The provocatively titled course has come in for some criticism and today we see 2 state legislators — threatening to obstruct state funding and approval of a tuition increase — are calling on the University to cancel the course and fire the professor:
One of the lawmakers, Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville.... said he concluded the professor teaching the course, Damon Sajnani, should be dismissed because of tweets he posted on Twitter after five Dallas police officers were killed by a sniper on July 7.
In one tweet, posted at 10:36 p.m. the day the officers were killed, Sajnani included a photo of news coverage and wrote, “Is the uprising finally starting? Is this style of protest gonna go viral?” Earlier that night, Sajnani had tweeted a link to a song on YouTube called “Officer Down” and wrote, “Watching CNN, this is the song I am currently enjoying in my head.”
Murphy said in a statement Tuesday that he was "extremely concerned that UW-Madison finds it appropriate to teach a course called, ‘The Problem of Whiteness,’ with the premise that white people are racist.” “Even more troubling," Murphy wrote, "the course is taught by a self-described 'international radical' professor whose views are a slap in the face to the taxpayers who are expected to pay for this garbage."
Murphy said he didn't understand "how a University that preaches political correctness can stand by a professor who openly condones violence against law enforcement and compares white voters to the KKK." UW-Madison must drop the class, Murphy said. "If UW-Madison stands with this professor, I don’t know how the University can expect the taxpayers to stand with UW-Madison.”Murphy indicates that he's looking through various "areas of the university" for courses that are not — as he sees it — "legit."
"We will not take a knee-jerk reaction to anything just because it has a word in it that hurts people's sensibilities. I realize college is a place to discuss ideas that aren't necessarily everybody's idea of how things out to be," Murphy said. "But I want to make sure there's legitimate education going on. I'm broken-hearted that this is something I have to be involved in."Yeah? Me too.
Governor Scott Walker has a better attitude, I'd say. He just called the course "goofy" and "unusual" and said he didn't think "the governor should be telling people what classes they should or shouldn't have." Well put!
FIRE takes the principled position we've come to expect: "Wisconsin Lawmakers Once Again Threaten Academic Freedom."
Thankfully... the university offered a robust defense of free speech on campus when “Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf said the university ‘supports the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty and staff, including their use of social media tools to express their views on race, politics or other topics, in their capacity as a private citizen.’”And here's Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic:
It’s good to see the University of Wisconsin–Madison take this principled stance in the face of legislative pressure. Hopefully, the legislature will drop these misguided and even unconstitutional threats.
[C]onservatives, liberals, and libertarians should all be able to agree that consistent, principled defenses of free speech norms are indispensable at institutions of higher education, and that their absence is most damaging to marginalized students. Uniting against illiberalism on the right and left is the best course. Otherwise, political groups will waste their efforts on an interminable fight to censor one another, instead of defending the values that serve them all.Exactly.