Yesterday, the Princeton University Board of Trustees, following the recommendation of Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber, fired the Cotsen Professor in the Humanities Joshua Katz. The termination is the culmination of nearly 18 months of a campaign to upend the career of this distinguished scholar and teacher in retaliation for a statement concerning campus politics.
Although the university now claims that its action has nothing to do with Professor Katz’s opposition to a popular campaign to purge Princeton of “anti-Black racism” that supporters claimed to thrive on the campus, the evidence reveals Princeton’s words to be disingenuous. Princeton’s president immediately denounced Professor Katz for his July 8, 2020, article in Quillette. The student newspaper launched a six-month investigation to find events in the professor’s past that could be used against him, and an official Princeton website vilified Professor Katz, alongside scenes of demeaning minstrel shows and the words of the racist scientist William Shockley, as an example of Princetonian racism.
Princeton may claim that the cause of his termination derives from a consensual affair with a student over 15 years ago which Professor Katz admitted and for which he was sanctioned some years ago. Princeton’s 18 months of persecution would suggest instead that that is a double-jeopardy pretext to satisfy the anger of campus activists against him. Princeton has made a mockery of what was once a well-deserved reputation for the protection of freedom of expression.
“The American Council of Trustees and Alumni honored Professor Joshua Katz on July 22, 2020, as a Hero of Intellectual Freedom for his courage and candor,” stated ACTA President Dr. Michael Poliakoff. “An institution of intellectual and moral integrity would have engaged his challenge to the noisome and unethical virtue signaling that masqueraded as social justice. Instead, he endured nearly 18 months of insult, marginalization, and arguably defamation. Today, it reached its culmination with Princeton’s decision to strip him of tenure and fire him. Princeton has violated every principle of academic and intellectual freedom. It has lost both an outstanding professor and citizen of the academy. ACTA stands in complete solidarity with him.”
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