Phi Beta Cons

Boston U. Hires a Prof Who Makes Steven Salaita Look Mild

Remember the uproar over the tweets of Professor Steven Salaita — the vitriolic ranting that caused the University of Illinois to decide not to finalize the offer of a faculty position in its American Indian Studies department? Boston University has hired a woman, Saida Grundy, as assistant professor of sociology and African-American Studies who makes him look mild in comparison. As reported here, her tweets display a boiling animosity toward whites and especially white males.

But unlike Illinois, Boston U. can’t back out even though it should be obvious that Grundy is a walking time-bomb of hostility — and we aren’t talking about microaggression.

Boston U’s president Robert Brown has lamely criticized her, writing, “I understand there is a broader context to Dr. Grundy’s tweets and that, as a scholar, she has the right to pursue her research, formulate her views, and challenge the rest of us to think differently about race relations. But we must also recognize that words have power and the words in her Twitter feed were powerful in the way they stereotyped and condemned other people.” Exactly what “research” has led her to conclude that the white race is to blame for all our problems? And while Brown says that “words have power,” he apparently fears to say that words like hers have no place in a scholarly community.

For her part, now that attention has been focused on her tweets, Grundy (Ph.D. from University of Michigan) says she regrets having said what she said. Perhaps, but is there any reason to believe that she has changed her mind?

Finally, the defenses of Grundy written by a few BU students are themselves very revealing. For instance, one student hauls out the moral equivalence argument, pointing out that Fox News is making a big deal about Grundy’s tweets. Since Fox News is bad, Grundy’s tweeting is absolved!

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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