Not one of us?

For those feeling nostalgic about the McCarthy witch hunts some decades ago in the United States, here’s something to bring it all up to date: a conservative pressure group, Turning Point USA, has created what they are calling a ‘Professor Watchlist’. This is needed, they say, because ‘students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls’. A radical agenda for their purposes does not include, as you will immediately have guessed, a radical conservative agenda.

So far the list contains some 130 names. The reasons for inclusion are worth noting. One is there, for example, because she told students that a person’s race may determine their professional success. Another is there because he criticised the idea that civilians should be allowed to carry guns openly. And so on.

The website lets readers submit suggestions for inclusion in the list. Many have done so, not always taking the list seriously. But in the end we must all be concerned about attempts to put public pressure on academics, or their institutions, to limit the expression of views. Joe McCarthy was ultimately defeated, but he needed to be. Let’s not start all that again now.

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3 Comments on “Not one of us?”

  1. jeffollerton Says:

    It’s a concerning development, I agree. The response on Twitter has been to ridicule the Professor Watchlist and send in suggestions for inclusion of fictional and historical professors/teachers, e.g. Dumbledore, Darwin, Jesus, etc. I asked them if they accepted International Visiting Professors – still waiting for a response. Hopefully very few people are taking this list seriously.


    • The problem is that you and I and others of a like mind may not take this seriously, but those holding the levers of power may. I hope I’m wrong.

      • jeffollerton Says:

        I hope you’re wrong too! But it’s not the 50s anymore, the USA is a very different place in many ways, much more liberal over all: remember, more people in the country voted for Hilary than for Donald.


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