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Culture Beat / May 30, 2017

PC Culture Reigns at Duke

A Duke Divinity School professor was forced out for engaging in just the kind of debate that should happen in college.

The intolerance of free speech on America’s college and university campuses has seemingly reached epidemic levels. And the heart of the problem lies not with those fervent social justice warrior (SJW) students, but within academia itself. A telling example comes out Duke Divinity School, where a professor was forced out for essentially daring to speak his mind.

The issue that sparked the professor’s ouster began with a faculty-wide email sent by Anathea Portier-Young, a professor of Old Testament studies with expertise in “constructions of identity, gender, and ethnicity, and traditions of violence and nonviolence.” Portier-Young’s email invited the faculty to participate in the “Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training,” which states: “Racism is a fierce, ever-present, challenging force, one which has structured the thinking, behavior and actions of individuals and institutions since the beginning of U.S. history.” Clearly, there’s a leftist SJW agenda behind this training.

Professor Paul Griffith chose to respond to this public email by sending his own faculty-wide email in which he encouraged his colleagues not to go to the training. “There’ll be bromides, clichés and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty,” he predicted, and the ideas taught would contain “illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies.” He concluded that the “definitively anti-intellectual … (re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history.” He then dared to suggest that the school’s faculty would benefit more by focusing their time and energy on rededicating themselves to their scholarly pursuits.

Griffith’s email triggered a response from the dean, Elaine Heath, in which she said that she was looking forward to attending the training and issued a warning against “the use of mass emails to express racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry.” Then, after these emails were exchanged, a disciplinary procedure was initiated against Griffith for “unprofessional conduct” due to a complaint filed by Professor Portier-Young accusing him of “harassment” owing to his email counteroffer.

It wasn’t long before Griffith tendered his resignation. He sent the faculty one last letter in which he pointedly asserted, “Tolerance for intellectual pain is less than it was. So is tolerance for argument.” Once heralded as the nation’s greatest bastions of free speech and tolerance, America’s campuses have become little more than oblasts of leftist indoctrination.

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