Writers and Academics Call For Removal Of Chicago Professor For Criticizing BLM and Defunding Police

university of chicagoIt seems that University of Chicago professors are much in the news this week.  We recently discussed the controversy of posting by University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter saying that military leaders should “depose” President Donald Trump and jail him. Now another Chicago professor is under fire.  Notably, while no one called for Leiter to be fired for wistfully discussing a military coup, there is a chorus of writers and academics calling for the canning of Harald Uhlig, the senior editor of the prestigious the Journal of Political Economy.  Uhlig is also the Bruce Allen and Barbara Ritzenthaler Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago.  The reason is that Uhlig had the audacity to criticize Black Lives Matters and the movement to Defund The Police. Joining this effort is New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who is striking out at someone for giving his opposing view — an intolerant position that now appears to be official policy at the New York Times.  It is all part of the new order where writers call for censorship, academics call for removing academic freedoms, artists call for art removal, and politicians call for dismantling police.

Uhlig wrote on Twitter Monday night: “Too bad, but #blacklivesmatter  per its core organization @Blklivesmatter  just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of #defundthepolice.”

He added:

“Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying oh, it just means funding schools (who isn’t in favor of that?!?).But no, the so-called ‘activists’ did not want that. Back to truly ‘defunding’ thus, according to their website. Sigh. #GeorgeFloyd and his family really didn’t deserve being taken advantage of by flat-earthers and creationists. Oh well. Time for sensible adults to enter back into the room and have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all: e.g. policy reform proposals by @TheDemocrat  and national healing.”

His comments immediately led to an effort to get him fired including the ever-present online petition where viewpoint intolerance is some how strengthened by numbers.  Leading this ignoble, anti-free speech effort are academics like University of Michigan professor Justin Wolfers who teaches in the Ford Public Policy school but appears to have a strikingly low tolerance for opposing views on public policy.

Uhlig is accused of “trivializing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement” and “hurting and marginalizing people of color and their allies in the economics profession.” He is also being denounced because he did not support the NFL kneelers.  In 2017, he wrote

 ‘In any case, it is pretty clear, that the current kneeling and the current defense-of-freedom-of-speech is not about some courageous act of standing up for democratic values.

‘I would so love that to be true, really. Instead, it is all just Anti-Trump-ism.’


A letter calling for Uhlig’s ouster states ‘Prof. Uhlig’s comments published on his blog and Twitter posts dated June 8th, trivializing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and drawing parallels between the BLM movement and the Ku Klux Klan, are outrageous and unacceptable.”

The KKK accusation appears to be derived from a blog post in which he asked: “Would you defend football players waving the confederate flag and dressing in Ku Klux Klan garb during the playing of the national anthem?”  That does not “draw a comparison” between the movements. It makes a standard comparison between acts of expression, a typical “slippery slope” argument used in countless academic and legal works.

Krugman however does not seem even slightly interested in the context and instead cried “white privilege” – a label that now routinely precedes terminations of editors, academics, and others who disagree with a new orthodoxy:

Krugman called him 'yet another privileged white man' in a series of tweets

Krugman called him ‘yet another privileged white man’ in a series of tweets

A letter calling for his removal as the Lead Editor of the Journal of Political Economy has been gaining support from academics including University of Michigan professor Justin Wolfers
Academics from around the US further criticized Uhlig for his comments

Uhlig was called a racist by academics like University of Victoria economist Rob Gillezeau who wrote: “Racists shouldn’t be allowed to gatekeep our profession.”

I understand that Uhlig’s writings upset people. Academics often upset people, sometimes by design, in advancing unpopular perspectives.  I can also understand why people would be uniquely ticked when they read a posting mocking the protests like this one:

“Look: I understand, that some out there still wish to go and protest and say #defundpolice and all kinds of stuff, while you are still young and responsibility does not matter. Enjoy! Express yourself! Just don’t break anything, ok? And be back by 8 pm.”

Much like a recent controversy of a UCLA professor it was a mocking tone that many would not have taken.  However, this is a political debate that is raging around the country and many on both sides are using superheated or ironic or mocking language.  What we have not seen are demands to can academics using such language on the other side like fellow Chicago Professor Leiter.  

