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.