Group set up to defend academic freedom is itself coming under fire

Historians in the News

Citing a pattern of outside interest groups aggressively seeking to impose their influence on recent collegiate hiring and tenure decisions, five prominent professors [including Princeton historian Joan Wallach Scott] have formed the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University. They are circulating an online petition that takes explicit aim at "groups portraying themselves as defenders of Israel," which, the committee alleges, are disseminating "unfounded insinuations and allegations ... of anti-Semitism" and pressuring university administrations by threatening to withhold donations. "The future of higher education in America, its role in our country's democracy, and its contribution to world affairs is at stake," the petition concludes. Within one week of appearing on the Web, the appeal had garnered nearly 300 signatures from academics across the country. But in terms of online buzz, most of the reaction was provided by critics who dismissed the committee's petition as adding to the problem. One more example of how partisan the issue of academic freedom has recently become ....

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