Philosophy Professor Receiving Death Threats (updated with transcript, letter from colleagues)


Tommy Curry, professor of philosophy at Texas A & M University, has been receiving racist hate mail and death threats in the wake of an opinion piece at a conservative website that frames remarks of his in a misleading way—and among those apparently misled, it now appears, is Texas A & M president Michael K. Young.

The article, “When Is It Ok To Kill Whites?” by Rod Dreher, appears at The American Conservative, and uses as its launching point an interview that Professor Curry did four years earlier. In that interview, Professor Curry discusses the contemporary popular lack of awareness of calls for violent black resistance against slavery and racism in U.S. history, the history of violence against black people in the U.S., the way in which the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment has been made use of in racist ways, and related topics. Dreher uses misleading rhetoric and selective quotations in an attempt to frame Curry’s remarks as “racist bilge.” [For a transcript of the Professor Curry’s full remark see update 1 below.]

For example, in the interview, Curry, discussing Jamie Foxx’s joke about how great it was for him to be able to kill all of the white characters in the movie Django Unchained, says:

What I’m surprised about is that I’ve seen no black public intellectual come out and actually address the issue of violence or social revolution or radical self-defense by black people historically. So right now black people simply buy into the idea that “oh, it’s entertainment,” or “oh, you know, violence against white people is only the idea of the Black Panthers.” But in reality we’ve had people from Nat Turner to Robert F. Williams who was the father of the radical self defense movement that inspired the Black Panthers… that thought about killing white people in self-defense…

When we have this conversation about violence or killing white people it has to be looked at in the context of a historical turn, and the fact that we’ve had no one address, like, how relevant and how solidified this kind of tradition is for black people saying, “look in order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people may have to die,” I’ve just been immensely disappointed, because what we look at week after week is national catastrophe after catastrophe where black people, black children, are still dying…

Dreher takes all of that and reports it as follows:

“In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die,” he says

—completely ignoring that with those words Curry was describing a view that some people, historically, have held. You get the idea. Dreher, no stranger to the Internet, knows exactly what he is doing here, and what the likely result will be.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Within hours of The American Conservative’s post, YouTube’s comments section and Twitter lit up with demands for Curry’s termination and racial slurs against him. Curry, who is black, said via email Wednesday that he’d received death threats and pictures of “apes, monkeys, etc.” As an example, he shared one tweet directed at him, showing someone putting a gun in a monkey’s mouth.

IHE also reports this development:

Michael K. Young, university president, in a statement Wednesday night called Curry’s four-year-old comments “disturbing” and standing “in stark contrast to Aggie core values— most notably those of respect, excellence, leadership and integrity—values that we hold true toward all of humanity.”

Young says “the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of others to offer their personal views.” Good.

Yet Young seems to buy Dreher’s framing, implying that Curry said things that were “reprehensible” and that he advocated “violence, hate, and killing.” You can listen to the interview, below, and see how that is a mischaracterization.

Perhaps Young knows this, and his remarks are public relations damage control. That is too bad. It would have been much better for President Young to stick up for Professor Curry, rather than say things which he should know will in all likelihood make things worse for him. [See update 2, below for a letter of support from Curry’s colleagues in the Department of Philosophy at Texas A&M.]



UPDATE 1: Courtesy of WW, who put it in the comments on another post, is a full transcription of Professor Curry’s remarks in the video.

WW writes: I have not included the interviewer Rob Redding at the beginning and end. I have inserted punctuation as best I could, and edited out “uhs”, but tried to include all actual words. The usual infelicities of spoken English I have reproduced. I think in an age where taking snippets out of context is nearly universal, it is best to give as full a transcript as possible. It can be unkind, I know, to any speaker not to smooth out even the most obvious of verbal missteps. Any philosophers who are moved to comment should use a principle of charity when looking at the syntax of individual spoken sentences.

* * *

PROFESSOR TOMMY CURRY:

Today I want to talk about killing white people in context.

So over the last twenty years, black people allowed white academics, white liberals — and I don’t know if you saw the recent movie Django Unchained — factual history of black civil rights struggle and black slave insurrections.

