Linguistic Fields 04

International Scientists: Open Letter to Federal President Dr. Thomas Klestil

Dear Mr. President, yet again, the news from Austria has been very disheartening. We have followed with dismay and anger Jörg Haider's statements about Stanley Greenberg's being from the "East Coast", the well-known and pejorative code word for "Jew" in the vernacular of the Austrian and the German right. We have also found Haider's attacks against Ariel Muzicant, the head of the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG), troubling. Particularly tasteless was Haider's lampooning of Muzicant's first name by invoking the detergent "Ariel". 

Haider's manipulation of racist sentiments to serve political ends lay bare the illegitimacy of his claim to be a democrat or an adherent to the basic tenets of Austrian democracy. He hides behind the democratic principle of free speech even as he reviles the democratic cornerstones of fairness and equality by invoking anti-Semitic rhetoric to further his political agenda. It is unbelievable that Haider would resort yet again to such offensive and hateful invective against Jews. His hurtful words are an attack, not only against those named or their co-religionists, but against all Austrians committed to Austria's democracy and its culture of pluralism and tolerance. More disturbing still is the fact that the Austrian government and the country's political class were tardy in reacting to Haider's inflammatory statements, thus leaving Mr. Muzicant and Austria's Jewish Community all to themselves in this hour of need for solidarity and empathy.

Hereby, we would like to register our protest that language such as Haider's is still – or perhaps yet again – "salonfähig" in Austrian politics. We also voice our disappointment concerning the meekness with which Austria's leadership met Haider's contemptible remarks. Lastly, we express our solidarity with Austria's Jewish community and Mr. Ariel Muzicant in this hour of need.


Prof. David Abraham, University of Miami
Lara M. Andersson, PhD, Lund University
Prof. Marc Angenot, McGill University
Prof. Gerd Antos, Martin Luther Universität, Halle-Wittenberg
Prof. Shlomo Avineri, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Henrik Bachner, PhD, Lund University
Steven Beller, PhD, Independent Scholar, Washington, DC
Prof. Michael Billig, University of Loughborough
Prof. Günther Bischof, University of New Orleans
Prof. Chris Candlin, President of AILA, City University Hongkong
Prof. Paul Chilton, University of East Anglia
Prof. Aaron Cicourel, University of California, San Diego
Prof. Bessie Dendrinos, National and Kapodistrian, University of Athens
Prof. Teun van Dijk, University of Amsterdam and Universitat Pomeu Fabra
Prof. Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University
Prof. Carl Djerassi, Stanford University
Robert L. Dupont, PhD, Dean, University of New Orleans
Prof. Geoff Eley, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Philomena Essed, PhD, Senior Researcher, University of Amsterdam
Prof. Manfred Faßler, Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt
Prof. Anna De Fina, Georgetown University
Prof. David T. Goldberg, University of California, Irvine
Hector Grad, PhD, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Prof. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson Stockholms Universiteit
Wilhelm Guschlbauer, PhD, Independent Scholar, Paris
Prof. Peter A. Hall, Harvard University
Prof. Julia Hell, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Prof. Luisa Hirschbein, Université Paris-Sud
Prof. Marc Howard, University of California, Santa Cruz
Prof. Michael G. Huelshoff, University of New Orleans
Prof. Margarete Jäger, Universität Duisburg
Prof. Siegfried Jäger, Universität Duisburg
Prof. Tony Judt, New York University
Prof. David Karen, Bryn Mawr College
Prof. Claire Kramsch, University of California, Berkeley
Prof. Per Linell, Linköping University
Prof. Erich Loewy, University of California, Davis
Prof. Andrei S. Markovits, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Prof. Ulrike Meinhof, University of Southampton
Prof. Gabriella Modan, Ohio State University
Silvia Molina, PhD, Facultad de Letras, Ciudad Real
Prof. Johannes von Moltke, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Gerald Nagler, Präsident, Schwedisches Helsinki Kommittee für Menschenrechte
Monika Nagler Wittgenstein, Präsidentin, Schwedischer Pen Club
Prof. Stig A. Nohrstedt, Örebro University
Prof. Beth S. Noveck, Yale University Law School
Prof. Yumiko Ohara, The National Language Research Institute
Prof. Robert Phillipson, Copenhagen Business School
Prof. Antonio Sousa Ribeiro, University Coimbra
Prof. Kay Richardson, University of Liverpool
Prof. Aviel Roshwald, Georgetown University
Prof. Marsha L. Rozenblit, University of Maryland
Prof. Arne Ruth, Linköping University
Prof. Scott Saft, Tsukuba University
Prof. Bambi Schieffelin, New York University
Prof. Hanna Schissler, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig
Prof. Carl E. Schorske, Princeton University
Prof. Franz Schultheis, Université de Neuchâtel
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, PhD, Roskilde University
Prof. Bernard Spolsky, Bar-Ilan University, Haifa
Prof. Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania
Prof. Michael Steinberg, Cornell University
Prof. George Steinmetz, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Prof. Frank Stern, Ben Gurion University, Be'er Sheba
Prof. Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland
Prof. Liliane Weissberg, University of Pennsylvania
Prof. Steven M. Whiting, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor