Tony Kushner not to be honored by John Jay

Kushner at a recent rally in support of the Belarus Free Theater

It’s graduation season, which means it’s honorary degree season.  Last Friday President Obama got an honorary associate’s degree from Miami Dade College — a first for him, he said, and quite possibly a first for anyone, since honorary doctorates are far more common. Bill Clinton will be getting one of those in July, from Walden University, an online school.

Tony Kushner, Pulitzer-winning playwright, will not be receiving one, however.

John Jay College of the City University of New York had planned to give him an honorary doctorate at its commencement ceremony on June 4. The board of trustees met on Monday to vote on the full list of honorary degree recipients at all CUNY colleges.

At that meeting, one trustee, conservative activist Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, accused Kushner of anti-Israel sentiments. He cited excerpts from Kushner’s writings that had been posted at the website of another conservative activist, Norman Finkelstein.

A majority of the board voted to remove Kushner’s name from the list of all CUNY honorary degree recipients, then voted unanimously to approve the other candidates, tabling the matter until its next meeting. Since that next meeting is at the end of June, after the graduation ceremony, the issue has effectively been decided.

Earlier this year, Wiesenfeld was involved in efforts to have a Brooklyn College adjunct professor fired for what he and Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind saw as anti-Israel views. That professor, Kristopher Peterson-Overton, was fired after Wiesenfeld’s and Hikind’s accusations, but he was then rehired when the college determined that the accusations were politically motivated.

Kushner also sees a political motivation to the decision to rescind the honorary degree, which he called “McCarthyite nonsense” in an interview at You can read his full reaction here.


Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…


Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…


American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…


Judge holds Amber Hellesten for trial on murder…

Amber Hellesten turns 16 next Wednesday, April 30. It could be her first of many birthdays behind bars.


John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…


TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.


Lundqvist, Rangers take control as Flyers falter in…

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away 31 Flyers shots to give the Blueshirts the series edge with a 4-1 victory Tuesday nigh


MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.


Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.


Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.


How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.


Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.


Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.


Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.