Professor Douglas Massey shares his recollections of how Dr. Gil-White was treated at the Asch Center


BRIEF NOTE from Francisco Gil-White

Professor Douglas Massey is the former chairman of the Sociology Department at the University of Pennsylvania. He is now Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Past-President of the American Sociological Association and the Population Association of America.

While still at Penn, Pr. Massey sometimes came to the Tuesday lecture series at the Solomon Asch Center, and he was present when I gave my talk, in February 2002, on what really happened in Kosovo.[1] I have asked Pr. Massey to put in writing what he witnessed that day, so that interested readers may see whether I have exaggerated or not when describing the reception I got at the Asch Center for documenting facts that contradict the official positions of the US government.

The text below is from an email that Pr. Massey sent me containing his recollections of that day, and intended for publication. The only correction I would make to Pr. Massey's testimony is that, as per my own recollection, it is too favorable to me. I remember that in reaction to the insults which Pr. Massey records below, I did not remain impassive, and ended up raising my voice as well. There is only a brief allusion to the resulting shouting match in Pr. Massey's email below, and none of the responsibility is laid on me. I think this is a consequence of Pr. Massey having sympathized with a fellow social scientist whose documentation of facts had been deemed offensive merely for having contradicted official US government claims; his sympathy for me may have tilted Pr Massey's recollection somewhat in my favor.

From: "Douglas S Massey" <dmassey@Princeton.EDU> 
To: "'Francisco Gil-White'" <fjgil@PSYCH.UPENN.EDU>
Subject: RE: my job

Dear Francisco:

I do remember the talk you gave at the Asch Center on the situation in
[1] You argued that in the period before and immediately after the break-up of Yuguslavia the Albanians were not really an oppressed minority, but had been in fact subsidized and granted considerable political leeway by successive regimes in Belgrade, in order to keep the union together. The initial impetus toward divisive ethnic politics, you argued, came from the Albanians who launched a secessionist movement long before the disintegration of the Yugoslav state. You also pointed out that the famous "provocative" speech given by Milosovic in Kosovo, which was widely reported in the west to be full of anti-Albanian and pro-Serb ethnic appeals, was actually quite conciliatory in its content. You provided quotes from several independent translations to back up your assertions and demonstrated the usage of incorrect translations and misleading extractions in western outlets.[2]

These assertions were, of course, counter to the story line generally accepted by elite and public opinion in the United States, so I was not surprised that members of the audience expressed skepticism and asked questions. But I was truly shocked at how the hostility toward you escalated as you were able to rebut counter-assertions and document your statements with concrete references to what seemed to me like credible sources. During the last portion of the lecture period, people were shouting at you and questioning both your veracity and integrity as a scholar without presenting any evidence for their accusations. The audience wouldn't let you finish your presentation and lay out your argument, and in the end because of the audience's behavior the talk disintegrated into something of a shouting match.

I personally was appalled at the way you were treated and recall that I attempted to intervene to bring some order and let you finish, but to little effect. I was especially put off by the reception you were accorded because you had obviously done considerable work on the topic, had a clear if provocative argument, and knew your sources well. In terms of its clarity, preparation, logic, and documentation, your presentation was among the best I had seen in a series that all too frequently offered truly dismal presentations unsullied by novel ideas, information, or analysis. I
remember thinking that the comportment of the attendees was wildly at
variance with the usual norms of scholarly courtesy and exchange. I don't know if your troubles started from this day, but I was certainly witness to behavior that made me doubt the value of my continued participation and I began to scale back my attendance at the Asch Seminar accordingly. To this day, the events of that day leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Best wishes,


Douglas S. Massey
Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs
Princeton University



[1] "The Serbs Were Not Oppressing Kosovo Albanians... Quite the opposite"; Historical and Investigative Research; 14 March 2006; by Francisco Gil-White

[2] "How Politicians, the Media, and Scholars Lied about Milosevic's 1989 Kosovo Speech: A review of the evidence"; Emperor's Clothes; 9 February 2002; by Francisco Gil-White.



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