Students and alumni are organizing a campaign to get a Cornell law professor fired or denounced because he was critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. He in no way suggested black lives do not matter, but he did explain the origins of the movement were based on a hoax and criticized the movement’s tactics.
Professor William Jacobson, who has taught law for three decades, now has been targeted by the Cornell mob, angry over two articles he wrote at his popular blog Legal Insurrection. On June 3, Jacobson wrote a blog titled, “The Bloodletting and Wilding Is Part of An Agenda To Tear Down The Country,” about the violence and criminal activity that has broken out across the country following the police-involved death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. On June 4, Jacobson wrote a blog titled, “Reminder: ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ is a fabricated narrative from the Michael Brown case.”
Jacobson wrote on Legal Insurrection that two days after he published the second blog, on June 6, through June 8, more than “15 emails from CLS alumni were received by the Dean of the law school, demanding that action be taken against me ranging from an institutional statement denouncing me to firing.” Jacobson noted that he does not know if that number has increased since last Monday and that the Dean of the law school “properly has defended my writings as protected within my academic freedom, although he strongly disagrees with my views.”
Jacobson wrote that the effort against him appears coordinator, as he has been told “some of the emails were in a template form.” One email was shared with him, which claimed that, in his characterization, his “views are not consistent with the law school Dean’s public statement on police violence and my writings were hurtful and divisive, and the person could not understand why I am still on the faculty. [As an aside, my writings are consistent with the Dean’s statement, but that’s another matter.]”
Then his clinical faculty colleagues worked with the Black Law Students Association to publish a letter in the student-run newspaper The Cornell Sun that denounced “commentators, some of them attached to Ivy League Institutions, who are leading a smear campaign against Black Lives Matter.”
“None of the 21 signatories, some of whom I’d worked closely with for over a decade and who I considered friends, had the common decency to approach me with any concerns. Instead they ran to the Cornell Sun while virtue signaling to students behind the scenes that this was a denunciation of me. Such is the political environment we live in now at CLS,” Jacobson wrote.
Jacobson wrote that BLSA and the other groups fighting against him apparently don’t want him fired “because calling for his firing would only draw more attention to his blog and bolster his platform, and we do not want to give him that satisfaction,” they wrote in documents shared with the law professor.
Jacobson has now challenged a representative from one of the student groups and a faculty member to debate him in a live-streamed event so that he can present his argument and confront the false allegations against him.
In response to media requests about firing or disciplining Jacobson, Cornell Law School dean Eduardo Peñalver released a statement denouncing Jacobson’s writings but saying he would not be disciplined:
In light of this deep and rich tradition of walking the walk of racial justice, in no uncertain terms, recent blog posts of Professor William Jacobson, casting broad and categorical aspersions on the goals of those protesting for justice for Black Americans, do not reflect the values of Cornell Law School as I have articulated them. I found his recent posts to be both offensive and poorly reasoned…. But to take disciplinary action against him for the views he has expressed would fatally pit our values against one another in ways that would corrode our ability to operate as an academic institution.
Even that statement incorrectly categorized what Jacobson wrote, he argued.
“Of course, I did not criticize ‘those protesting for justice for Black Americans,’ I criticized the Black Lives Matters Movement and the rioting and looting and cultural purge. But that’s how it goes. (added) And of course, you don’t see these sort of statements issued for far-left professors. We have one (who I happen to like) who was with Occupy Wall Street and is an advisor to AOC on the Green New Deal, but the school never publicly criticizes his ‘reasoning’ — it’s a one way street and it’s just as much a part of the cancel culture as firing someone,” Jacobson wrote.
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