I agree with Kate that such attitudes are false; unfortunately I am not astounded. I wish I were, but it is too common.
I do not see, however, what this has to do with an issue of praising Judeo-Christian literature. That was never said by anyone in this thread. Since I have spent a lifetime teaching it, I don't see how it is in competition with other literatures, though I do wish I had much better language skills and could read others in original languages. I also do not share Gene's concern about the divisiveness of objecting to a Muslim student having to listen to any discussion of the lyrical power of Judeo-Christian literature. The power of literature that happens to be in such a category is not due to its being Judeo-Christian, and who, on this list at least, ever suggested one should not read it? I assume that a Christian who somehow had to listen exclusively to praise of the power of Muslim or Hindu or any other literature--if said as somehow the greatest--might also be distressed. But the offensiveness of Spurr's nasty name-calling of whole groups is not based on his teaching Eliot. 
However, historically, it is not the case that a woman who wrote poetry was a poet first and a woman poet second. If only that were the case. But read the work of any early woman poet--up to mid-twentieth-century at least--on how they feel the need to be silent, how they are castigated for writing, how women can't write anyway. It is everywhere in women's work. And the emergence of great women poets in the last century in America does not mean it is true everywhere. One's personal lack of prejudice is not matched by cultural treatment of women's writing. (Dickenson is almost the only exception, and her fame came after her death--and her texts as she wrote them rather than as "corrected" by a male editor--came even much later.)
It remains problematic whether any poet can truly be simply and absolutely a poet first. That includes a male poet. Culture, experience, forms of knowledge and sources do affect one's writing. And that is not separable from being in any culture or situation where there are "no poets" who are, say, women or Muslims, or Black or whatever. Too much has been written by women and minorities about the painful difficulty of trying to write in a world where they are invisible to simply dismiss the idea that anyone can be just a poet "first." Try Langston Hughes's "Theme for English B" or Adrienne Rich's own commentary on "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" or Eavan Boland's "The Journey."

>>> Kate Nichols  12/21/14 10:58 AM >>>
I just have no understanding of people who believe that certain "groups" of
people are inferior. No, that is actually not true.  I understand to an
extent an uneducated, unthinking person raised in such beliefs, but for an
intellectual to hold such views is astounding to me.

On Sun, Dec 21, 2014 at 5:40 AM, David Boyd  wrote:

