Harvard University: Professor Fired for Newspaper Column

Category: Cases
Schools: Harvard University

On July 16, 2011, in response to a terrorist bombing in Mumbai, India, Harvard University economics professor Subramanian Swamy published a critical column in the Indian Daily News & Analysis newspaper. Swamy’s controversial column offered ideas on how to “negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India,” including a call to “[r]emove the masjid [mosque] in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 masjids at other temple sites.” In response, several Harvard students circulated a petition demanding that Harvard terminate Swamy’s employment. Harvard Summer School Dean Donald H. Pfister initially said that Harvard would give the case “serious attention,” prompting a letter from FIRE. Harvard administrators took no further action, but in December 2011, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to cancel Swamy’s scheduled summer 2012 courses, with multiple faculty members claiming Swamy’s column was “hate speech” that incited people to violence.
  • Over the Line

    December 8, 2011

    In an unusual move, Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted this week to eliminate two summer school courses in economics because of anti-Muslim statements the instructor made in an op-ed published in India. When word about the op-ed spread in July, some Harvard students demanded that Subramanian Swamy be fired. At the time, Harvard pledged to look into the situation, but noted that it is “central to the mission of a university to protect free speech, including that of Dr. Swamy and of those who disagree with him.” But faculty members this week cited the nature of his statements as […]

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  • Harvard instructor under fire for anti-terrorism op-ed attacking Muslims

    August 1, 2011

    A Harvard Summer School economics instructor is under fire and facing calls for his termination after publishing an article calling for strong political action to combat Islamic terrorism in India. On July 16, Harvard instructor Subramanian Swamy wrote an op-ed in the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis, “How to Wipe Out Islamic Terror,” in response to the July 13th Mumbai bombings that killed 23 people. In the op-ed, Swamy wrote that Muslims in India “are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus.” The solution, Swamy wrote, is a unified […]

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  • Harvard Instructor May Face Removal Over Anti-Muslim Op-Ed

    July 30, 2011

    Subramanian Swamy, a Harvard Summer School economics instructor and a political leader in India, wrote an op-ed called “How to Wipe Out Islamic Terror” for the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis on July 16, in response to the July 13th Mumbai bombings that killed 23 people. The article, that “many have called offensive and inflammatory,” according to the Harvard Crimson, has since spurred over 200 people to sign a petition demanding that the administration “repudiate Swamy’s remarks and terminate his association with the University.” In the op-ed in question, Swamy proposes the following response to Islamic terrorism in India: […]

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  • ‘Harvard Crimson’ Exposes Violations of Free Speech in Policies Identified by FIRE

    January 30, 2012

    FIRE’s annual report on campus speech codes has reached more and more college and university campuses since we released it a few weeks ago. Today The Harvard Crimson‘s Rebecca D. Robbins reports on Harvard’s poor, “red light” speech code rating in FIRE’s report. We explained Harvard’s rating in detail a couple of years ago, showing how Harvard’s policies violate its own promises of free expression: Even Harvard’s Free Speech Guidelines [adopted by Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in 1990], which extol the university’s unique status and its unique commitment to free speech, take with one hand as they […]

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  • Harvard Faculty Fires Economics Professor over Political Article Published in India

    December 8, 2011

    Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) has effectively fired a controversial economics professor by canceling all of his courses due to an op-ed he published in India in the wake of the July 13 Mumbai terrorist bombing. Although Harvard’s administration had defended Professor Subramanian Swamy’s rights after intervention by FIRE, FAS blatantly and shamefully violated them in its meeting on Tuesday. Anyone reading the op-ed will have no trouble detecting why it was controversial, but this action by the Harvard faculty places speech and academic freedom in danger at Harvard. On July 16, 2011, Swamy published an opinion piece in the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis in response to series of […]

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  • Victory at Harvard: University Stands Up for Rights of Controversial Professor

    September 22, 2011

    While Harvard has been the target of much deserved criticism of late due to its stumbles with the new “Class of 2015 Freshman Pledge” pressuring students to commit to vague notions of “kindness” as well as “inclusiveness and civility,” it has acquitted itself better in one recent situation where many students—on their own—have been pushing their own values to a fault. Against student pressure to fire him, Harvard has successfully defended free speech for economics instructor Subramanian Swamy, who published a controversial column in an Indian newspaper advocating drastic solutions to the issue of Islamic terrorism in India. Swamy’s ideas […]

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  • Harvard, India, Swamy, and the Right to Advocate for Radical Social Change

    August 1, 2011

    Last week, FIRE wrote Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust after learning from The Harvard Crimson that the university was giving “serious attention” to student calls to fire economics professor Subramanian Swamy because of his expression in a column he wrote for a newspaper in India. The news of FIRE’s involvement has gone worldwide, appearing in the Times of India, Deccan Herald (India), Oman Tribune, North Korea Times (yes, that’s weird), and elsewhere, mainly via an Indo-Asian News Service article based on an update in the Crimson. Swamy’s July 16 column, in response to a terrorist bombing a few days earlier in Mumbai, offered ideas on how to […]

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  • Harvard Must Remember Free Speech Promises, End Investigation of Professor’s Newspaper Column

    July 28, 2011

    FIRE has written to Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust after learning from The Harvard Crimson that the university was giving “serious attention” to student calls to fire economics professor Subramanian Swamy because of his expression in a column he wrote for a newspaper in India.  On July 16, in the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis, Swamy wrote  the column in response to a terrorist bombing a few days earlier in Mumbai, offering strongly-worded ideas on how to “negate the political goals of Islamic terrorism in India.” Among his ideas were that India “[e]nact a national law prohibiting conversion from Hinduism to any other religion,” “[r]emove the masjid [mosque] […]

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