Concerning Thursday’s front-page stories

| Henry Berger | Professor Emeritus of History

Dear Editor,

Peabody Energy (formerly Coal) Corporation accumulated a dismal and unforgiving record of polluting the environment and shamelessly forcing the removal of people, especially Native Americans, from their homes. That the corporation has funded the creation of a group dedicated to clean coal utilization, at best a debatable proposition, at worst an oxymoron, is beside the point. Perhaps demanding the expulsion of Peabody’s representative on the board of trustees is an unwise (and likely futile) strategy, but the University should be held accountable for its contradictory policy.

The contradictory behavior is particularly specious in the action by the International and Area Studies program constraining and censoring the Remi Kanazi event. In so doing, free speech and academic freedom was compromised, the exact same violation by the American Studies Association when it endorsed the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, an action that the University appropriately condemned. A “balanced” program, in of itself, has never been a requisite for free speech at this University or any other. Every viewpoint, save one that explicitly advocates racial, religious, ethnic, gender or sexual identity hatred, has a right in the public square and that includes the right of rebuttal. The University’s commitment to the mission of free inquiry is thereby upheld.

–Henry Berger

Professor Emeritus of History

Washington University in St. Louis

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