Nevertheless, Uhlig issued an apology:

“My tweets in recent days and an old blog post have apparently irritated a lot of people. That was far from my intention… My tweets in recent days and an old blog post have apparently irritated a lot of people. That was far from my intention: let me apologize for that. Did I choose my words and comparisons wisely? I did not. My apology, once again.  Let me also make clear that all these are just my views, not pronouncements by the JPE and most certainly not the @UChicago or my department.”

The attack on Uhlig as “white privilege” has become a common refrain. We recently discussed how the President of the Minneapolis City Council dismissed anyone who voices concerns over defunding or dismantling the police as just voicing their bias from a “place of privilege.”   Thus, to object to this radical proposal is now proof of privilege.

None of this matter with the wave of intolerance sweeping over our campuses, where academics call for the punishment of fellow academics for voicing opposing views.  Professors like Jennifer Doleac, an economics professor at Texas A&M University, tweeted “Yep, lead editor at a top journal. Hopefully not for much longer.”  It is that simple.

Figures like Klugman are not just the loudest voices, they are now the only voices that seem to appear on the pages of newspapers like the New York Times.  What was striking about the recent controversy over the column by Sen. Tom Cotten was not just the writers at the New York Times calling for the resignation of their editors and barring future columns with such opposing views. It was the silence of the other writers who did not utter a word as their newspaper yielded to these demands.  As I discussed earlier, however, history has shown that today’s rebels often become tomorrow’s reactionaries.  Such attacks on individuals like Uhlig will not stop with him. It becomes an insatiable appetite as the intolerance for opposing views grows.

Recently, protesters took over a precinct in Seattle and declared it the People’s autonomous zone. I was struck by one flier of one of the protesters that read “I support this, but what’s next?”

For those who are joining calls for sack editors and fire academics, it is a question that should concentrate their minds.


67 thoughts on “Writers and Academics Call For Removal Of Chicago Professor For Criticizing BLM and Defunding Police”

  1. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!! For years the conservative’s point of view has been called “intolerant” and “bigoted”. Now these communistic anarchists are revealing their TRUE motives and ideological positions. They don’t want a seat at the table of discussion. They are demanding that they are the ONLY seat at the table!!! They are true Marist/fascist totalitarians. Their tactics and rhetoric are taken right out of the Bolsheviks playbook. Despite all the agenda driven network news propaganda, American’s will rise up at the ballot box this November and secure FREEDOM for ALL AMERICANS not just the few.

  2. Sheep in wolves’ clothing–their accoutrements a form of self-delusion. They are nothing but followers bleeting a lockstep screed. The motivation to this often includes a self-righteous desire to coronate themselves among the bastions of virtue for all to witness. It is more about them individually than any success in a cause they proportedly subscribe.

    In some Christian teachings, actual and true virtue is the giving of alms to the needy, not publically announcing to all that he or she is doing the giving. That is an important distinction. Yet in the case of these academics, the foundation of their actions are not only without merit, much less charity, that their self-proclaimations are doubly as contemptable.For it is done to attack another man’s career and reputation in order to facilitate their own self promotion.

    In time the big surprise for them will be when there is a then-current shortage of available scapegoats to character assasinate and they soon turn this need for drama and strife inward and attack each other, for one can never truly be liberal or woke enough to satisfy the groupthink nor be without a need for an enemy whoever it might be. If one simply removes themselves from this morass of moral and intellectual decay and finds a rewarding and fruitful life elsewhere, the types of individuals subject of this article will eventually leave you alone and they’ll fight amongst themselves and be their own demise. That way you can live a life of your own choosing and they can have their own small little world of mutual condemnation.

    1. If one simply removes themselves from this morass of moral and intellectual decay and finds a rewarding and fruitful life elsewhere, the types of individuals subject of this article will eventually leave you alone and they’ll fight amongst themselves and be their own demise.

      it is far too late for that. We no longer trust each other.

