What about Roth’s candidate for the original of Coleman Silk, Princeton professor Mel Tumin? The Tumin incident certainly sounds plausible. The absurd persecution of poor Professor Tumin in 1985 may have been one of the precipitating incidents in various Jewish intellectuals’ rebellion against political correctness in the late 20th century. Unlike Tumin’s friend Bellow, who converted to neoconservatism, Roth is widely assumed to be a respectable Nixon-hating liberal. Yet his loathing for political correctness is admirable. For example, Slate has a fun story about Roth denouncing feminists at Bard College as incipient Stalinists.
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