BY JOHN K. WILSON
At Minding the Campus, Peter Wood’s essay about “The Case for Colonialism” article argues this:
“And perhaps we should not forget the names of those thousands who signed the petitions. It might be a good exercise for deans and provosts who have received from academic search committee recommendations to appoint candidates for academic positions to match those names against the list of signatories. Signing such petitions, after all, is a public declaration of hostility to the very principles that the university say are ‘bedrock.’ A candidate’s name on such a petition at least raises a question of whether such a person is to be relied on to uphold the standards of a free intellectual community.”
This is an extraordinarily alarming and disturbing call for a blacklist. Actually, Peter Wood’s essay raises the question of whether he can be relied on to uphold the standards of a free intellectual community. But that still wouldn’t be a good reason to ban him from being hired as a professor. Professors should be judged on their academic credentials, not their political views (including whether or not they support someone’s view of academic freedom). Nor should professors be banned from jobs for their hostility to “bedrock” principles, whether one thinks those bedrock values are traditional scholarship or diversity or social justice.
A blacklist against scholars who sign petitions criticizing articles is a radical step toward repression. It’s even more alarming because Wood is equating a petition with a threat of violence, which is a despicable smear against people who (even if they might be misguided) merely dislike the content and the process by which this essay was published. The death threats in this incident are a crime, and must be denounced, but Wood’s approach in blaming innocent people makes things worse. Whatever one thinks of The Case for Colonialism, we should all oppose Wood’s Case for Blacklists.
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