Nineteen current and emeritus members of the George Mason University economics department have taken a heroic stand against the attempt by Leftist faculty members and administrators to undermine American academia’s long-standing commitment to academic freedom and intellectual merit. Their Statement of Commitment to Academic Freedom and to Intellectual Merit forthrightly rejects the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda of the Left and unabashedly upholds academic freedom, “the right of students and faculty to express any idea in speech or writing, without fear of university punishment, and secure in the knowledge that the university will protect dissenters from threats and violence on campus.” The statement also expresses unqualified support for “the ideal of intellectual merit – “the right and duty of academic departments to hire and promote the most brilliant, creative, and productive faculty in their fields, and admit the most intellectually promising students, without pressures from the administration.” In polar opposition to the Left-Progressive ideal of diversity based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, etc., the statement’s signatories boldly insist that “viewpoint diversity must be celebrated.”
The statement would be more effective if it had been endorsed by the most prominent classical liberals on the GMU economics faculty, Peter Boettke and Tyler Cowen. I was surprised and dismayed that they failed to sign the statement. The statement would also have carried more weight had it named the specific ideology of those who are ruthlessly trying to suppress the ideals of academic freedom and intellectual merit in American higher education. That ideology is Left Progressivism, which now pervades most of America’s cultural, educational, and political institutions. Finally I found it ironic that a statement celebrating “viewpoint diversity” was posted on two blogs, Café Hayek and Marginal Revolution, neither of which include Mises.org on its “Blogroll” and “Blogs We Like,” respectively. Of all contemporary libertarian and classical liberal institutions, the Mises Institute has been and is the most vigorous, bold, and uncompromising in opposing the Progressive war on Western Civilization.
These minor misgivings aside, Dan Klein, who took the lead in drafting the declaration, and his fellow GMU economists who endorsed it are to be congratulated for standing fast against the Progressive onslaught and courageously affirming the core academic values.