An Update On The Professor Jacobson Controversy At Cornell

Last week Professor William Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School who writes a well-respected conservative blog, announced that there was a movement afoot among some faculty and students to get him fired. (Ethics Alarms discussed it here.) Here are Jacobson’s posts since then regarding the ongoing effort to have him dismissed for being critical of Black Lives Matter:

In a related development, the similarly politically incorrect (but so far anonymous) Berkeley history professor I criticized here is now being condemned by the university.

On this development, Professor Turley writes in part,

…. Many of us have complained for years that there is a rising and open intolerance for conservative or libertarian voices on faculties. In my thirty years of teaching, I have never seen the level of open intolerance for opposing views on faculties as I have seen in the last few years. I have spoken with young law professors across the country who say that they feel that they cannot speak openly to colleagues about such issues because they fear they will be fired or punished by their liberal colleagues. Indeed, many faculty are now quite clear in forcing colleagues either support or stay silent on such issues…If they do not, they are threatened with harassment and termination. It used to be that such measures came from students. These measures now come from the faculty itself….. I have always maintained that schools should not take positions on the merits of such controversies even when the vast majority of the faculty may support one view. Professors are always free to sign a letter denouncing the views within such a letter. This alleged faculty member was not speaking for the faculty and it is unclear why the faculty should speak as an institution as opposed to individuals. I would feel the same way if the merits or points of the letter were reversed.

Now Professor Jacobson reports that the Black Student Association are leading an effort to have students boycott his class, with this message to the campus:

Although the law school recently released a statement regarding Professor Jacobson and his blog, we further urge the administration to critically examine the views of the individuals they intend to employ. Faculty members who challenge students to debate them on the motives of those fighting to preserve Black life are clearly more interested in amplifying their own agendas than engaging in thoughtful and reflective discourse. Professor Jacobson has claimed no expertise nor any specialized training on matters of race and racial justice, rendering any future discussions on the matter entirely unproductive. We are not interested in subjecting ourselves and our community members to dialogue that reinforces the false dichotomy of “right” versus “left” when it comes to our humanity.

…Accordingly, the BLSA Executive Board will refrain from participating in the Securities Law Clinic that Professor Jacobson supervises. As the course selection period approaches, we encourage our membership and our allies to reconsider studying under an individual whose views perpetuate hatred towards their fellow students. Thinly veiled racism under the guise of “intellectual diversity” has no place in our law school.

Professor Jacobson concludes, defiantly,

This is not about my writing on the issues, which they misrepresent and distort in the statement they plan on circulating. I’ve offered to debate people on the history and trajectory of the Black Lives Matters Movement, and how much of what takes place under that banner has other goals. That offer of debate has been rejected. What are they afraid of from an open exchange of ideas?

…This is an attempt not just to scare students away from my course, but to scare students away from speaking their minds, and to create a faculty and student purity test. I have received numerous emails from students telling me I have a lot of “quiet” support at the law school, but that students are afraid to speak out for fear of career-ending false accusations of racism. I deeply appreciate the expressions of support, and I understand why you cannot speak out. You don’t want to be subjected to the type of smear campaign to which I have been subjected.

This toxic atmosphere didn’t need to take place. At a time when the law school desperately needs an adult in the room, so to speak, we have faculty and a Dean who denounce me.

This isn’t activism, it’s anti-intellectualism.

I don’t think it will work, and there will be a backlash. The students I’ve encountered over the past 12 years have been, for the most part, curious, intelligent, and willing to The students are why I keep doing this, and why I will keep doing this.

7 thoughts on “An Update On The Professor Jacobson Controversy At Cornell

  1. Cornell Law being a reasonably prestigious school, one wonders what members of the BLSA will do in trial court when confronted with opposing counsel who makes an argument and their only countering argument is “That’s RACIST!”

    We can only hope that judicial appointments – or elections – are granted to judges with a bit more intellectual rigor in hand.

    • AIM

      If this continues we may find juries buying that argument.

      We are getting ever closer to an idiocracy.

      • “Getting closer”? By my calculations, we’re about three weeks away from irrigating farms with Brawndo. The idiocracy is already here.

  2. I have to wonder if people actually believe all these angst ridden groups will suddenly go home and stop protesting everything that does not align with their thinking if Biden gets elected and/ or the Democrats take the Senate.

    I don’t. I bet it will get worse and Nancy and Chuck will ask where did they go wrong when the POC mob crucifies them.

    • I have to wonder if people actually believe all these angst ridden groups will suddenly go home and stop protesting everything that does not align with their thinking if Biden gets elected and/ or the Democrats take the Senate.

      Certainly not any political strategist.

      In fact, if there were a way to imply that Trump would cave in to the radical demands of these angst-ridden groups, Democratic strategists would recommend it as a campaign tactic. (They would certainly advise against adopting the agenda of these radical groups as a campaign platform.)

    • Chris, I think the BLM people have observed the Gay Marriage Rights and Trans Rights movements and are emulating them in this respect: Early on in their efforts both those movements consciously perpetuated the view that gay and trans people are not only equal to straight people, they are SUPERIOR. Remember all the fawning by Hollywood women celebs over how great their makeup guy or their dance partner was and how “adorable” they were with their boyfriend? Remember all the fawning over Bruce Jenner and all the accolades he received for his heroic bravery? The BLM people are pursuing the same strategy. George Floyd was canonized. He’s the father of a child. The guy killed at the Wendy’s was a father of FOUR children, for God’s sake! What a wonderful man! The lesson white people need to learn is that black people are not just equal but vastly superior to white people. Then things will settle down.

      Anyway, that’s my grouchy take this morning.

  3. Have you checked out this column by David French?

    Here is an excerpt.

    For example, if you’re a conservative, you’re likely quite aware that the Obama Department of Justice decisively debunked the “hands-up, don’t-shoot” narrative of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. You’re less likely to remember that there was a second Ferguson report, one that found Ferguson’s police department was focused on raising revenue more than increasing public safety, and it used its poor, disproportionately black citizens as virtual ATMs, raising money through traffic stops, citations, and even arrest warrants. It painted a shocking picture of abuse of power.

    Here is my comment.

    I remember when there was so much focus on police brutality and asystemic racism from 2015-2016.

    Then it suddenly disappeared around the fall of 2016.

    Indeed, when some lowlife gangbanger gunned down a bunch of kids in 2017, people were asking for gun control now, were saying that only law enforcement should have access to assault weapons and high capacity magazines, forgetting that many of them said these law enforcement officers were racistically gunning down unarmed black men.

    One reason, of course, is that a huge chunk of the electorate has an attention span barely more than that of a toddler’s.

    But another reason is the truth behind the Michael Brown shooting. It was the shooting that was the front and center case for the #HandsUpDontShoot narrative. People understandably were not receoptive to claims of systemic rqacism and lack of police accountability, and few of them voiced these kind of objections when gun control laws were being proposed.

    Similarly, when some New York legislators proposed using a search of social media posts to vet applicants for gun licenses, ostensibly to search for evidence of gang membership as a basis for denying a permit, few asked how systemic racism would affect the enforcement of such laws.

    Perhaps it will be different this time.

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