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:
- There’s an effort to get me fired at Cornell for criticizing the Black Lives Matter Movement
- Cornell campus climate “so far beyond political correctness”
- Jonathan Turley rips Cornell Law faculty letter against me: “It is the antipathy of the intellectual foundations for higher education”
- Thank you for your support in this time of cultural purge
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.