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American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein

American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein

I came to learn of a new documentary that has recently come out entitled, American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein.  It chronicles the life of American political scientist Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of parents who survived the holocaust.

For those that are not familiar with Dr. Finkelstein, he used to be a professor at DePaul University before he was denied tenure in 2007.  Through his academic work, he is best known as one of the greatest opponents to the occupation of Palestine and a fervent critic of Israel and the United States vis a vis Palestine.  It is speculated that because of his critique of the Israeli and US body politic through his academic work and a famous debate with himself and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on Democracy now that DePaul regarded Finkelstein as being ultimately a liability to the University.  Dr. Finkelstein has written 5 books, all of which have gained a significant amount of notoriety.  Finkelstein, a Jew himself, was banned from entering Israel in May of 2008, citing Finkelstein as being a security threat which landed him a ban from Israel for ten years.

I have not yet seen the film but based on the trailer, it seems to offer a fascinating look into the life of one of America’s foremost scholars.  The film shows clips of various confrontations with anti-Palestinian protesters during his talks, chronicles the whole DePaul University debacle and interviews people close to him and even those that are enemies of Dr. Finkelstein, including Professor Dershowitz, who many claim is the primary reason why Dr. Finkelstein was overlooked for tenure.

The film first premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival on September 17 , 2009 and is slated to premier in Europe at the Scheffield Doc Fest on November 4, 2009.  The film has also been chosen to premiere at the Montreal International documentary Festival on November 11, 2009.

Have a look at the trailer and if you get a chance, go and see the film.

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Finding Myself

October 22, 2008 5 comments

So there has been this thought in the back of my mind for the past few years or so.  And over the past month or so, well basically since school has started, I have become increasingly intoxicatedwith the idea that pursuing the career path of a University professor might actually be my calling in life.  For some odd reason, perhaps because I am on the verge of graduating, this idea becomes stronger and stronger by the day.  It is now coming to the point where I am no longer able to dismiss it from my mind.  Everyday, when I walk down the halls of my campus, I get this rush, this feeling inside of me that tells me that this is the place for me.  Every time I encounter a passionate professor, every time I study late night at the library, every time I encounter anything to do with student life, I become increasingly intoxicated.  It has come to the point where I need to address this feeling and just go with it. 

The persuit of knowledge, the exchange of ideas is something that I have always got a high from.  Just the fact that the world in which we live in can be changed through a simple idea rocks my world.  When I learn about a new theory or a new idea, I get so excited that I need to sit there and talk to someone about it.  I get this urge to share these ideas and try and get people to open their eyes and open their minds.  I am not sure how it is supposed to feel, but if this is how a calling in life feels, than this very well might be it. 

I came one step closer to coming to a realization that academia is my calling.  I was with a friend last night and both he and I were sitting in this amazingly designed building late at night.  He was studying for an exam and I was researching a topic for an essay.  I decided to take a break.  After surfing the net looking up useless things, I came across what I consider to one of the hidden jewels on the Internet, ted.com

Ted.com is a website that is dedicated to spreading ideas.  In fact the slogan of the site is actually, “Ideas worth spreading.”  The site essentially comprises of great thinkers of our world who are asked to speak for 18 minutes on a topic or subject on which they specialize in.  They have different categories and themes that people speak on.  Topics such as politics, sociology, psychology, science and every other discipline are discussed in front of an appreciative audience. 

Ted.com may be my new drug.  And it may be the very thing that inspires me to persue a masters and eventually a PhD. 

I sat there last night, watching some of these lectures and I was amazed at how passionate some of these people are about the fields that they study and how articulate they are in presenting these ideas to other people.  It was literally magical. 

I watched a lecture by Carolyn Porco who is a planetary scientist.  She was speaking on Saturn and she actually said that she was getting goosebumps just talking about it.  It almost drove me to tears.  Her presentation in particular in front of TED got me thinking that night…I could literally be her.  I could be the one that spreads my ideas and gets shivers down my spine and goosebumps when I eventually get to share these ideas.

I don’t want to be one of those people that looks back at his life and regrets not at least flirting with such a strong desire to see if it was actually possible.  And I know in the back of my mind that it could very well be possible.  I mean, there really isn’t any reason for it not to happen.  It might not be as prestigious as a career in Law but I honestly believe that if I choose the path of a professorship that I could actually live a life of happiness and fulfillment. 

It’s going to be an interesting year folks, that is for sure. 

On a side note, please, PLEASE visit this site.  I am sure a lot of you people will enjoy it.  It’s been around for two years or so and I am so surprised that I didn’t come across this before.  It is anything but a waste of time.