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NYU professor and Heterodox Academy Founder Jonathan Haidt has published four lessons for professors looking to avoid the wrath of the leftist campus mobs that have taken universities hostage over the past several years.
Writing in a blog post for the Heterodox Academy, the online coalition of academics interested in increasing viewpoint diversity in American universities that he founded in 2015, Haidt provides four lessons for academics seeking to better understand the often irrational leftist mobs that have seized control of campuses around the country over the past several years.
In response to what he calls a “witch hunt” against Heterodox Academy member and Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein, Haidt lays out four lessons that reflect the behaviors and practices of the students that seek to have academics and administrators fired for disagreeing with the progressive movement’s progressive narrative.
Haidt’s first lesson, abstain from objecting to diversity initiatives, has proved costly for violators on several campuses around the country. Professor Paul Griffiths of Duke University was forced to resign after being subjected to two disciplinary hearings after gently pushing back against mandatory diversity training in an eloquently-written email.
1) Never object to a diversity policy publicly. It is no longer permitted. You may voice concerns in a private conversation, but if you do it in a public way, you are inviting a visit from a mob or punishment from an administrator.
Progressive professors at Evergreen State College and Yale University have learned the hard way about Haidt’s second lesson, which is that left-leaning faculty should not feel that their political persuasions will protect them from the leftist mob.
2) Do not assume that being politically progressive will protect you (as Weinstein and the Christakises found out). Whatever your politics, you are eventually going to say or do something that will be interpreted incorrectly and ungenerously. Your intentions don’t matter (as Dean Spellman found out at CMC.) This is especially true if your university offers students training in the detection of microaggressions.
Haidt’s third lesson recently played out at Evergreen State College, where the institution’s president sided with most of the demands of the irrational campus mob that informally called for Professor Bret Weinstein’s resignation and formally called for his suspension without pay. Such acts from administrators only serve to validate the narrative of the protesters.
3) If a mob comes for you, there is a good chance that the president of your university will side with the mob and validate its narrative (as the presidents at Yale and Evergreen have done, although the presidents at Middlebury and Claremont McKenna did not).
Haidt’s fourth lesson reminds professors that leftist campus mobs are often violent. Texts like George Sorel’s Reflections on Violence are frequently assigned to students and normalize the practice of political violence. Although he concedes that the majority of students will be non-violent, some will likely believe that violence is morally justifiable.
4) If a mob comes for you, the great majority of its members will be non-violent. However, given the new standard operating procedure (which I described in a recent Chronicle article entitled “Intimidation is the New Normal”) you must assume that one or more of its members is willing to use violence against you, and you can assume that many members of the mob believe that violence against you is morally justifiable.
Haidt, of course, isn’t encouraging teachers to self-censor to avoid the wrath of the leftist campus mobs, but rather encouraging them to seek a better understanding of the group’s ideological origins and behaviors.
You can read the entirety of Professor Haidt’s blog post here.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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