You may have heard of the professor watchlist put together by Turning Point USA, a conservative activist organization. As I understand it, the list is meant to point out unfair progressive or radical professors in the United States so that students can be forewarned before taking their classes. In some ways this is a brilliant move for Turning Point. It has attracted attention to a group that most of us had no previous knowledge about.
But I am not a fan of compiling lists of people who supposedly have something wrong with them. Some of the professors on the list have expressed dismay at this effort to stigmatize them. I don’t blame them. We should criticize individuals as individuals. This list stereotypes them as members of a group.
Perhaps I am also uncomfortable with this list because I know what it is like to be a professor. Every word is scrutinized. Anything I say or write can easily be taken out of context, to make me whatever kind of monster someone wants me to be: racist, sexist, homophobic, simple-minded or any other sort of social pariah. It’s all too possible that some very thoughtful professors have been mixed in with those who really do traffic in political bigotry and Christianophobia. (I have no idea how carefully the charges against the professors on the list have been investigated.)
Read more at The Stream.