprising of the Palestinians against the Israelis." While it may have some different meaning or connotations in Arabic, this is completely irrelevant if the word is used in English or in an English context, such as on a T-shirt worn in NY.


That's ridiculous on the face of it - we've changed the meaning of the word precisely because the only context in which Americans have heard it is, as she clearly explained, during the various Middle East conflicts.

Because Americans have misunderstood the usage, suddenly it's hors de combat in America? I very much disagree that it's "completely irrelevant", as it goes to the very face of discrimination - we have a very shallow, reinforced understanding of Middle East culture, and part of that reinforcement is driven by allowing ideology to change terminology. We've replaced the original context of the word with our own context, and then condemned those who use the word outside of the limited context we designed for it.

Remember when "rendition" was a musical term, instead of a political term? It's like that - the word has been shaped by the limited, inflammatory context in which it is now used. Should music critics or translators avoid using the term because "rendition" is now used in a very specific context to describe the capture and concealment of political prisoners?
posted by FormlessOne at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, it's not like they got the quotes wrong -- the Jewish Week article seems to confirm she said everything quoted in the NYPost article. I think what happened was wrong, but I don't see anything terribly misleading about her part in the NYPost article
Compare and contrast:
Q: "How do you feel about sex?"
A: Sex can be a good thing, or a bad thing
Q: What about child molesters
A: That's definitely an example of it being a bad thing
---
Q: "I talked with A about child molesters, and she said said "Sex can be a good thing""
Hey, everything Q said was literally true! But it's still, obviously, a lie.
posted by delmoi at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


This isn't like the 'niggardly' incident. The NY Post distorted the sense of what Almontaser said and not just the exact wording. In any case fabricating a direct quote is not okay.

FuManchu, you seem to have forgotten what you wrote earlier
I don't see anything terribly misleading about her part in the NYPost article.

Here's a more detailed article on the court ruling
The article quoted Ms. Almontaser as saying that the girls in the organization were “shaking off oppression,” words that The Post, according to a ruling by federal appellate judges, attributed to Ms. Almontaser “incorrectly and misleadingly.”

I was wrong about the NY Post's questioning BTW. The NY Post interview call was a result of the t-shirt row but didn't directly cover the t-shirts themselves. Basically she was encouraged by the city to give an interview to explain and reassure and the Post used the fact that she had given an interview to put words in her mouth to stitch her up.
posted by Slogby at 2:51 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Remember when "rendition" was a musical term, instead of a political term? It's like that - the word has been shaped by the limited, inflammatory context in which it is now used. Should music critics or translators avoid using the term because "rendition" is now used in a very specific context to describe the capture and concealment of political prisoners?

Of course not, but that's a poor example.
I think a better example might be the word "nigger". The root of which just means "black", without any racial connotations.

Do you think that pointing out that "nigger" just means black makes it a-ok to use it in any context? Similarly, it doesn't matter what "intifada" originally meant in Arabic - what matters is how it is understood by speakers of the language you use the word in. (And if we're talking about NY, that's English, or were the T-shirts in Arabic?)

I also doubt that the intended meaning of the T-shirts was "shake it, shake it"
posted by sour cream at 2:54 PM on March 14, 2010


> I think a better example might be the word "nigger".

If by "better" you mean "not only worse, but deliberately inflammatory." Thanks for doing your part to make this a worse thread.

I just looked up the root نفض (n-f-ḍ) in my Wehr/Cowan dictionary and it says "to shake (s.th.), shake off (s.th. from), shake out," etc. Some derived words are nafaḍ 'that which is shaken off,' nufaḍa 'ague fit, feverish shiver,' and minfaḍ 'sieve, winnow.' Another derived word is intifāḍa 'shiver, shudder, tremor.' Debbie Almontaser 1, NY Post and Other Morons 0.
posted by languagehat at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do you think that pointing out that "nigger" just means black makes it a-ok to use it in any context?

