The author describes how these institutions built upon Germany’s model of the 19th century, with its combination of research and teaching; how they benefited from America’s early enthusiasm for mass education as a route to social mobility; and how they hit the jackpot in the 1930s, when many brilliant academics in Germany and Austria fled to American universities (some of which had recently been purging Jews from their own academic bodies).So the American universities learned from the Germans, then benefited when the Germans chased out their Jews. Later in the review, however, this thought leads to another:
Certain areas of study, such as climate change, stem-cell research and work on the Middle East, are particularly vulnerable to political pressure. Professor Cole tells how two respected scholars, Joseph Massad at Columbia and Nadia Abu El-Haj at Barnard College, were harassed by the Jewish lobby—and asks what would have happened had American universities given in to rampant institutional anti-Semitism and “resisted hiring the Jewish scientists and scholars from Nazi Germany”?Well, no, not necessarily. The reviewer, and probably the author, assume full freedom of inquiry is always good, and any questioning of it is bad. This overlooks the well documented fact that the free German universities hosted dangerous and increasingly crackpot ideas from the late 19th century, and by the interwar period - in spite of still including many fine teachers including Jews - they were churning out large numbers of the most destructive men history has known. As historians such as Goetz Aly, Sussane Heim, Ulrich Herbert and others have shown, it was the university-trained generation of the late 1920s and early 1930s who gave Nazi Germany its most potent cadres; moreover, it was the universities which were their main spawning ground.
The telephone is morally neutral, as is the Internet. They can be used or misused by people. Strange as it may sound, freedom of inquiry can also be used or misused by people. A careful amount of surveillance of all three is not a bad idea.