What we have today is a situation where the symbols of King and peaceful white progressives have become the hallmarks of the black civil rights struggle.

I mean we saw this with people like Skip Gates when Obama won the election, saying that even all of our slaves foreparents who were enslaved and stolen from Africa, all the suffering dying and death that we had during the civil rights movement, have all accumulated in Obama himself, right.

And what that does is it puts a public-relations face on the history of enslavement. It puts a popular face on the suffering of African-descended people, and it puts a smile, a persona from black people, that we can in fact talk about American racism without mentioning the threat of violence or social social revolution at all.

Now two weeks ago Jamie Foxx made a joke about how great it was for him to be able to kill all the white people in his new movie. And I saw it and he’s right, practically every white person in that movie dies a very violent and well-deserved death for their participation in enslavement of African descent people.

But the problem I have with that statement — and it’s using a context of Django — is that it’s a fantasy where the death of white people are really just an entertaining spectacle. It’s something that didn’t really happen. It’s not like black people had that type of opportunity under enslavement.

And today what you see is a backlash, from white conservatives on the one hand who were offended, saying that Jamie Foxx is racist, and white liberals on the other hand who are saying that, well this is not productive that you ever talk about killing white people, and putting the burden back on black people who have actually suffered these types of horror, saying that you can never have a political conversation about the killing of white people, ’cause that in itself is evil, is non-productive, is nationalistic, only evil black nationalists do that, right.

And I think that a lot of times black people will buy into this as well. What I was surprised about is that I’ve seen no black public intellectual come out and actually address the issue of violence or social revolution or self radical self-defense by black people historically.

So right now black people simply buy into the idea that, “oh it’s entertainment,” or “oh you know violence against white people was only the ideas of the Black Panthers.”

But in reality we’ve had people from Nat Turner to Robert F Williams, who’s the father of radical self-defense movement that inspired Black Panthers, and he wrote the book Negroes With Guns, that thought about killing white people in self-defense.

Now remember that these black people were actually in a world very much like ours today where white vigilantism against black people, murder, state violence, were all deemed normal. This was how you preserved American democracy. This is what Ida B Wells talks about. You lynched black people because they’re an economic threat to white, poor whites getting businesses. You lynched black people to show black people that they can never be equal, so they will never challenge you, they will never pursue politics, they would have never pursued the right to vote.

So when we have this conversation about violence or killing white people, it has to be looked at in the context of this historical turn.

And the fact that we’ve had no one address like how relevant and how solidified this kind of tradition is for black people, saying “look, in order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people may have to die.”

I’ve just been immensely disappointed, because what we look at, week after week, is the national catastrophe after catastrophe where black people, black children, are still dying. And we are front row, we’re front and center, when it comes to white people talking about their justification for owning assault weapons and owning guns to protect themselves from evil black people and evil immigrants.

But when we turn the conversation back and says, “does the black community ever need to own guns, does the black community have a need to protect itself, does the black individual have a need to protect itself from police officers,” we don’t have that conversation at all.

Now we see white citizens arm themselves with assault weapons fearing gun legislation, and we saw the nationalist rhetoric during the election where people are trying to kill Obama, but we don’t have any kind of connection between the arguments made today about the Second Amendment, where people say they have the right to bear arms, and the historical role of the Second Amendment, where it was used to allow[?] white people to press down slave revolts and revolts from indigenous natives.

So Robert Control and Raymond Diamond write this excellent piece called The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, where they actually trace the history of that, and say that the second amendment isn’t about individuals simply trying to protect themselves, it’s actually about community.

But the problem is the black community has not taken the time, has not taken the, doesn’t have the discipline to look at black politics as an outgrowth of how it needs to protect itself from violent anti-black forces, that are still killing our children, are still taking our communities, and now is trying to justify nationalist rhetoric to preserve its right to bear arms.

UPDATE 2: Professor Curry’s colleagues in the Department of Philosophy have published the following letter of support in a Texas A&M school paper, The Eagle, on May 13th:

We, the undersigned, are writing to convey both our strong support for our colleague, Tommy Curry, and our disappointment at the lack of support from Texas A&M University for a faculty member undergoing widespread vilification on social media, extending to death threats taken seriously enough by law enforcement to warrant police protection.