On its own terms, the assertion is foolish. Any fool knows the 'n' word has a vastly different range of meaning and acceptability spoken by someone white than when spoken by a black person when heard by a black person. Which would suggest the 'i' word, either in Arabic or English, means something different and is more or less acceptable to whoever is using and hearing it. Otherwise, I agree with languagehat on the not only worse, but inflammatory part.
posted by y2karl at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2010


Slogby: you seem to have forgotten what you wrote earlier
*smacks forehead* Good call. Let me explain that then: I somehow was operating from two sets of ideas of "misleading" without realizing.

Misleading in the context of the entire article is basically taking her quotes addressing some small subset of an issue and framing them in a larger one that the was not addressed in the interview. This is pretty standard in any antagonistic journalism. I think the article absolutely was that.

Misleading in the context of her words, alone, to me usually means selectively quoting a single soundbite without following caveats, and removing significant statements with ellipses. Also wholesale misquoting. Aside from the last three words, which I'll address below, everyone seems to agree that those words were stated by Ms. Almontaser during the interview, and largely encompassed her answers without leaving out significant caveats.

When I was writing above, I absolutely agreed the article overall was misleading, but felt that the statements themselves were largely intact. Now, let me also say that I see nothing offensive in the quoted statements in the NY Post by themselves. I don't see the quotes as defending the t-shirt at all. I see them as someone trying to discuss and teach about the word and girls without passing any judgments. "The educator in me responded," as she said. I simply cannot see any significant difference between the quotes in the NY Post, and the ways she recounts the dialogue in later articles. That deficiency may be coloring my understanding of the hubbub. I don't see where "The NY Post distorted the sense of what Almontaser said" in her quotes alone. I'm sure the judges went over it with a fine tooth comb, I just can't see it after a dozen readings.


That said, your longer article was great. If she didn't use "shaking off oppression" in the context of the girls, then that was absolutely misquoting her. The ellipses could mean anything there. I just watched the videos, and she muddles through a few different statements about what the girls are doing when recounting the discussion (not "be exploited in the media"). If she did the same thing on the call, I'm sure the reporter grabbed onto or invented whatever he felt like at that point. I can completely see how "shaking off" is worse, and also directly implies a link between her comments on intifada and the girls.

delmoi:
Not quite. She did not condemn the t-shirts, and Slogby's latest article actually makes it clear she resisted taking a stand on it at all. The two problems appear to be (a) combining the word-root discussion with her comments on the girls and (b) substituting "shaking off oppression" for not being "exploited in the media" or whatever she said.


Honestly, I think the biggest trouble is that she didn't condemn the t-shirts. The shirts were begging to be condemned. Anything she said besides "they are a bid idea" would be fit into a "downplayed the significance" narrative. Since she didn't want to condemn them, she shouldn't have said a thing about it at all.

Also, languagehat, is the word intifada used for anything besides the Palestinian Intifadas? My google search for انتفاضة only came up with the uprisings or allusions to more uprisings (through translators, my Arabic from years ago was elementary and always crap). Your descriptivist nature should at least acknowledge whether the original meaning has become deprecated in modern usage.
posted by FuManchu at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2010


This thread is really pissing me off. In America we don't like the word "negro" but in Spanish it just means the color black. If you ask a Spanish language and culture teacher what "negro" means you shouldn't expect to get the history of the US civil rights movement.

"Jihad" means "struggle", as in "jihad against addiction" or "jihad against terrorism". Words have real meanings. This woman tries to help increase understanding and even here on Metafilter people are showing how much her work is needed.
posted by irisclara at 7:23 PM on March 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


The NY Post - first few lines:
CITY PRINCIPAL IS 'REVOLTING'
TIED TO 'INTIFADA NYC' SHIRTS


Activists with ties to the principal of the city's controversial new Arabic-themed school are hawking T- shirts that glorify Palestinian terror, The Post has learned.

The inflammatory tees boldly declare "Intifada NYC" - apparently a call for a Gaza-style uprising in the Big Apple.


