The university on Monday denounced a paid advertising campaign accusing associate professor of political science Hakeem Jefferson of being one of “Stanford’s most racist professors.”
The ad, which has since been removed by Facebook, was managed by the Most Racist Colleges and Universities account and sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He claimed that “Stanford loves racist professors” and denounced Jefferson’s research on the intersection of race and politics. Accusing Jefferson of blaming whiteness for opposing school mask mandates, the ad was an excerpt from an extended blog post condemning his ideologies and academic work, as well as critical race theory in general.
Facebook pulled the ad after several requests from the University and alerted Jefferson when they did.
Jefferson said the allegations made against him in the ad are completely false. However, the claims didn’t have to be true to be dangerous, Jefferson said. The language of the advertisement put a target on his back and invited racist harassment, as he suffered throughout his years in academia, he added.
âI have seen what types of messages come in when organizations like Breitbart and TP [Turning Point] The United States or a number of those other organizations choose to distinguish me in particular, âJefferson said. “I frequently receive emails that use the n word and make racist statements about me and my character.”
Jefferson believes the ad campaign is an effort by the David Horowitz Freedom Center “to stir up a kind of racial fear and racial resentment among a segment of the population.”
“This is an attempt to intimidate and silence academics like me who are bold and clear and who take positions that clarify the centrality of race and white racism in American society,” he said. declared.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center did not respond to a request for comment. The center is classified as a hate organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy group, which describes it as a “think tank housing various projects and publications designed to combat Horowitz’s self-proclaimed ideological warfare. against Islam and the left. ”
The University has expressed its support to all faculty members to continue their work freely and without fear.
âAt Stanford, we strongly affirm the right of all our academics to continue their academic work and to express their opinions in a safe manner,â Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Faculty of Humanities Dean Debra Satz wrote in their statement denouncing the advertising campaign. “And, if a member of our community is subjected to threats to their personal safety, as has happened in some cases in the past, we will take all measures with the participation of law enforcement agencies to protect their property. -to be.”
Although Jefferson expressed gratitude for the University’s statement, he said it was “not as bold or courageous a statement as I would have written.” He added that he appreciated that Stanford quickly asked Facebook to remove the ad until it was removed.
But Jefferson said he was disappointed that Tessier-Lavigne took several days to issue a public statement condemning the publicity and asserting his credibility as a speaker. During these days, other faculty took to Twitter to express similar frustration at the University’s belated public response.
“Like a A member of the Stanford faculty, I am also alongside our colleague, Hakeem Jefferson, and urges Stanford to support his research, his academic freedom and his right to safely express his opinions without being racially assaulted, âsaid James Landay, professor of computer science. wrote in a tweet.
Speaker at Stanford Ruth Starkman noted on Twitter, “It’s not hard to publicly assert a young black faculty member, whose work enhances Stanford culture in every way.” Are we not determined to hire and retain black teachers? ”
This is not the first time that the University has been criticized for a late reaction to cases of racism and other fanaticism. Last summer, Tessier-Lavigne sentenced a former student for a series of racist and threatening social media posts following numerous emails and petitions sent by other students. After Tessier-Lavigne released his statement, some students challenged that he did not denounce the posts as racist, but simply violent.
The University also criticized an open letter from faculty members denouncing Scott Atlas, a Hoover scholar who made false scientific claims and claims that undermine public health policies. Tessier-Lavigne did not release a statement distancing Stanford from Atlas until Comrade Hoover encouraged the people of Michigan to rise up against their governor.
However, the University’s statement was ultimately widely appreciated. Freeman Spogli Institute principal investigator, Hoover Institution principal investigator and professor of German studies and comparative literature Russell Berman added that Stanford must protect minority professors, and he said he was happy that they have done it.
âIt is always important for the university to uphold academic freedom, which also extends to professors, not just professors on the academic council,â said Berman. “I think it’s also important to understand the particular kind of risk black academics face when studying race.”
Beatriz Magaloni, Saad Gulzar, David Laitin and Daniel E. Ho, faculty members of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Department of Political Science, expressed concern for Jefferson’s well-being at the following the viral publicity, affirmed their support for Jefferson and said his voice is “critical at the time of racial reckoning that we see in this country.”
Comparative literature professor David Palumbo-Liu, who has also been the victim of online harassment in the past, expressed solidarity with Jefferson and denounced the ad campaign.
“The latest attack on Professor Jefferson is yet another result of intentional cyber-harassment both here and across the country,” Palumbo-Liu wrote in a statement to The Daily. “While such harassment (unlawful in California) is largely aimed at liberal and progressive academics, the people who carry out these attacks target climate scientists, medical professionals and others.”
A full report on online harassment of academics, which will include Jefferson’s case, will be presented to the Faculty Senate by the Campus Climate Committee on November 18. Those who wish to hear the report can attend it live.
According to a tweet from the University of California, San Diego professor David Fortunato, there is a link between the Hoover Institution and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Hoover Institution Fellow Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Thornton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Hoover institution did not respond to a request for comment.
The Hoover Institution has already come under intense scrutiny from faculty members. Last year, a resolution was presented to the Faculty Senate for Stanford to reassess its relationship with the Hoover Institution. The resolution failed.
The University did not respond to a request for comment on whether Stanford would launch an investigation into whether the ad campaign had anything to do with the Hoover Institution.
This article has been updated to reflect that Russell Berman is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.