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academic free speech: blm dissent edition

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At Inside Higher Education, Jonathan Zimmerman has a great essay on why professors should support other professors who voice unpopular views. He focuses on the case of Harald Uhlig, the Chicago economics professor who, quite simply, thinks Black Lives Matter is lame. In summary, Uhlig thinks BLM has completely unrealistic goals, he implies that BLM protesters are childish, and he compared them to flat earthers. Soon thereafter, there were calls by many prominent economists to have him removed from his position as the editor of the Journal of Political Economy and some alumni accused him of racist actions in the class room.

Zimmerman thinks people should lay off:

What I cannot accept is the way they called for his head, which is different from criticizing his comments. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago cut ties with Uhlig, who had been a consultant in its research department. And economists around the country demanded that he step down as editor of his journal, arguing that his tweets had made him morally unfit at such a charged political moment.

Zimmerman then goes through the long, and tragic history, of people trying get professors fired for a wide range of actions, such as criticizing America’s role in World War I and arguing that the Cold War had gone too far. He concludes on a powerful note:

I say that as an unabashed ally and supporter of BLM, which has done more than any other organization to expose and challenge racism in policing. But it doesn’t need to rest of us to police the university on its behalf. That patronizes the movement, all in the guise of protecting it.

So if somebody else gets hit for criticizing Black Lives Matter, stand by them. It is not a time to lecture them about what you think they did wrong. They need your support, not your moralizing and sanctimoniousness. And we’re all in this together.

Well said.

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Written by fabiorojas

June 29, 2020 at 12:46 am

Posted in uncategorized

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