I'm sorry, that's flat-out smearing. It's absolutely jam-packed with inflated or nonexistent conclusions and inferences:
- City Principal is 'Revolting'
- tied to Intifada NYC T-shirts
- activists...ties to ... controversial new Arabic-themed school ... T- shirts that glorify Palestinian terror
- the entire next sentence: The inflammatory tees...

This is totally a smear, calibrated to push some already well-worn buttons. the Post deserves to be nailed to the wall for this.

FuManchu intoned;
Honestly, I think the biggest trouble is that she didn't condemn the t-shirts. The shirts were begging to be condemned. Anything she said besides "they are a bad idea" would be fit into a "downplayed the significance" narrative. Since she didn't want to condemn them, she shouldn't have said a thing about it at all.

Also, languagehat, is the word intifada used for anything besides the Palestinian Intifadas? My google search for انتفاضة only came up with the uprisings or allusions to more uprisings (through translators, my Arabic from years ago was elementary and always crap). Your descriptivist nature should at least acknowledge whether the original meaning has become deprecated in modern usage.


Let's dig into that.

I expect that anything she did OTHER than flat out 'condemning' the T-shirts would be construed as support or sympathy, even if she simply refused to comment. Which is PC nuttiness. T-shirts are free expression, a human lifespan is not long enough to 'condemn' every T-shirt that could ever be construed as inflammatory.

Also... has anyone tied these T-shirts to anything other than an opinion? Is there a group called Intifada NYC out there committing crimes or terrorizing other groups? or is it just another provocative and tasteless T-shirt?

And... ffs, the connection is that she belongs to a group who happens to share office space with another group who produced the T-shirt. Can it get more tenuous? Oh wait, she's an Ay-rab too, therefore (dot dot dot).

I'm not a scholar on Arab languages, culture or politics, so I myself don't know the real origins or current usage of the word 'intifada'. But letting opposing groups wrest the word away from its context and insist that its every use in the West implies terror and insurrection is letting that group own and control any debate on the issue, which in this case stokes anti-Arab feelings, and leads to smears such as this.

I fear control of dialogue and the attacking of good people more than I've ever feared any T-shirt.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:44 AM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Your descriptivist nature should at least acknowledge whether the original meaning has become deprecated in modern usage.

Oh, sure, I didn't mean to imply that the Wehr/Cowan definition was the only "correct" one—ma‘ādh Allah! I was just pointing out that her explanation of the root was correct. As for whether "the original meaning has become deprecated," you'll have to ask an Arabic speaker. Me, I'm just a helpful hat.
posted by languagehat at 12:23 PM on March 15, 2010


I'd be interested to see a poll of how many Americans know any definition of intifada. I expect the percentage would be pretty low.
posted by stammer at 12:33 PM on March 15, 2010


I'd be interested to see a poll of how many Americans know any definition of intifada. I expect the percentage would be pretty low.

Aside from what I've learned in the thread and through gathering the links (I am OP and American), my knowledge of the definition of intifada was/is miniscule. I always associated it with rebellion/rock throwing/anger/struggle.
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 1:10 PM on March 15, 2010


What this whole debate does is move the debate to a different point which already presumes that had Almontaser spoken in support of the Intifada, such a statement would be grounds for dismissal, as that would be something that is wholly unacceptable. It is sad that the US is so hostage to the Republican, right-wing Christian, Zionist agenda. In any other country except Israel, and now perhaps France under Sarkozy, the real debate, if at all, would be: what's wrong with publicly stating sympathy for the intifada? That is where this debate should be reset to, in addition to how does one prosecute The Post for libel.

If schools can have "Support Israel Week" and host "Free Tibet" programs, why can't a school make "Support the Palestinian Intifada" t-shirts? The intifada, even in the connotation of the 'uprising' is a movement that has not been declared illegal in the US. Nor is it a terrorist group. It is a movement, which has across the board support in Palestine, and in many parts of the world.
posted by Azaadistani at 1:13 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


T-shirts are free expression, a human lifespan is not long enough to 'condemn' every T-shirt that could ever be construed as inflammatory.

I completely agree with you. I think you're right that even a "no comment" wouldn't have stopped the article, but it would have been less likely to cost her position.

