To the editor: (12-18-02)

Karen Arenson's article "Star Scholar Fights for his Future at Brooklyn College" (12/18/02) unfairly leaves unchallenged the central criticism against Professor Robert David "KC" Johnson at Brooklyn College: that Johnson is arrogant or uncooperative in dealing with some of his colleagues. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To those of us who have worked on these committees with him and know him well, Professor Johnson is, in fact, exceedingly polite and courteous, and perhaps a bit idealistic, believing that honest debate is what academe and the search for truth is about. His crimes, if that is what they are, are two-fold: he objected as an untenured professor to a Brooklyn College forum on the events of 9/ll because it had no speakers who supported a pro-U.S. or Israeli position; and he insisted that a new faculty hire should be based on merit determined by a careful reading of the candidate's professional file as well as a live presentation. After this, a case against granting him tenure and re-appointment, shot through with procedural violations and factual inaccuracies, was manufactured against him.

In the interest of fairness and accuracy, the Times article should have at least given either Professor Johnson or his numerous supporters at Brooklyn College, who were interviewed, a chance to respond to the main attack on him. As his senior colleagues, we observed many of the discussions that are referred to and only saw Johnson arguing strongly for his point of view, never demeaning or intimidating opponents. Brooklyn College and CUNY need people like Johnson who are not afraid to make the case for their views, even when unpopular, who arouse intense student involvement, and who reach for the highest standards in American higher education.

Leonard Gordon, Professor  of History (Emeritus '02), Brooklyn College
Margaret King, Professor of History, Brooklyn College