Civil Liberties and Academic Freedom
We write to ask you to join us in expressing concern over the public and university backlash against Professor Nicholas De Genova by attaching your name and institutional affiliation to the letter below. We will forward the letter with signatures to the Columbia University administration and Anthropology Department, the Columbia Spectator, to the New York Times, to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and to the President of the American Anthropological Association, with the suggestion that it be posted to the AAA website and reprinted in Anthropology News.
Please forward this letter to people you think might be inclined to sign.
Please forward this letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the signatures attached, if you receive it on Thursday April 10. We want to have the final letter with collated signatures no later than Thursday at 5:00pm.
Thank you in advance for your attention.
We write out of concern for and in solidarity with Professor Nicholas De Genova, an assistant professor in anthropology and Latino Studies at Columbia University. In recent days, Professor De Genova has been attacked by the national media, physically threatened (including over 1000 death threats), and institutionally reprimanded for remarks that he made at a Columbia University teach-in on March 26, 2003 which have been quoted, sensationally, with minimal account of the context in which they were made.
We believe that this event raises urgent and compelling issues of free-speech, the right of public dissent without fear of recrimination, and academic freedom. These issues, which are especially important in emotionally charged times of war, concern all of us, regardless of one’s position on the war or on the content of Professor De Genova’s comments.
We are concerned above all with our colleague’s physical safety (including his family’s). We are also concerned about ways in which his university may act, officially or implicitly, to punish his exercise of free-speech and contravene the principle of academic freedom. The personalized way in which the Columbia administration, the Anthropology Department, and his fellow faculty members have isolated and denounced Professor DeGenova lead us to believe that both of these fears are well-grounded.
At a time when all of our rights to free speech, non-violent association, and legal dissent are under attack, we support Professor De Genova’s right to have spoken freely as an invited participant to an open forum. We would like to register our strong opposition to any personal, professional, or legal, retaliation that might be directed at him for having made these remarks.