A new website has been set up by conservative activists to highlight professors espousing what they refer to as “leftist propaganda” in colleges across the US. Entitled the “Professor Watchlist", there are already over 200 academics listed as having “radical agendas”.
As reported by the New York Times, these “radical agendas” are very loosely defined. Some are described as having feminist agendas, some think that students carrying guns on campus is a bad idea, and one encouraged students to protest the appearance of alt-right troll-in-chief Milo Yiannopoulos on campus.
One particular academic is listed because he used a curse word during a debate. We suppose that those compiling the list aren’t fans of our own website, then.
This ludicrous directory is clearly designed to root out anti-conservative, left-leaning academics, of which statistics tell us there are plenty. Of course, if a high-profile academic is telling their students to commit acts of terrorism or violence it should be reported, but that’s what law enforcement agencies are for.
The list’s founders are affiliated with a conservative group named Turning Point USA, which features images of firebrand Republican Ted Cruz on its website. Its mission statement is one of small government, the former mantra of the Republican Party before the angry orange one took the helm.
The founder of the Watchlist, one Charlie Kirk, recently took to Twitter to blast liberals for not being tolerant of other people’s ideas. The irony here is rather delicious.
The list, which went live on November 21, is already being heavily ridiculed on social media. Some are screenshotting their own Watchlist submissions, including Magneto, Jesus Christ, and Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Of the time-traveler, the entry notes that his “hair makes him look like Bernie Sanders,” adding that “socialism is bad.”
Academics coming under attack is a recurring and resurgent theme in today’s America, and it’s unlikely to be a coincidence that the site appeared almost immediately following the shock election results. Unfortunately, this may be a case of history repeating itself, as this is far from the first time such a concerning style of “watch list” has emerged in the US.
Back in the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy began a witch hunt. Spearheading a campaign to root out supposed communists within the legislative, academic, legal, and artistic circles, this led to hundreds of people being imprisoned and tens of thousands facing social expulsion and revulsion.
Although some did have some tenuous link with communist ideals, a vast majority presented no threat to the wellbeing of the US. It was also clear that those that were homosexual were more likely to be targeted – back then, homosexuality was classed as a psychiatric disorder.
Nowadays, “McCarthyism” is a derogatory label attached to people or groups making unfounded accusations of deception or treason.
Although the Professor Watchlist is not as extreme as the witch hunts of the 1950s, it’s on the same spectrum and could easily go down a very worrisome road. Its emergence fits perfectly in with the current narrative of the US, a time where the alt-right, white nationalism, anti-intellectualism, sexism, and racism are all on the rise.
Turning Point USA state that they “will continue to fight for free speech and the right for professors to say whatever they wish.” Of course, academics already had that right. By adding them to such a threatening list, it’s making them unjustifiable targets, and scaring some from exercising their rights.
This isn’t protecting free speech. It’s about silencing dissent, and it deserves to be called out for what it is.
[H/T: New York Times]