Monday, March 06, 2006

Ellis in wonderland

Over at Adventures in Histomat Snowball draws attention to a campaign to have Norman Ellis sacked from Leeds University. Ellis, who likes to quote The Bell Curve and Enoch Powell, believes that most Africans are retarded and that non-whites should be removed from Britain. Obviously I agree that the bloke is a nasty piece of work, but I worry about appeals to vice chancellors to sack academic workers for essentially ideological reasons.

The danger is that if the vice chancellor is allowed to sack people for their views then he or she will soon get around to knocking off a few obnoxious lefties. David Horowitz's neo-McCarthyite campaign to rid against academic of 'subversives' is already making noise in the US. What's to stop the right, which has always equated communism and fascism, campaigning against Marxist academics, on the grounds that they are apologists for 'totalitarianism'? What's to stop a witch hunt against anti-war movements on campus, on the grounds that supporters of Iraqi resistance to occupation are supporters of terrorism?

I think it's great that they are angry with Ellis but, even if the end result is the same, I'd prefer to see students boycotting the man's lectures, or turning up to his lectures and disrupting them by demolishing his arguments, rather than appealing to the vice chancellor to sack him.


Blogger Snowball said...

A few points.

1. I am not sure if the Observer article mentioned it but Ellis has a history of speaking on platforms with members of the KKK and other American Fascists - he is not only a racist but also arguably a Fascist sympathiser.

2. Can you really call a former Professor an 'academic worker'? Surely they are part of the middle class once they reach that level? He is not a member of the AUT [lecturers union] and indeed describes the AUT as 'totalitarian'.

3. I think academic freedom is vitally important but when you have an open racist who thinks black people and women are inherently intellectually inferior then that goes beyond the bounds of what is acceptable in any position of authority over others(which a lecturer is to some extent in with respect to their students).

11:31 pm  

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