We work in many different philosophical traditions. Some of us endorse pacifism and non-violence, while others endorse violence in self-defense or as a means to end injustice. But all of us think that there are important debates to be had on the role of violence, and that these are well within the mission of the university.

In a radio interview that first appeared on YouTube on Dec. 27, 2012, and that recently has been highlighted by the website The American Conservative, our colleague Tommy Curry contributes to this debate. Among other points, he claims that our society often has imposed a double standard on discussions of violence, which often are deemed acceptable when they concern the founding figures of our nation and state but not when had by minorities in our present society.

The death threats he has received, and the anemic support he has been offered by the university, suggest to us, regardless of our individual views on the role of violence, that on the question of this double standard he clearly is correct.

We would like to emphasize two points in particular: The first is that nowhere in the interview does Tommy Curry incite violence. What he does do is discuss remarks made by the actor Jamie Foxx about his (Foxx’s) role in the film Django Unchained and relate those remarks to the role that violence and armed struggle has played in the progress of black civil rights. Second, in pursuing this discussion Curry is not simply exercising his First Amendment rights as a private citizen, but also is doing the job for which he has been awarded tenure at Texas A&M University.

Tommy Curry’s assigned role at Texas A&M is to teach and research in critical race theory, an area where he is an acknowledged expert. He has been encouraged to disseminate his ideas both within the academic world and more broadly. Curry’s impact on the general, non-academic community has been recognized by the award of the Alain Locke Award from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. The nominators and the award committee both specifically referenced Curry’s ability to engage lay audiences on complex subjects via multiple platforms, including radio and the internet.

As an institution that supports the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, Texas A&M University is committed to protecting Tommy Curry’s academic freedom, and we urge the university to fulfil its obligations in the face of a vicious attack on the academic values that are fundamental to our faculty and to our students.

— José Luis Bermúdez, Kenny Easwaran, Robert Garcia, Amir Jaima, Claire Katz, Chris Menzel, Clare Palmer, Gregory Pappas, Martin Peterson, Roger Sansom, Robin Smith, Kristi Sweet, Linda Radzik and Gary Varner

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LK McPherson
LK McPherson
3 years ago

There’s a long tradition of white people wondering why Blacks were “willing” to be subjected to slavery, slave rape, lynching, caste degradation, etc. Indeed, lack of widespread violent resistance has been taken as evidence that American chattel slavery was generally a “benevolent” enough institution…for people like blacks. Hegel, with academic freedom on his side, offered a complementary explanation: “[Negroes] are sold, and let themselves be sold, without any reflection on the rights or wrongs of the matter.”

In short, the usually rhetorical question has been: Why didn’t Blacks rebel more often if things were so bad for them (or if they had self-respect)? Professor Curry simply pointed to a long Black tradition of accepting the implied view that violence in pursuit of liberation might be necessary and justified. But he surely knew that the price of his commentary could include distortion, gaslighting, mainstreamed denunciation, and racist abuse. On the brighter side, even in Texas, the price of unpopular Black thought has generally gone down.Report

Tommy J. Curry
Tommy J. Curry
Reply to  LK McPherson
3 years ago

Dr. McPherson,

Thank you for the response. I actually did not know or anticipate the distortion of this segment. It was made 5 years ago and a commentary about the reaction the public had to Jamie Foxx’s joke that he enjoyed killing white people in the movie Django. In my mind, there was nothing controversial in describing the reaction to his view or articulating a historical fact that some Black civil rights leaders as well as enslaved Africans believed violence was necessary for liberation. Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Tommy J. Curry
3 years ago

The far right has no intellectual honesty whatsoever. These are the people who think that interracial relationships are a kind of “genocide” against white people.Report

Professor Plum
Professor Plum
Reply to  Sam
3 years ago

Oh please. I think we’ve seen pretty conclusive evidence this week that the far left also utterly lacks intellectual honesty.