> Just to add, my pal in Australia, who's a senior court Judge, has drawn my
> attention to this too, and seems as bemused himself about latest
> developments as he was about the hysterical hue and cry in the 'popular'
> Press when this first came to light.
> And, by the way, Nancy, please don't get any further enraged, my mention
> of the Thought Police wasn't particularly directed at you, but at the
> aforementioned press etc vilification. A colleague has been revisiting
> George Orwell recently, discussion of which probably spawned the particular
> reference. ( We were discussing the Orwellian use of euphemisms in HR
> management, such as 'right sizing' for firing people as redundant / no
> longer required or 'letting go' for simply firing people. A
> particularly-chilling and sinister example of same turned up as
> )
> Sent from my iPad
> > On 21 Dec 2014, at 06:25, [log in to unmask] <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > May I suggest that this discussion is focused too much on the individual
> and less upon the division between Judeo-Christian literature and all
> other(s) as reported in the original article in the Telegraph.  Assuming
> the professor's emails were intended to be racist and malicious, the
> article then quotes the owner and editor of New Matilda (where the story
> broke) writing on his website:
> >
> > "Can you imagine how a female student, an Asian student, a Muslim
> student or, God forbid, an Aboriginal student might feel sitting in a
> lecture theatre listening to Professor Spurr wax lyrical about the power of
> Judeo-Christian literature?"
> >
> > Isn't that as divisive, as unfair, as narrow-minded a comparison?
> >
> > I pity those who group literature using gender, race, sexual propensity,
> national origin and any other categories; and worse those in academia and
> journals who insist on measuring literary greatness commensurate with its
> representation of such groups.
> >
> > And yes, as Jim points out, the internet is porous and perhaps one day I
> may have to defend what I have written in this email thread, but that task
> is simple, as everyone here knows my opinion of the first test of a poet's
> greatness:  I shall simply read Eliot aloud (or Milton or Arnold or any of
> the other Judeo-Christian poets.)  The words speak most eloquently and
> passionately and intelligently for themselves.  If a great poet is female,
> she is first a great poet and then a great poet who is female.
> >
> > Sent from my iPhone
> >
> >> On Dec 20, 2014, at 3:19 PM, Nancy Gish  wrote:
> >>
> >> Ken,
> >> Apparently you are right: you don't know what it is.
> >> I think this insistence on treating his behavior as simply ok is a form
> of thought police (if we are to use such odious terms), and that the lack
> of caring is a genuine problem. That he said those things is not
> speculation at this point.
> >> And open society is one in which what is wrong can be publically
> stated, not one that must silence any challenge to vicious behavior. It is
> open in both directions. Thought policing is the shutting down of any
> objection to wrong, not simply making a judgment. The Romans were good at
> it--hence crucifixion.
> >> And no one had to hack his email: universities, like other
> institutions, can see what is on their emails. That may be a bad thing--in
> fact it no doubt is. But that has nothing to do with the hateful content of
> what he wrote. And I repeat that if he thought it a joke, that is even
> worse.
> >>
> >>
> >> Nancy
> >>
> >>>>> Ken Armstrong  12/20/14 3:01 PM >>>
> >> In the mid-sixties, I had a German professor of German who could
> >> barely contain his contempt for his American students and the inferior
> >> culture from which they arose. Stiff-necked and haughty to a T, he
> >> didn't conduct a class that was much fun to be in or, IMHO, much
> >> conducive to learning, often commenting on how dissatisfied he was with
> >> his students and belittling individuals for failing to meet his
> >> standards. I'm not sure now whether it was lost on him that he was free
> >> to operate in that manner in an open society that not only didn't punish
> >> him for his bearing toward his students, but promoted him to full
> >> professor. I have no idea what kind of classroom Spurr conducted, but
> >> I'm pretty sure today he knows he was not operating in an open society
> >> in which he was free to conduct a private conversation over a medium
> >> held by the university. Convicting him of anything more than that is
> >> pure speculation.
> >>
> >> I don't care at all for the "game" he was playing, but I'm not about
> >> to pretend that I know what it meant in any depth whatsoever for either
> >> his public or his private life. Virtually any fact in isolation can be
> >> used against its owner. So  I care even less for the abstract judgement
> >> that his private conversation constituted the prelude to cruelty,
> >> whether or not he engaged in it (!), and therefore justified his
> >> dismissal. If that isn't thought policing in action, I don't know what
> >> is. Is it known whether the party or parties who hacked his email
> >> account have met with sanctions?
> >>
> >> Ken A
> >>
> >>> On 12/20/2014 1:50 PM, P wrote:
> >>> Still sad.
> >>> Jesus would forgive and say 'go and sin no more'.
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Nancy Gish  wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> I think I understood it fine the first time--especially later when
> linked to "needless." But his resignation is hardly sad at all. When anyone
> says these kinds of things, and even worse when they imagine it a "joke,"
> their resignation is a reason to be glad--to celebrate in fact. The only
> thing one could call "sad" is that he or anyone ever said those things (and
> the emails are not really in question or they would not have been made
> public and he would not have resigned). I would think 20th-century history
> would have taught us that.
> >>>> But neither his resignation nor the story as a whole is sad. The
> resignation is good, and the story is one of good and evil, not mere
> sadness. Yet he had the presumption to write about Christianity; can anyone
> imagine Jesus saying, thinking, or validating such language? I have to
> doubt that he understood Christianity in any spirit that included Christ.
> >>>> And, Peter, you very often post lines to the effect that I do not
> "understand" totally obvious things. I teach poetry and rhetoric: I really
> do get it the first time. Perhaps you might try a refutation on ideas
> instead of personal comments.
> >>>> Nancy
> >>>>
> >>>>>>> P  12/20/14 1:28 PM >>>
> >>>> I guess you don't understand the word 'sad'.  That is also sad.
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> Nancy Gish  wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>>> Did any of you who think this is "sad" or "needless" read what he
> actually said? Did you think what that means for any student in his classes?
> >>>>> Faculty who say deeply bigoted and hateful things are what is sad,
> and they have no place in a classroom. Even he seems to have realized how
> extreme and wrong he was, since he simply accepted.
> >>>>> How many of you would sit in a classroom with someone who called
> Christians human rubbish tips or men pricks or white people honkies or
> Brits "the scum of the earth"? Doesn't that include some of you?
> >>>>> This kind of language is not a joke and not without terrible damage:
> it is the begining of patterns of cruelty--whether he engaged in it or not.
> When humans want to hurt and hate, they start with dehumanizing names. And
> it would get anyone in any university I have been in (four) dismissed.
> >>>>> I am astonished to see this treated as somehow a wrong to him.
> >>>>> Nancy
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Peter Dillane  12/20/14 7:34 AM >>>
> >>>>> He had his day in court last week suing the website but he settled
> on the basis they could keep up what was already up and they agreed not to
> publish any more so one might suppose there was more extravagant stuff to
> come ;  the next day he offered his resignation and it was accepted without
> comment
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Pete
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Sent from my iPhone
> >>>>>
> >>>>>> On 20 Dec 2014, at 10:18 pm, David Boyd  wrote:
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>> It is - a needless loss.
> >>>>>>
> >>>>>>> On 20 December 2014 at 03:43, P  wrote:
> >>>>>>> That's sad.
> >>>>>>> Peter M.
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>> "Rickard A. Parker"  wrote:
> >>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> The Telegraph
> >>>>>>>> By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney
> >>>>>>>> 2:22PM GMT 18 Dec 2014
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Australia's first professor of poetry resigns over leaked racist
> emails
> >>>>>>>>
> >>>>>>>> Professor Barry Spurr, an expert on T S Eliot who helped to write
> Australia's school curriculum, resigns over controversial leaked emails


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