But the reality of the situation in journalism is different. Reporters looking for this kind of story are going to make tenuous connections and look for a tenuous quote to tie into a story. The NY Post wasn't so egregious that Almontaser felt she could sue them for libel. It happens all the time. Michael Moore is often accused of doing similar things. I'd like most people to learn discount those kind of things, though I'm not holding my breath. It's the state of things, people (journalists included) try to talk smack about people they don't like.

Anyone who deals in public relations knows all this. The DoE should have known this. But she walked into the Post's trap herself, too.



As far as thinking people's sensitivities are ridiculous, I also completely agree. Again, I think it's something that won't change quickly. People associate certain things with violence, and that's usually unacceptable. Groups that support Palestine exist, groups that support violent uprisings are shunned. Here in China, a Tibetan or Republic of China flag implies violent separatism, and the Japanese flag violent oppression, where other displays of connection to the regions do not. Good luck explaining the subtleties of your nonviolent support to the average person before the police drag you off.

I had a girlfriend from Europe while at a US university. She wore a keffiyeh one day and got some nasty reactions. I was clueless about those things at the time. My Jewish roommate laughed and had to explain how the keffiyeh had (has) a significantly different meaning in the US.

It's unfortunate that "intifada" is now associated with the violence of the Second Intifada (I guess?). But I don't know how you can get the word to mean "uprising" again, when English already has a word for that.



What this whole debate does is move the debate to a different point which already presumes that had Almontaser spoken in support of the Intifada

Sorry, let me be clear: I'm not supporting that at all. The DoE was wrong to push her out of her position. I've been on about the NY Post too much, which is just doing what rabble-rousers do. It's a bit of "learn from this good person's mistake of trusting those assholes, son."



languagehat: d'oh, I am having reading issues in this thread, I thought your last paragraph was also in response to sour cream. I still don't understand how that quote of hers was interpreted as either wrong or offensive.
posted by FuManchu at 12:37 PM on March 16, 2010


What this whole debate does is move the debate to a different point which already presumes that had Almontaser spoken in support of the Intifada, such a statement would be grounds for dismissal, as that would be something that is wholly unacceptable.

Fu Manchu you cut this quote off in the middle.

Question that has been obscured: What if she had spoken in support of the intifada? Would that be grounds for dismissal?
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 3:16 PM on March 20, 2010


Question that has been obscured: What if she had spoken in support of the intifada? Would that be grounds for dismissal?

Yes. She lost her original suit against the DOE. It's only the EEOC complaint that she's won. In the last appeal the judge said:
Thus, the only question is whether Almontaser can carve out a portion of her statements made during an interview that was arranged and supervised by her employer as the protected speech of a private citizen," the judge said. "When that entire interview owes its existence to Almontaser’s official responsibility to interact with the press on behalf of [her school], then the individual statements made within the conversation also fall within her official—and thus unprotected—speech.
It's dumb but there you go. It doesn't change anything I've said above. I think the DOE could have made an effort to keep her and fight the nonsense. But I've also been told to keep my mouth shut about anything outside of work when talking to people on the job, and that my name better not appear next to a quote in anything published. So I expect repercussions are normal.
posted by FuManchu at 5:13 PM on March 20, 2010


Heh, and looking through the 2nd court's ruling is the gem that other people pointed out to me above:
It is undisputed by the parties that the paper incorrectly and misleadingly added the phrase “and shaking off oppression” to Almontaser’s statement, “I think [the t-shirts are] pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society.
Sad that wasn't enough for a libel suit.


Also in the final ruling:
[T]he Supreme Court’s recognition that employers “need a significant degree of control over their employees’ words and actions” and that the First Amendment does not bar “the exercise of employer control over what the employer itself has commissioned or created.” 547 U.S. at 418, 422. Accordingly, Almontaser’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment and defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Counts I and II of the Second Amended Complaint is granted.
Watch what you say on the job, boys and girls.
posted by FuManchu at 5:29 PM on March 20, 2010


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