Having said that, I don’t think Curry’s comments are an incitement to violence or even particularly radical, and it was wrong of his president to characterize them the way he did. Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Professor Plum
3 years ago

I am unaware of any concept that the “far left” has pursued of late which is as utterly ridiculous as the one of “white genocide”. Of course there are those who lack intellectual integrity and honesty on all parts of the intellectual spectrum and the left and far left is no different, but the far-right, these days, is characteristically dishonest in a way others, including those on the center-right, are not (and they are also openly irrationalist, and have a tendency to be voluntarists towards truth). Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Sam
3 years ago

like … it’s the far right that brought us Pizzagate for christsakes …Report

upstate upstart
upstate upstart
Reply to  Sam
3 years ago

Who brought us “9/11 is an inside job”?Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Sam
3 years ago

Considering Trump-loving, far-right Alex Jones was the single biggest person spreading the Truther story …Report

Laura Gillespie
Laura Gillespie
Reply to  Tommy J. Curry
3 years ago

What a nightmare. Is A&M doing anything to help ensure your safety from these racist nut jobs? Report

Peter Alward
Peter Alward
3 years ago

If anyone should be terminated it’s Michael Young for lacking basic reading comprehension skills and, hence, simply being unqualified for the role of university president. Report

Greg Gauthier
3 years ago

Your characterization is incorrect. This wasn’t just an academic speculation. He wasn’t just “describing a view that some people, historically, have held”. He was clearly advocating – in the here and now – for using the second amendment as a tool for arming the “black community” against “violent anti-black forces”, such as “the cops” and “second amendment nationalists”. He is further clearly implying that armed rebellion as a means of “defending” the “black community” is something not just laudable, but preferable.

So, the faux shock and horror here, when the internet responds aggressively to him, is just laughable.

But worse than that, if it’s true what you say, that “Dreher, no stranger to the Internet, knows exactly what he is doing here”, then he must also be well aware of all of the apologia going on in the mainstream right now, for the idea that you get to *punch* people you don’t agree with (or hit them in the head with a bike lock, now it seems, as well). In such a public atmosphere, what possibility is there, for a conversation about anger at all, let alone “black” anger, or “white” anger?

Absolutely none. Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Greg Gauthier
3 years ago

So black people have no right to defend themselves and their basic humanity from the violence of others? Isn’t that dehumanizing? White Americans (many of whom owned slaves or violently stole land from Native Americans) rebelled because they were sick of paying taxes and this is a glorious event in America’s self-understanding, but black people even raising the possibility of violent self defense against racist violence is somehow abhorrent. Report

Jacqueline Fox
Jacqueline Fox
Reply to  Greg Gauthier
3 years ago

Are you saying it is wrong to use violence to defend yourself against attacks, because that is what your comment looks like it is saying, and while that is an entirely legitimate perspective, I think it needs to be clearly framed as a generalized call for non violence. Otherwise, and I am sure you don’t mean to do this, your comment looks really racist, as though the shock that you feel is because he thinks black people should aggressively defend themselves against violence. Your use of quotation marks, in particular, makes it look as though you are speaking in some sort of coded language rather than using words. For example, arming oneself to protect oneself against violent forces that seek to attack you isn’t really open to criticism unless your belief is that they should accept the violence without making an effort at self defense. Your use of quotations in that sentence doesn’t seem to be alluding to any actual quotes (no citations are given) and so it ends up looking like racist and antisemetic dogwhistles I have seen in other places. You might want to clarify and edit your remarks. Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Jacqueline Fox
3 years ago

This is a common intellectual move made, probably subconsciously, by a lot of people. They take certain kinds of violence for granted, then when the victims respond to defend themselves they go and say of the victims “why are they so violent?” The ethical problem is no longer the original violence but the violent response to violence. This outrage characterizes US history, from the frothing anger at the violence of Natives during the Indian Wars to the liberation struggles of the 70s to the violent repression at standing rock. Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Sam
3 years ago

This is the story of my life.Report

Professor Plum
Professor Plum
Reply to  Greg Gauthier
3 years ago

Whenever people, especially white people, start lecturing about the dangers of anger, especially black anger, I ask myself, how is their self-interest and power being threatened? White cant regarding “forgiveness” and “moving forward” and “the dangers of anger” is epistemically quite useful; when you start hearing those things you know that the whites in question are afraid of losing their power. This holds across the political spectrum. Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Professor Plum
3 years ago

There’s no call for ad hominem attacks on Professor Gauthier’s motives.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Greg Gauthier
3 years ago

“all of the apologia going on in the mainstream right now, for the idea that you get to *punch* people you don’t agree with (or hit them in the head with a bike lock, now it seems, as well).”

