If It’s Not “Subpoenas Envy,” Why Does Everyone Want Onto the “Professor Watchlist”?

mccarthy_cohn

By United Press International telephoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

December 14, 2016; Washington Post

Yippie Jerry Rubin originally coined the phrase “subpoenas envy” to describe the longing he and some other activists on the Left had for being identified as “enemies of the state” during the ’60s. This is not that exactly…more like a shielding maneuver meant to resist the making of such venal lists.

Around 1,500 faculty members at colleges and universities have requested that their names be added to the 200-strong, allegedly lefty “Professor Watchlist,” a listing of those accused by their fellow citizens of advancing “leftist propaganda” in classrooms.

The website sponsor is Turning Point USA, a national movement that claims to “educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.” Turning Point USA claims those on the Professor Watchlist “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

Since it was made public that two of the names on the original list came from the University of Notre Dame, more than 200 additional Notre Dame faculty members signed a letter asking to be let in because those on the list were “the sort of company we wish to keep.”

We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our colleagues, such as Professor Gary Gutting, 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.

From other institutions of higher learning comes another “Dear Professor Watchlist” letter signed by 1500 people asking for their own invites.

We, the undersigned faculty at the Universities and other institutions of higher learning listed below, write to request that you place all of our names on Professor Watchlist.

We support the faculty at University of Notre Dame and many of our colleagues listed on your site. These philosophers, scientists, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists and many others have spent their careers in the pursuit of truth and critical thought. These individuals represent an educational system that relies on academic freedom, which is necessary to support the personal freedoms that lie at the core of our national ideals.

We will not tolerate our colleagues being subject to policing of their work, their thoughts and their teaching. We will not repeat the passivity of the past, when intellectuals were blacklisted for disagreeing with a particular agenda. When you challenge them, you challenge us. Even when we may disagree with each other, we support and demand our right to continue to publish and discuss our work, to call attention to injustice and false information, to challenge our students to think critically, to commit ourselves to the pursuit of truth and independent thought that defines an educated and free society.

Along with our colleagues at University of Notre Dame, please add our names, the undersigned faculty, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.