The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

MSU Professor Silenced

Sep 16, 2013

A Michigan State University professor was removed from his classes after an eight-minute video was posted of his criticism of the Republican Party. It is an attack on academic freedom on campus.

William Penn is a professor of creative writing at the university. An American Indian, he has written several books dealing with identity issues and stereotypes. He has won several national awards and grants. His classes are popular–held in 400-seat rooms, they rapidly fill up. He expresses his opinions–always making it clear that they are opinions. It is safe to say that any student who enrolls in his class probably knows what to expect.

But one student, who apparently disagrees with Penn’s opinions, recorded a video and uploaded it to a conservative website. It took only one day for Republicans across the state of Michigan–including several Republicans on MSU’s Board of Trustees–to call for Penn’s head. And only one day more for MSU’s deans to supply it.

Apparently the University is so worried about the “free exchange of ideas” on the campus that they will remove any professor who expresses any controversial ideas!

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak called it “bullying in the classroom” and said it “does not belong in our children’s classrooms.” Children? These are legal adults, who SHOULD be able to hear strongly worded opinions and decide for themselves whether they agree or not! They don’t need to be protected by ideas; they need to be engaged in them.

The University is flat-out telling professors that they can’t express any unapproved political ideas in the classroom, or they will be punished. They are threatening to rip out any teachers who question anything about the status quo.

The reactionaries pushing this political climate are reaching their tentacles as far as they can throughout the society–and those tentacles will go deeper and deeper, unless the reactionaries are pushed back into the McCarthyite hole they slithered out of!