Where is the mainstream apologia for the bike lock incident? I’ve looked around a bit and I haven’t seen any defense of the incident in question.

As for punching, I agree that Donald Trump’s incitement of violence against protesters (for which he is being sued) is disturbing, but I honestly haven’t seen any mainstream defense of that either; though perhaps if I were more familiar with conservative media I would. Also, not sure how it’s relevant to McCurry. (The thing you’re actually talking about doesn’t seem relevant either.)Report

Nicky Drake
Nicky Drake
3 years ago

I don’t quite understand your comment, Greg. Is it your position that when Curry said “In order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people might have to die” he was expressing his own view?

Where does Curry adovcate “armed rebellion” – could you please quote his exact words? Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Nicky Drake
3 years ago

Even if he did say “armed rebellion” it shouldn’t matter. White colonists fought an armed rebellion because they had to pay taxes but couldn’t vote. Meanwhile black people have had to endure 200 centuries of an even worse fate, treated with far more systematic and unyielding violence than any plantation owner paying taxes without representation. In fact, the plantation owners who rebelled like Washington were the very ones bringing this violence to Black Americans. So there is a pretty fundamental double standard at play within the American psyche, which is the way people conceive of violence from the white majority and the way people conceive of violence from black, indigenous and latin american people.Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

“Perhaps Young knows this, and his remarks are public relations damage control. That is too bad. It would have been much better for President Young to stick up for Professor Curry, rather than say things which he should know will in all likelihood make things worse for him.”

….does anyone else read an allusion to the Hypatia apology, specifically in light of the Daily Nous’ previous perspective?Report

Paul Whitfield
Paul Whitfield
Reply to  Paul Whitfield
3 years ago

I should add I fully support Dr. Curry’s statements and perspective, and agree with the Daily Nous that Dr. Young’s statements are a mischaracterization.Report

Rebecca
Rebecca
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
3 years ago

Thank you Justin. I am begging you to please moderate the comments carefully. What is at issue is not just calumny but perhaps life and death safety as shit like this yet once again amplifies and escalates with know-nothing outsiders chiming in. The internet comes with some really serious risks.Report

SCM
SCM
3 years ago

I wonder if President Young would find the following remarks disturbing and in stark contrast to core values of respect, excellence, leadership, and integrity:

“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom. The government has interpreted the peacefulness of the movement as weakness; the people’s non-violent policies have been taken as a green light for government violence. Refusal to resort to force has been interpreted by the government as an invitation to use armed force against the people without any fear of reprisals. The methods of Umkhonto we Sizwe mark a break with that past.”Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
3 years ago

About 20 years ago I was chair at Bowling Green. A grad student of ours gave a paper at a conference with a provocative title that was about terrorism. An undergrad at the conference misinterpreted the paper as a defense of terrorism and claimed that this paper showed how broadly academia was in favor of the terrorists. The undergrad had a blog and they posted about this. Other conservative blogs cut and pasted the story with some embellishments and asserted it as if they had independent evidence for the undergrad’s claims. The sharing worked its way up the conservative blog food chain until it was enough of a story that I got a call from the President of the university. I explained that the hullabaloo was wild misinterpretation, the Prez believed me, and eventually the story died down without a statement from the University. Report

sam
sam
Reply to  David Sobel
3 years ago

It’s a little too perfect that lies about terrorism came out of Bowling Green … was that undergrad Kellyanne Conway by any chance?Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  sam
3 years ago

Sadly, we are talking about two different cities named Bowling Green. The university is in Ohio, the Bowling Green Massacre did not happen in Kentucky.Report

