By Alfred de Zayas – May 12, 2022
Review by Alfred de Zayas of the article by Arnold August: “Ukraine-Russia: Sanctions against a ‘pro-Russian’ professor from the University of Montreal, or freedom of speech?”
Arnold August is right in blowing the whistle on the menace to academic freedom and the ethos of independent research posed by pressures of political correctness and the spread of “cancel culture”. This development constitutes moral bankruptcy in any country that considers itself “democratic”, and a fortiori a disgrace in the academic profession. The case of Professor Michael Carley of the University of Montreal is emblematic. It should motivate us all to push back against the increasing terror targeting independent academics. It should open our eyes to the complicity of the mainstream media that repeat defamatory statements against professors and delight in character assassination.
I have observed how the media uncritically echoes evidence-free allegations against both professors and young academics, who see their careers ruined unless they agree to toe the line. Whoever dares have his own opinion and break with “groupthink” pressures — lives dangerously. Arnold August is right in drawing our attention to the atmosphere of intimidation and mobbing that exists in many Canadian and US Universities. I personally know US professors who have been mobbed or who have been denied tenure because of their views on the war in Iraq, on the Israel/Palestine conflict, etc.
University students should be the first to applaud independent thinking, but many students today prefer the comfort zone of conformism. Both male and female students should endeavour to hear the spectrum of views. 2000 years ago, Horace encouraged us in his Odes — Sapere aude! Have the courage to use your own judgment! And in 1912 Lord Halifax warned us “A man that should call everything by its right name would hardly pass the streets without being knocked down as a common Enemy.” It is our responsibility to make this situation change, especially in universities.
Article by Arnold August in French:
Featured image: Laptop computer with mouse, book and smartphone in chains. File photo.
Alfred de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is an American lawyer, writer, historian, expert in the field of human rights and international law and retired high-ranking United Nations official. Since 2012, he has been the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order.
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