Statement on Professor Watchlist from California Scholars for Academic Freedom

POSTED BY HANK REICHMAN

The following statement was released by California Scholars for Academic Freedom:

The newly inaugurated U.S. administration has created an atmosphere of violence, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. A less discussed aspect of these attacks is on academic freedom. The 2016 election has taken to new extremes the threats to academic freedom. We can see a preview of what this administration intends in their response to the recent cancellations of “talks” by professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who engages in public, cruel harassment of students who are critical of his extremist views, from the lectern through trigger cameras that project students’ images without their consent. He then proceeds to taunt them and incite actions against them on the basis of their physical appearance, race, sexuality, and gender. Instead of condemning this kind of incitement, President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from UC Berkeley after Yiannopoulos’ “talk” was cancelled at UC Berkeley and other UC campuses.

We can also see indications of things to come in the lack of condemnation – hence tacit permission – of attacks by the Horowitz so-called Freedom Center on certain University of California campuses for considering establishing themselves as a set of sanctuary campuses. The recent Executive Order in the form of a travel ban on people coming from seven Muslim majority countries (still in the courts) has ensnared students, faculty and visiting scholars who have had their academic lives and careers put into jeopardy as a result of the proposed ban. The absence of international scholars from large parts of the Middle East would severely affect the quality and reach of our educational institutions. Similarly, the anti-immigration bashing and the threat to build a wall with Mexico puts the important DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in jeopardy, directly threatening our undocumented college students. The politically motivated attacks on research scientists working on climate change and fetal tissue research are further indications of a political climate intent on thoroughly trampling over academic freedom.

Furthermore, with regard to academic freedom and free speech, a legislator in the state of Arizona tried to ban all courses that prohibit “state institutions from offering any class or activity that promotes “division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people.” In other words, discussion of social justice should not be part of the educational curriculum. While this bill died before it reached a vote, Arizona already bans the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 education, a law that is being challenged in court. We can expect to see more of these attempts to limit academic freedom in the coming four years. These initiatives are important for us to know and attempt to counteract. These are very direct interventions in our campus lives, potentially putting a chill on our educational atmosphere and affecting academic freedom.

A recently formed “Professor Watchlist” purports to alert students about professors they claim “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.” This watchlist echoes Horowitz’s project, Campus Watch. The latter lists both faculty and students, threatening the latter with slanderous public information for use by prospective employers and the former with threats of violence. The Professor Watchlist names numerous professors from California institutions of higher learning. In response to the Professor Watchlist, faculty from throughout California, at public and private universities, have followed the lead of faculty at the University of Notre Dame, in sending the Professor Watchlist our names to be added to their list. We refuse to be intimidated by such harassment tactics.

Below is a letter we are sending to Professor Watchlist:

We, the undersigned faculty in various universities and colleges in California, write to request that you place our names, all of them, on Professor Watchlist.

We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our California colleagues, such as Professors Bettina Aptheker, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Melina Abdullah, Hatem Bazian and some 20 others, whose work is distinguished by its commitment to reasoned, fact-based civil discourse examining questions of tolerance, equality, and justice. We further note that nearly all faculty colleagues at other institutions listed on your site, the philosophers, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists, rhetoricians, and others, have similarly devoted their professional lives to the unyielding pursuit of truth, to the critical examination of assumptions that underlie social and political policy, and to honoring this country’s commitments to the premise that all people are created equal and deserving of respect.

This is the sort of company we wish to keep.

We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called “dangerous,” reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.

So please add our names, the undersigned faculty from California institutions, many of whom belong to California Scholars for Academic Freedom, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.

