Following our reporting, The National Association of Scholars, a professional organization for academics dedicated to intellectual freedom, is collecting signatures for an open letter asking the University of Chicago to publicly support “besieged” historian Rachel Fulton Brown.
Introducing the letter, the NAS writes that the allegations against Fulton Brown are “calumnies.” It calls on academics to urge her university to attest to her scholarly reputation. “Labeling an innocent person a racist or white supremacist today is the kind of reputational attack that cannot be ignored,” it continues. “It is a tactic used to avoid an opponent’s actual arguments and thus suppress academic and intellectual freedom. It debases the currency of scholarship and must be answered with strong affirmations of principle and attention to the facts.”
NAS President Peter Wood, addressing three senior figures at Chicago and the president of the Medieval Academy of America, “calls on them to declare publicly that Professor Fulton Brown’s professional character meets the standards catalogued by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its Statement on Professional Ethics. He specifically calls on them to affirm that Professor Fulton Brown has fulfilled all obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars, and that she has never discriminate[d] against or harass[ed] colleagues.”
Fulton Brown was wrongly accused by social justice warriors elsewhere in academia of being a “white supremacist” for writing a light-hearted post in defense of straight white males and befriending this reporter, and wrongly accused of “harassing” a junior colleague for politely responding to eighteen months’ worth of goading and name-calling on social media. The allegations are now widely understood to be fictitious.
Fulton Brown was fighting for her professional reputation, entirely unsupported by the University of Chicago and her peers, until we reported at length on the injustices she had been subjected to for refusing to submit to the strictures of political correctness and progressive politics. Now that the NAS joined the fray, academics from around the world working across dozens of disciplines are coming out in her support.
Although universities generally refrain from taking sides in academic debates, the NAS open letter is asking Chicago and the MAA to do something different, and merely affirm that Fulton Brown is an academic in good professional standing who has not harassed or discriminated against her colleagues. This is a matter of historical record, and should not be a challenge for Chicago to do. No one at Chicago need announce themselves on either side of a political or academic debate to clear Fulton Brown of professional wrongdoing and announce its commitment to her freedom of expression in the face of the attacks on freedom of speech she has endured.
So far, professors and graduate student co-signers include historians, political scientists, Jewish art historians, classicists, linguists, philosophers, archeologists, medics, psychologists and economists from the USA, Canada, the UK, Israel, Hong Kong, Germany and elsewhere. The NAS encourages anyone with academic credentials to add their names to the letter, which is reprinted in full below, at this link.
Prominent scholars who have signed the open letter to date include historian Richard Landes from Boston University, Charles Lipson from Fulton Brown’s own institution the University of Chicago, Jane Chance from Rice, Annemarie Weyl Carr from Southern Methodist University, Philip Carl Salzman and Patanjali Kambhampati from McGill and Robert P. George from Princeton.
Culture war-watchers will recognize the appearance of scholars on the list who have been the subject of their own controversies, including Janice Fiamengo from the University of Ottawa, Anthony Michael Esolen from Thomas More College, Bruce Gilley from Portland State and Michael Rectenwald from NYU, whose latest book, Springtime for Snowflakes, is out now.
Letter in Support of Rachel Fulton Brown
Rachel Fulton Brown, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago’s Department of History, during the last several years has been the subject of a series of defamatory attacks.
Vigorous polemics by Professor Brown, notably her blog-posts “Talking Points: Three Cheers for White Men” (June 5, 2015) and “How to Signal You Are Not a White Supremacist” (September 14, 2017), led a large number of scholars to calumny Professor Brown as a racist, a white supremacist, and someone who has been complicit in inciting violence against her fellow professionals.
We do not think such calumnies should stand unanswered. We affirm our belief that Rachel Fulton Brown’s professional character meets the standards catalogued by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its Statement on Professional Ethics (https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-professional-ethics). We specifically affirm our belief that Professor Brown has fulfilled all obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars, and that she has never discriminate[d] against or harass[ed] colleagues. We affirm that any university, scholarly association, or other academic body should be proud to have Professor Brown as a member.
We respect and cherish the principle of institutional neutrality in scholarly disputes. Yet we do not think that principle conflicts with the duty of academic-corporate bodies to vindicate the reputation of their members when they have been falsely accused of disgraceful and unprofessional conduct. We, therefore, call on all institutions of whom Professor Brown is a member—and all institutions who object to the defamation of scholarly good character—to join us in these affirmations.
We specifically urge that public vindications of Professor Brown’s scholarly good character be made by President Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago, Dean Amanda Woodward of the University of Chicago’s Division of the Social Sciences, Acting Chair Adrian Johns of the University of Chicago’s Department of History, and President David Wallace of the Medieval Academy of America.
We urge these institutions to consider the damage their own reputations have suffered by failing to repudiate the calumnies inflicted upon Rachel Fulton Brown. We counsel them that they can best restore their own reputations by a wholehearted vindication of her character.
A current list of signatories can be found here.
Milo Yiannopoulos is an award-winning investigative reporter and the New York Times-bestselling author of DANGEROUS.