WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2012
And now at Boston Globe, “Pushed out of Harvard, professor returns fire: Dismissal stirs debate over free speech“:
Subramanian Swamy is an outspoken man. That is what got him into trouble last July. While teaching economics at the Harvard University summer school, he penned a sharply worded column for a newspaper in India, where he is a prominent right-wing politician.
Many readers thought his proposals would deny Muslims basic rights and incite riots. Some 40 Harvard professors called for his dismissal.
But the furor died down, or appeared to, after Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, defended Swamy’s right to free speech as “central to the mission of a university.’’ The economics department invited him back for another summer. Swamy heard nothing else from Harvard.
Then, a few weeks ago, he checked his e-mail and learned – from a Google Alert for his name – that his colleagues had fired him anyway.
Encouraged by a private note from the summer school’s dean, professors who opposed Swamy came to a faculty meeting where summer classes were to be approved. The process is usually a rubber-stamp affair, but the professors argued so passionately that Swamy’s courses were voted off the slate. No one told Swamy about the meeting.
Now, the case has devolved into an imbroglio about hate speech and academic freedom. The professors who led the charge against Swamy are buried in angry e-mails from his supporters in India. Others are torn, despising both Swamy’s column and the way he was relieved of his duties. Faust is in an awkward spot: She is scheduled to visit India in January.
And the usually outspoken Swamy – who has made few public comments on the issue, save a few Twitter postings – is finally firing back.
“I was surprised Harvard would do this, given that the president’s office said free speech was sacred,’’ he said in an interview. “The people who cut me out are leftists who have nothing to do with economics. There’s no allegation that in my class I said anything offensive. There’s no allegation that it has affected my research. It’s almost like the Spanish Inquisition – they didn’t give me a chance.’’
The professor may indeed be controversial, but the reaction by the Harvard faculty is totalitarian.
But read the whole thing, at the link.