      In a previous era we alienated evil. Now we frolic in it. Society once cast them out from society. Those who feared God or had respect for godly living, could interact with the masses with open arms or a sincere greeting.Today we have CHAZ, Washington DC Mayor vs the President, NY Times vs First Amendment. and of course Left vs Right. Good vs Evil is no longer a thing. Now everyone is evil, according to the MSM, but especially Christians

      We sit on our front porch and wave to passerby’s, smile to those whom we encounter and treat others as if God sent them our way as angels or a missionary field: broken people. Try as we might, the fear is palpable from our porch.

      At home we are discussing buying a couple of AR-15s given our region. To our shock, coworkers are also discussing it as well

      Red Coats vs Blue Coats
      South vs North
      “Marxist” vs “Fascist”

      who will fire the first shot?

      1. Anonymous, you live a privileged life in a peaceful time, in a democracy you are fully able to participate in. If anything, our differences as citizens are miniscule compared to some of the past – 1/2 the country used to believe in actual slavery, and later in segregation – and we were faced with our monumental issues like our entry into 2 world wars where the threat was existential. Quit being a drama queen.

        Our differences by comparison are real but trumped up – pun intended – by those who make money on it selling advertising. They are small differences compared to the past which we survived and progressed from. We are still a centrist country with no actual nazi or communist party in our legislatures – they do exist in other democracies. That is partly due to our winner take all elections but partly due to their also being no membership that breaks several 100 thousand.

        Implying you are going to shoot those you disagree with is bad citizenship, almost certainly false macho bluster, and kid’s stuff. Grow up!

      2. Im not against guns, i went down that road far and fast. my thinking has evolved.

        gardens and durable social networks will be more important than guns as time goes by.,

        we have tons of guns out there. the problem with people buying guns is they think the problem is solved. this is cowboy thinking. cowboys did not win the west, the cavalry did. and the cavalry had most of all, logistics support and organization. guns failed at little big horn. who’s going to pull guard duty when you sleep? you need community to live. individualism is a dead end.

        guns don’t kill, people do. guns don’t fire themselves. right wingers say this but they misunderstand the implications for what should be done to make yourself stronger and more secure. not buy more guns, no, make more friends, and develop your flows of material resources. get off that porch fast and get busy

        we need resources and expertise and friends. you need durable social networks

        I have been telling people this for decades. some of my fellow “deplorables” are dense about it, mired in cowboy tropes, but the ideas are getting out.

        James Howard Kunster’s book is the thing to read now.


    2. It is more about them individually than any success in a cause they proportedly subscribe.

      This was a thoughtful comment and on one level I would agree. Having narcissists that hate this country, actively working in industries that control what the people learn through formal education, social media and entertainment, isn’t something that will implode on its own. Their efforts have borne fruit by getting like-minded people inside our local, state and federal government. CHAZ is a perfect example of how this destructive, narcissistic marriage will not end without an intervention.

    3. Darren, they are not sheep, they are wolves, or at least, a pack of curs, acting in concert.

      if we are not wolves too, then it is we who are the sheep.

      A great American named Jack London said “the strength of the wolf is in the pack”

      pack against pack is the future. it will be what it always has been, contests of cunning, cohesion, numbers, power, & strength

  3. We talked to our travel agent and have booked our summer vacation in Chaz. We getting so excited, we can’t wait.

  4. “Would you defend football players waving the confederate flag and dressing in Ku Klux Klan garb during the playing of the national anthem?” That does not “draw a comparison” between the movements.

    HUH? please re-think this one. If it is understood that there is no comparison between the KKK and BLM, then it shouldn’t be hard to understand how a logically consistent person could defend the act of kneeling and not defend waving the confederate flag and dressing in KKK garb. The only way for the point to make sense as a “slippery slope” argument is to take a logical step that presumes a comparison between the two movements. Which is exactly what “drawing a comparison” means.

    1. Yes, I would defend someone charged with a crime for only waving a Confederate flag.

      It isn’t illegal.

      California should adopt it as the state flag since they seem bent on secession.

    2. NFL players are employees. One of their job duties is (or, was until recently) to stand for the national anthem. If you accept that it’s okay for an employee to ignore his job duties if he really, really feels like kneeling, you are on a slippery slope to accept any absurd alternative to fulfilling one’s job duties. The slippery slope argument does not require one to draw a comparison among kneeling and whatever the absurd alternative happens to be.

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