Saving Academic Freedom from Trump’s “Post-Truth” Nation

BY ANDRE PERRY

This blog post originally appeared as a column in The Hechinger Report on November 22, and appears here with the author’s permission. Guest blogger Andre Perry is the former founding dean of urban education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Author Andre Perry at Pitch NOLA competition. Photo by Marcus Carter.

The world is not flat; dinosaurs didn’t walk with humans and white supremacy is built on a foundation of lies to preserve power and racial hierarchies.

If we are going to find cures for cancer, global warming and racism we have to maintain the integrity of our institutions of learning.

Tenure – giving a teacher or professor an appointment until retirement – provides a firewall of protection so our professors and teachers can pursue what makes civilization progress.

Oxford Dictionaries picked “post-truth” as its word of the year for 2016 because so many are choosing narrative over fact. Denying reality can get you elected President of the United States. From refusing climate change to exaggerating voter fraud to promoting birtherism, Trump didn’t just put American electoral politics in peril by denying truth; he puts truth itself at greater risk as his power grows.

Because power is truth’s biggest enemy, the professors and teachers whose jobs are to defend, pursue and teach truth are vulnerable to attack. When our truth tellers lose jobs and/or security, community and education suffers. Just as high school textbooks offered one-sided, nationalistic views on Reconstruction, McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, the fallout of a Trump victory will be felt in college and K-12 classrooms.

In particular, colleges and universities provide our nation with the intellectual byproducts for which we use for our cultural and economic growth.

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