Scholars ask to have their names added to ‘Professor Watchlist’

Activism

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 [David] 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 (blocked by an appeals court) 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 studentsThe 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 proposed a bill that would prohibit state institutions from offering any classes or activities that “advocate solidarity” or “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 and the insidious, anonymously sponsored Canary Mission. 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
University of California, 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
University of California, Santa Cruz

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 University of California, Davis

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
University of California, 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
San Jose State University

Ismail Poonawala
Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

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
University of California, Davis

Lisa Rofel
Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Cruz

Parama Roy
Professor of English
University of California, Davis

Danilyn Rutherford
Professor, 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
University of California, Santa Cruz

Judith Stevenson
Emerita, Ph.D 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

About California Scholars for Academic Freedom

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (CS4AF) is a group of scholars who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.

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6 Responses

  1. RoHa
    February 20, 2017, 10:05 am

    “The newly inaugurated U.S. administration has created an atmosphere of violence, ”

    As far as I can tell, the atmosphere of violence was created by the opponents of the new administration.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 20, 2017, 1:16 pm

      RoHa, did you hear about the terrorist attack in sweden?

      • Mooser
        February 20, 2017, 2:19 pm

        “RoHa” and I will always have last night in Sweden to treasure.

      • Maghlawatan
        February 20, 2017, 2:29 pm

        It was brutal

      • RoHa
        February 20, 2017, 5:52 pm

        No. I have heard about some newspapers lying that Trump referred to a terrorist attack, but not about an actual attack. But what has that to do with the atmosphere of violence?
        Some of the rhetoric of the anti-Trump opposition seems to have invoked violence, and some of the demonstrators have been violent.

  2. just
    February 20, 2017, 6:12 pm

    Simply superb, ~ all of you distinguished Professors. May many more Profs add their names. Soon.

    Perhaps this will interest some folks here:

    “Israel Trip (via Passages)

    Join Turning Point USA activists for a once-in-a-lifetime 10-day trip to Israel to learn about America’s #1 ally in the Middle East.

    The itinerary includes visits to foundational biblical sites, as well as sites relevant to the history of the modern Jewish state. Participants will hear from a diverse set of speakers and local people throughout who will help the student understand Israeli culture, government and economy, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and geopolitical and security issues surrounding Israel.”

    Learn more and apply at: http://www.tpusa.com/IsraelTrip.

    Who is “Passages”?

    “WHO WE ARE

    A trip to Israel is in essence a rite of passage for every Christian – a pilgrimage in the truest sense. The origins of both ancient Biblical faith and of a modern day miracle intersect here. The land and the people of Israel have a story to tell. By coming to Israel, you make Israel’s story part of your own story.

    Sponsored by the Philos Project and the Museum of the Bible Foundation, Passages offers Christian college students with leadership potential a fresh and innovative approach to experiencing the Holy Land. Participants will encounter the roots of their Biblical faith first-hand and come face to face with the modern-day miracle that is Israel. Upon their return, participants will have opportunities to build upon their trip experiences by engaging in further leadership training, with an end goal of being an informed voice for both their Christian faith and for Israel.

    WHY CHRISTIAN COLLEGE STUDENTS?

    As mentioned above, we aim to take Christian college students with leadership potential to Israel. We believe strongly in investing in the next generation of Christian leaders. If you’re reading this and you’re a Christian college student, you will be the ones who pastor churches, lead ministries and businesses, develop foreign policy, run for office and everything in between! …”

    https://passagesisrael.org/about-us/

    So Dershowitz isn’t on the ‘watchlist’, but the esteemed Rashid Khalidi is.

    “Rashid Ismail Khalidi (Arabic: رشيد خالدي‎‎; born 1948) is a Palestinian American historian of the Middle East, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University,[1] and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He also is known for serving as editor of the scholarly journal Journal of Palestine Studies.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashid_Khalidi

    Remember this, too:

    “…Founded in 2015, likely with pro-Zionist funding, Canary Mission has created profiles of more than 500 university students and more than 50 faculty who support Palestinian civil rights or the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel.

    The website routinely accuses those it profiles, without evidence, of support for terrorism or of anti-Semitism. It explicitly seeks to get them fired from current jobs or to prevent them from being hired in the future by tweeting Islamophobic (and sexist) smears to employers.

    Canary Mission itself was boosted into existence by one very successful example of university blacklisting: Steven Salaita.”

    https://socialistworker.org/2016/12/15/trump-and-the-rise-of-the-new-mcarthyites

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