Tim O'Keefe
Reply to  Matt Weiner
3 years ago

But the Bowling Green Massacre also did not happen in Ohio!Report

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Tim O'Keefe
3 years ago

I’m sure there’s an analytic paper out there just wanting to be written on the truth value of the statement “the bowling green massacre did not happen in Kentucky” and “the bowling green massacre did not happen in Ohio”Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Tim O'Keefe
3 years ago

Well, I think it’s an essential property of the Bowling Green Massacre that it was located in Bowling Green, KY–if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been the Bowling Green Massacre–which means (assuming that we’re using the Kripke first-order modal logic that disconfirms the converse Barcan formula) that it is located in Kentucky in all worlds, even those, like this, in which it didn’t happen. So the Bowling Green Massacre didn’t happen in Kentucky.

(Note: I do not actually think this.)

Also, I should say that in all seriousness the treatment of Curry has been disgraceful, his university should not condemn him, and I extend him any support I can give.Report

Fred
Fred
3 years ago

Taylor Branch’s “America in the King Years” trilogy points out that armed Black individuals guarded civil rights marchers in Black neighborhoods, including Martin Luther King’s house. Perhaps Pres. Young needs a history lesson?Report

Keith Schettino
Keith Schettino
3 years ago

I just don’t see it as racism when directed at whitey. Not only in this country but worldwide. While I agree that ethnic hatred between groups isn’t often justified and in most cases the atrocities are mutual, in the case of the European this is simply not true. I’m definitely NOT talking about only the history of this country but of the world in general. Colonialism and Imperialism are the way of Racism. From South America to India to Africa to the Philippines whites have been subjugating non whites for millennia. From France and Britain to The US to Japan, China and Australia, The Marshal Plan made racism and the idea that the indigenous peoples of the southern continents and their resources were best used to “rebuild” the destroyed “civilized” world after WW2 the official world policy. Even the idea that there is a First World and a Third World and that some countries fall into one category and others into another category (usually by skin color of the population this is decided, you can tell because of who the first world countries are that share continents with third world countries {South Africa, India etc.} are populated with. When whites become the power countries are considered first world, no whites in power? third world lets steal their resources type shit) is wrapped up in systemic racism. Why do predominately White countries sit on the UN Security Council? Why do they alone have veto power over the rest of the indigenous world? All wrapped up in “white” dominance. It is absolutely true that there are power structures that exist to the privilege and advantage solely of white men. It is absolutely true that these institutions have been active for hundreds of years, crippling the other races in this country. It is absolutely true that mostly white people are still trying to make this a “White Haven on Planet Earth” through policies against Immigration from south to north worldwide. I think that for minorities it is probably ok to be wary if not downright fearful of the white man. Historically white people are prone to destroying the peoples who are not white. If that fear leads to anger isn’t that natural progression? Is it not justified then? Let me ask you something. If a group of people came to your family and took you from it, made you learn their language and their religion and their histories, and threatened death upon you for repeating your own histories, how would you feel about your captors? I don’t think people should be made to pay for their ancestors either. I do believe that the current power structure in the world is still predominately white or white appointed/accepted. Look to the CEOs and the Owners. Look to the Rulers of Nations and Peoples. All White. So when I say these things understand that I don’t identify as white. I am a conglomerate of many peoples, mostly Irish and German but some sub-Saharan African and Indigenous North American as well. What I’m talking about is the masters who convinced you that you were like them by calling you white.Report

SH
SH
3 years ago

I fully support Prof. Curry, and I hope he gets a public apology from President Young. Also, I will pour a glass of wine and enjoy the hypocritical spectacle of 1) the NRA’s conspicuous silence and 2) the righteous outrage of those philosophers who signed a letter calling for a forcible retraction of Rebecca Tuvel’s Hypatia article last week and are ardently defending academic freedom this week.Report

zain
zain
Reply to  SH
3 years ago

The treatment of Prof Curry is not an academic freedom issue but one of common decency. Nobody should be so willfully misquoted, academic or not.Report

