William Jacobson is the proprietor of Legal Insurrection, an excellent and highly successful web site. He has made major contributions to a number of news stories, focused primarily but not exclusively on legal matters. Jacobson is a clinical law professor at Cornell.
Until now, he has been able to keep his conservative web site separate from the left-wing milieu in which he works. But in the current moment, conservatives are under frenzied attack everywhere. William’s “crime” was criticizing the Black Lives Matter organization, which now, apparently, may not be questioned. He writes:
From Saturday, June 6, through Monday, June 8, over 15 emails from [Cornell Law School] alumni were received by the Dean of the law school, demanding that action be taken against me ranging from an institutional statement denouncing me to firing. …
The effort appears coordinated, as some of the emails were in a template form. All of the emails as of Monday were from graduates within the past 10 years.
Only one of the emails was shared with me, with names removed, on the condition that I not post it or quote from it. I am permitted to characterize the complaint: My views are not consistent with the law school Dean’s public statement on police violence and my writings were hurtful and divisive, and the person could not understand why I am still on the faculty. [As an aside, my writings are consistent with the Dean’s statement, but that’s another matter.]
My clinical faculty colleagues, apparently in consultation with the Black Law Students Association, drafted and then published in the Cornell Sun on June 9 a letter denouncing “commentators, some of them attached to Ivy League Institutions, who are leading a smear campaign against Black Lives Matter.” While I am not mentioned by name, based on what I’ve seen BLSA and possibly others were told it was about me. The letter is absurd name-calling, distorting and even misquoting my writings, to the extent it purports to be about me. According to a document I’ve seen, the letter was shared with these students before it was published in the Cornell Sun.
None of the 21 signatories, some of whom I’d worked closely with for over a decade and who I considered friends, had the common decency to approach me with any concerns. Instead they ran to the Cornell Sun while virtue signaling to students behind the scenes that this was a denunciation of me. Such is the political environment we live in now at CLS.
BLSA and other groups are working on their own effort against me. Based on documents I’ve seen, there was consideration of demanding my firing, but it appears to have moved away from that not because they don’t want me fired, but “because calling for his firing would only draw more attention to his blog and bolster his platform, and we do not want to give him that satisfaction.” The plan is to call for “the law school to unequivocally denounce his rhetoric, acknowledge the harm caused by subjecting students to his racist pedagogy, and critically examine the views of the people they employ as professors of the law.” They plan to circulate the petition to the law school community and to “inform incoming students” of the situation.
Jacobson appropriately draws a parallel to the Chinese Cultural Revolution:
We are living in extraordinarily dangerous times, reminiscent of the Chinese Communist Cultural Revolution, in which professors guilty of wrongthink were publicy denounced and fired at the behest of students who insist on absolute ideological orthodoxy.
Don’t think the fascists will stop with the universities. They will come for all of us in due course. It is incumbent on everyone who values freedom and democracy to stand up to the Brownshirts. Sadly, I have not yet seen a single Democratic Party politician willing to part company with the mob on behalf of liberty.
UPDATE: Cornell Law School’s Dean has settled for criticizing Jacobson:
In light of this deep and rich tradition of walking the walk of racial justice, in no uncertain terms, recent blog posts of Professor William Jacobson, casting broad and categorical aspersions on the goals of those protesting for justice for Black Americans, do not reflect the values of Cornell Law School as I have articulated them. I found his recent posts to be both offensive and poorly reasoned.
Bullshit. In a reasoning contest, Jacobson would run circles around this limp academic. And of course, he didn’t “cast aspersions on the goals of those protesting for justice for Black Americans.” Rather, he criticized the corrupt, far left and racist (my characterization) Black Lives Matter organization, which is now rolling in dough and doing absolutely nothing for black lives or for America in general. BLM is a fraud on a par with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. (Again, my words, not Jacobson’s.) To be fair, it is a lucrative fraud.
Academic institutions from high schools to graduate schools are awash in “educators” who explicitly advocate rioting, violence and arson. (Last night, I watched a commencement speech at a ritzy Twin Cities private school delivered by a young African-American that extolled the virtues of rioting and arson. It was one of many.) Are institutions like Cornell Law School denouncing such absurd calls to violence? I hope so, but so far I haven’t seen a single instance.