In a recent statement, University of Florida President Ben Sasse addressed the issue of “endless online screaming” and refuted the claim made by Rep. Randy Fine that there was an antisemitic professor at UF. Sasse stated that Fine’s allegation was false and that the lawmaker was aware of this fact.
On the social media platform X, a professor from the University of Florida has been accused of making a controversial statement. According to the post, the professor compared Israel’s efforts to eradicate Hamas with Germany’s treatment of Jews. The post further suggests that the professor’s comments violate a Florida law that requires her termination. The situation has sparked outrage and calls for action to be taken.
— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) November 17, 2023
Sasse reassured Fine that there’s no need to worry, as the professor who allegedly imposed “despicable antisemitic garbage” on UF students hasn’t received any payment from UF since 2019.
In a recent post addressed to UF “cabinets and deans,” Sasse criticized a certain professor for a post that he described as “thirsty” and “attention-desperate.” Although he did not mention the professor’s name or Fine, Sasse referred to the post as clickbait that the lawmaker knew was not true.
According to Fine, he strongly desires that Sasse would show the same level of commitment in combatting antisemitism at UF. Fine expressed that he brought the offensive Facebook post to the attention of one of UF’s lobbyists, but received no response other than a mere acknowledgement of its awfulness.
According to Fine, there are Jewish leaders in the Orlando area who are expressing their displeasure about the professor’s social media posts. This is due to her online profile that indicates her affiliation with UF.
When reached by Florida Politics, Fine stated that Sasse’s post was the initial indication he received that Zoharah Simmons had not been employed there since 2019.
Fine criticized Sasse for talking too much and not doing enough to combat antisemitism. He pointed out that Zoharah Simmons is listed on the UF’s religious studies and women’s studies pages as a professor emerita, which is an honorary title given to retired professors. Fine also noted that Simmons’ affiliation with UF is current.
According to her bio posted by the national nongovernmental organization, Children’s Defense Fund, she presently holds the position of assistant UF professor as of November 2022.
According to Fine, it seems like UF’s new president is still getting the hang of things. Just two weeks ago, Sasse was officially inaugurated as the university’s 13th president.
According to Fine, his intention was to safeguard his university’s reputation and combat anti-Semitism, rather than making baseless attacks on the Legislature’s members. However, he acknowledges that the new job may require a learning curve.
According to Sasse, this incident presents an opportunity to learn about the importance of free speech and discussing ideas with humility and compassion. He emphasized the need to respect every individual’s dignity, a value that terrorist groups like Hamas reject.
According to him, social media has its downside, and he cautions that posts like the ones he indirectly refers to (without revealing their identity) are a prime example of it.
According to Sasse, excessive use of social media can have detrimental effects on people’s cognitive abilities and can lead to individuals showcasing foolish behavior. He also highlights that one of the biggest challenges of our time is the temptation to give attention to those who engage in online screaming, thereby enabling them to continue their disruptive behavior. Sasse further adds that individuals who draw attention to online idiocy are not contributing anything beneficial to society, but rather are adding fuel to the fire by providing a platform for senseless and irrational arguments.
On Monday, there was no comment available from Zoharah Simmons, who has made Facebook posts claiming that Israel is not telling the truth about the killing of Jewish civilians by Hamas on October 7th.
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