Slim Smith
Slim Smith
3 years ago

I find it amusing that right-wing critics are appalled at the idea that black citizens might defend themselves, even to the point of violence, while all the while stock-piling guns and expanding the definition of the 2nd Amendment in order to violently defend themselves against their own military/law enforcement. Report

Prof in exile
Prof in exile
3 years ago

I’m surprised that few of Professor Curry’s defenders or detractors have taken into consideration his scholarship on justifications for Black armed resistance to “White supremacy” *today*. The paper linked below explains those views very clearly.
I think it still possible to defend Professor Curry’s freedom of speech and tenure, but it should be with due and accurate acknowledgement of his scholarship, and not just be based what he said (or didn’t say) in a 5 year old interview.
http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30638775/Please_Dont_Make_Me_Touch_Em.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1494683160&Signature=%2FnBpuzFhBIujyjjFDxid3EvGhPA%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DPlease_Dont_Make_Me_Touch_Em_Towards_a_C.pdfReport

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  Prof in exile
3 years ago

“I think it still possible to defend Professor Curry’s freedom of speech and tenure, but it should be with due and accurate acknowledgement of his scholarship, and not just be based what he said (or didn’t say) in a 5 year old interview.”

Professor Curry’s academic freedom and tenure need only be protected when legitimately challenged. Are you suggesting that Dreher’s blog post should be ground for such a challenge? Dreher would need then to address such a challenge to the TAMU administration, which, if it wished to follow AAUP guidelines, would need to convene a faculty panel. The AAUP position on such is summarized here by John K Wilson, focusing on the 1964 revision of the 1940 Statement:

“The controlling principle is that a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness to serve. Extramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for continuing service.” Committee A added a new requirement that the faculty member’s “entire record” must be weighed in judging a professor unfit to serve. To reinforce the role of faculty, the 1964 Statement on Extramural Utterances established that the “unfitness” of a faculty member must be judged by a faculty committee.” {p 10; citations omitted).

John K Wilson, “Academic Freedom and Extramural Utterances: The Leo Koch
and Steven Salaita Cases at the University of Illinois,” _Journal of Academic Freedom_, vol 6 (2015).

https://www.aaup.org/sites/default/files/Wilson.pdf
Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
3 years ago

My last comment was a little rushed. We would only need to invoke other statements of Curry in defense of his academic freedom were he to have been legitimately challenged. As Dreher’s attack is far from legitimate, we have no need to go over Curry’s record other than that cited by Dreher. Were there to be a formal challenge addressed to the TAMU administration one would hope it would be dismissed out of hand, but were it to be received seriously, then the AAUP guidelines should then be applied, in which case Curry’s entire output, not simply the piece suggested by “Prof in exile,” would be germane. Report

David Mathers
David Mathers
3 years ago

Like the Tuvel case, this is a no-brainer. Nobody, and hence no academic, should be receiving death threats and racial abuse for expressing their views, however controversial. And any response to said death threat involving controversy by a university president needs to mention and condemn them. Indeed, I’m not very happy with a president condemning faculty speech in response to internet outrage, full-stop, though I suppose in cases where what was said was extremely offensive and bigoted some condemnation might be merited. But it’s clear that the remarks in this case don’t fall into that category; they weren’t hate speech or abusive. (Even if I personally have some issues with them.) Report

Prof in exile
Prof in exile
3 years ago

John Protevi: I was hasty in running together defenses of Prof Curry’s tenure with defenses of his freedom of speech. Not being an expert, I’ll grant that there are strong procedural grounds for defending his tenure at Texas A&M, for the reasons you suggest. Dreher doesn’t appear to want him dismissed either, by the way; in the comments section to his second blog on Curry, he referred to him as a “nutty professor” who should be tolerated but who still deserves strong criticism.
My point was rather broader than this. Now that Professor Curry is becoming a magnet for both conservative and White nationalist denunciation, his defenders should elaborate a more nuanced defense taking into account his scholarship as well, which clearly outlines a case for something like just war violence by Blacks against White supremacy. Though no fan of critical race theory nor of Black ethno-nationalism, that’s how I would do it anyway. Report