Inky reader “Melissa” e-mails to comment on our post about the return of Cynthia McKinney–the gal who virtually accused President Bush of knowing about the 9/11 attacks in advance–to her seat as a Georgia Democratic representative in Congress. (See Cynthia McKinney–She’s Baaack!, Dec. 28.) Melissa writes:

“Please remind your readers that my beloved alma mater Cornell University hired McKinney as a visiting professor. I wrote to the President and told him the University would not see a dime of my money until he apologized for this ridiculous action. Never heard back. Despite my love for the place, I want people to be reminded again and again.”

Good point, Melissa. Although McKinney has no known academic credentials (such as a doctorate or maybe even a master’s degree) for a professorial position, she’ll be teaching young Cornellians until 2006 under the terms of her 2003 appointment. Both she and John Pilger, a “Bush Is Hitler” columnist for the U.K.’s ultra-liberal Guardian newspaper (they’re the folks who tried to swing Ohio for John F. Kerry), have three-year appointments as Cornell’s Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of ’56 professors, an honor that until recently went to distinguished but nonpartisan scholars and achievers. Just what McKinney will be teaching at Cornell the Lord only knows: perhaps her reminiscences about her days of schmoozing with Louis Farrakhan and former Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, or her many trips abroad to denounce Bush after her constituents dumped her in 2002 for her 9/11 remarks.

What’s interesting is, as the Cornell Review, the campus conservative newspaper reported, not many Cornell students–or faculty–have been all that enthusiastic about McKinney’s appointment. Cornell Review columnist Jamie Weinstein wrote:

“Not a single letter to the editor in the [Cornell] Sun [the university’s official newspaper] could be found in support of Cynthia McKinney. There is no doubt that the Sun would have printed one if there were any. In fact I am surprised the Sun didn’t scour the campus looking for someone who was at least slightly literate and slightly in favor of McKinney to pen a letter. If they did, their effort came to naught.

“The only positive reaction McKinney got was the moderately positive response to her appointment by the Sun’s editorial board. In one Sun editorial by the Sun staff, the paper declared that the University ‘will benefit from McKinney, despite controversy.’ Later in the week in the Sun’s weekly Heroes and Villains segment, the Sun staff waffled on what to label Ms. McKinney (either heroic or villainous), so they settled on ‘VILL-OIC”a blend of villainous and heroic. All and all, I don’t think one could consider this such a stellar defense.

“On the other side there were many anti-McKinney letters to the editor. The paper printed at least four, but one must assume that more letters came in than could be printed due to space. Anyways, among the more pithy letters was that of Professor Emeritus Peter Swartz. His comments left everyone wondering what he thought about McKinney. He stated in full: ‘The selection of Cynthia McKinney as a Class of ’56 professor is an affront to the intellectualism of Cornell University. Ms. McKinney is a racist and anti-Semite of the first rank. If she were white and male, she would be David Duke. It is unfortunate that the selection committee was so open minded that its collective brain fell on floor.'”

McKinney, whose other main target besides Bush is Israel, made it a top priority to explain why it’s unfair to call her anti-Semitic. The Cornell press office issued this release soon after her appointment:

“During a press conference Nov. 20, McKinney made an effort to clear the record, saying that the ‘[Jewish] Anti-Defamation League has said I am not anti-Semitic’ and that the term should only be ‘reserved for the most heinous behavior.'”

In other words, it’s OK to be a little anti-Semitic as long as you’re not heinous.