FIRE Critic on ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’ Blog Acknowledges Error

By on May 8, 2009

I reported on April 16 that University of Pennsylvania professor John L. Jackson Jr. had attacked FIRE in a blog entry published on The Chronicle of Higher Education blog, Brainstorm, over FIRE’s successful efforts to keep Virginia Tech from violating its faculty members’ freedom of conscience and academic freedom. Jackson had erroneously stated that FIRE would "reject any and all nods to affirmative action or other diversity initiatives" and had averred that "Maybe FIRE’s hidden concern is that ‘active involvement in diversity’ could serve as another way of justifying tenure to otherwise undeserving minority scholars."

In fact, FIRE has never taken a position on affirmative action and is nothing like the mischaracterization which appears in Jackson’s post.

On further reflection (and taking the time to read FIRE’s website), however, Jackson has acknowledged his error:

In my first post about FIRE, I called them conservative, and I also intimated that their attack of Virginia Tech’s invocation of "diversity" in its "promotions and tenure" material might also traffic in reactionary discomfort with the increased number of URM [under-represented minority] faculty in the academy. I do think that both characterizations were wrong and a little unfair.

Indeed, time after time, we find that it only takes a few minutes and a few links to our cases for a FIRE critic to realize that we are truly nonpartisan and viewpoint-neutral when it comes to defending individual rights on college campuses.

We sincerely thank Professor Jackson for taking the time to recast his opinion of us and for being willing to publicly correct himself. As those of you who follow FIRE’s work know, despite being caught red-handed violating students’ rights, university administrations very rarely publicly admit they did anything wrong. They could learn a lesson from Professor Jackson.

Again, we encourage Torch readers to read Jackson’s posts for themselves and contribute to the discussion.

Schools: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University