Most sincerely,

Ece Algan
Director, Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies
California State University at San Bernardino

Richard P. Appelbaum
Distinguished Research Professor
Sociology and Global Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Paola Bacchetta
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Carole H. Browner
Distinguished Research Professor
Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences,
Anthropology, and Gender Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Edmund Burke, III
Professor Department of History
University of California, Santa Cruz

Lara Deeb
Anthropology
Scripps College

Julia Elyachar,
Anthropology and Economics
University of California, Irvine

Richard Falk,
Fellow, Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
Former Special Rapporteur, UN Human Rights Council

Aranye Fradenburg
Professor, Department of English
University of California, Santa Barbara

Margaret Ferguson,
Distinguished Professor of English,
University of California at Davis

Mayanthi L. Fernando
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Cruz

Gary Fields
Associate Professor, Department of Communications
UC San Diego

Prof. Claudio Fogu
Associate Professor of Italian Studies,
Department of French and Italian
University of California Santa Barbara

Manzar Foroohar
History Professor
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Nancy Gallagher
Professor, History Department
University of California, Santa Barbara

Jess Ghannam
Department of Psychiatry, and
Global Health Sciences
University of California, San Francisco
School of Medicine

Bishnupriya Ghosh
Department of English
University of California, Santa Barbara

Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Professor
Department of Women’s Studies
Advisory Board: Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies
Center for Asia and Pacific Studies
Institute for Security and Conflict Resolution
San Diego State University

Deborah Gould
Associate Professor of Sociology
UCSC

Larry Gross
Professor
School of Communication
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
University of Southern California

Sondra Hale
Anthropology and Gender Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Gail Hershatter
Distinguished Professor of History
History Department
University of California, Santa Cruz

Ivan Huber, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Biology
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Madison, NJ
Member, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Suad Joseph
Distinguished Research Professor
Anthropology Department
University of California, Davis

Zayn Kassam
John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies
Pomona College

Katherine King
Professor, Comparative Literature
University of California, Los Angeles

David Klein
Professor of Mathematics
California State University Northridge

Dennis Kortheuer
Dept. of History, emeritus
Cal State Long Beach

Mark LeVine
History Department
University of California, Irvine

Esther Lezra
Associate Professor Global Studies
Feminist Studies and Comparative Literature Affiliate
University of California, Santa Barbara

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
Department of English
University of California, Riverside

Pardis Mahdavi, PhD
Dean of Women
Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology
Pomona College

Amina Mama
Professor, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
One Shields Ave, University of California,
Davis, CA 95616

Andrew Mathews
Anthropology Department
University of California, Santa Cruz

Flagg Miller
Professor of Religious Studies
The University of California, Davis

Minoo Moallem
Professor, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Helene Moglen,
Professor, Literature
University of California Santa Cruz

Kathleen Moore,
Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies
UC Santa Barbara

Patricia Morton
Editor, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Associate Professor, Art History Department
University of California, Riverside

David Palumbo-Liu
Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor,Comparative Literature
Stanford University

David Naguib Pellow
Dehlsen Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Noam Perry
Department of Justice Studies
Institution: San Jose State University

Ismail Poonawala
Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies
UCLA

James Quesada,
Professor & Chair
Department of Anthropology
San Francisco State University

Nasrin Rahimieh
Howard Baskerville Professor in Humanities
Chair, Department of Comparative Literature
University of California, Irvine

Rush Rehm
Professor, Theater and Performance Studies, and Classics
Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT)
Stanford University

Craig Reinarman
Research Professor and Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Legal Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz

Dwight Reynolds, Professor
Dept of Religious Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

William I. Robinson
Professor of Sociology and
Global and International Studies
University of California-Santa Barbara

Robyn Magalit Rodriguez,
Associate Professor, Asian American Studies,
UC Davis

Lisa Rofel
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Cruz

Parama Roy
Professor of English
University of California, Davis

Danilyn Rutherford
Anthropology Department
University of California, Santa Cruz

Jeffrey Sacks
Associate Professor
Department of Comparative Literature
University of California, Riverside

Sang Hea Kil, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Justice Studies
San José State University

Vida Samiian
Professor of Linguistics
California State University, Fresno

Bhaskar Sarkar
Film and Media Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Susan Slyomovics
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
University of California, Los Angeles

Elizabeth Stephens,
Art Department,
UC, Santa Cruz

Judith Stevenson, Emerita
Phd Anthropology
Peace and Social Justice Program
Department of Human Development
California State University, Long Beach

Baki Tezcan,
Associate Professor of History,
University of California, Davis

Howard Winant
Distinguished Professor of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Stephen Zunes
Professor of Politics
University of San Francisco

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