Professors at Emory University and University of North Georgia are targeted in a new list intended to “expose” professors a right-wing group sees as having a left-wing bias. But critics see its publication as a potential threat to academic freedom.
The mission of Professor Watchlist, a project of conservative student group Turning Point USA, is to “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
The University of North Georgia’s Matthew Boedy, an assistant professor in its English department, is on the list for opposing the campus carry bill during this year’s spring legislative session. The bill would have allowed college students to carry concealed weapons on campus. His stance was shared by staunch conservatives and mainstream institutions. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the bill, which was also opposed by the University System of Georgia and other leaders of the state’s universities and colleges.
The website cites no evidence of discrimination and does not state why he is thought to be advancing propaganda.
Emory philosophy professor George Yancy, who is included in the Watchlist, was the subject of racial harassment the last time he was singled out by right-wing groups. The Watchlist targets him for “Dear White America,” a 2015 New York Times opinion piece that asks white people to confront the ways in which they are racist:
“I can see your anger. I can see that this letter is being misunderstood. This letter is not asking you to feel bad about yourself, to wallow in guilt. That is too easy. I’m asking for you to tarry, to linger, with the ways in which you perpetuate a racist society, the ways in which you are racist. I’m now daring you to face a racist history which, paraphrasing Baldwin, has placed you where you are and that has formed your own racism. Again, in the spirit of Baldwin, I am asking you to enter into battle with your white self. I’m asking that you open yourself up; to speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside of you.”
As with Boedy, the website cites no evidence of discrimination or propaganda.
Critics have seen the list as a potential threat to academic freedom. Both appeared recently on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On Second Thought,” where Boedy made references to McCarthyism — Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s Red Scare-era practice of making unsubstantiated accusations of anti-American activity.