A group of Stanford University professors is trying to silence fellows of its Hoover Institution simply for being conservative.
Hoover Institute fellows Scott Atlas, Niall Ferguson, and Victor Davis Hanson wrote of the attempt in The Stanford Review, the university’s independent newspaper:
In a recent meeting of the Stanford Faculty Senate, four professors (Joshua Landy, Stephen Monismith, David Palumbo-Liu and David Spiegel) presented and then subsequently published a farrago of falsehoods directed against various fellows of the Hoover Institution. Their complaint was, first, that the Hoover fellows’ views were unapologetically conservative and, second, that they appeared antithetical to the majority of those of the Stanford community—and were therefore properly subject to some sort of institutional and personal censure.
The three fellows wrote that the professors wanted to create a “faculty-controlled committee to investigate Hoover” in an attempt to intimidate the institute into silence. Thankfully for the Hoover Institution, Stanford’s president, provost, and former provost defended the think tank and academic freedom in general.
Damage was still done, however, as the faculty members were able to manage “maligning” the three fellows “as individuals.” The president, they wrote, left the impression that the fellows had “behaved inappropriately” or “spoken untruths.”
As the fellows wrote, this is not the first time Stanford has tried to cut ties with Hoover, a public policy think tank focused on “promoting the principles of individual, economic, and political freedom.” In February 2019, for example, the university’s faculty senate heavily criticized Hoover for being conservative, calling its ideological adherence to conservative principles “intellectually bankrupt.” This month, the student-run newspaper Stanford Daily attacked Hoover fellows “without contacting them and giving them a reasonable amount of time to respond, in contravention of the paper’s own “Policies and Standards,” the fellows wrote. In November, the paper’s editorial board called on Stanford “to separate itself from Hoover.”
In addition to the public attacks, the fellows wrote, they are also excluded from Stanford’s Academic Council even though they are also fellows at Stanford. Hoover fellows are also not represented on the faculty senate “unless they hold a joint appointment with a Stanford department” and are therefore not able to defend themselves from faculty attacks.
“The accusations against us three last week were as various as they were untrue. And all were presented regardless of clear and published evidence to the contrary,” the fellows wrote.
The faculty members accused Atlas of violating “the American Medical Association’s standards for ethical medical conduct” while serving as an adviser to President Donald Trump and accused him of being helping to cause the deaths of “tens of thousands of Americans.”
“Those serious charges were based on straw-man arguments and gross distortions of Atlas’s words, as pointed out by others. In misrepresenting Atlas’s statements, Stanford faculty members intended to delegitimize him and his analysis,” the fellows wrote.
The faculty members accused Hanson of writing articles that “formed the backdrop to an insurrection that cost 5 lives and threatened the lives of Representatives, Congressional staff, and the Vice President, as well as our constitutional democracy.” Those articles actually pointed out issues with mail-in and early voting and changes to state voting laws — problems they say were also acknowledged by scholars at Stanford University Law School. Hanson, they wrote, never questioned the legitimacy of the election and condemned the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
Ferguson was accused of “conspire[ing] with College Republicans to conduct ‘opposition research’ on a Stanford undergraduate.” The fellows note that the conspiracy never happened and the research was never conducted.
Some of the faculty members who launched the latest attacks against them, the fellows wrote, have previously advocated for free speech and diversity of viewpoints.