The academy doesn’t mind harassment when it aims to be right

University teachers should not be the target of targeted harassment. Stress and fear can have a soothing effect on open research, discouraging scholars from engaging in policy-relevant research. Unfortunately, the academy chooses who to protect from harassment. While progressive scholars are shielded, right-wing teachers are targeted for public outrage.

I know from my experience. I was the victim of a well-organized campaign of targeted harassment from the viral masses with the intention of silencing me through approval and intimidation, which eventually led to my departure from a permanent position – and all because of my research on Alabama’s need for pension reform.

I co-authored a study published by the Markatas Center which found that the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA), like many other public pension systems, was using optimistic estimates and risky investments to hide the fact that their promises to government employees were underfunded. . The study eventually led to a co-authored book published in a series by Cambridge University Press. Our current economic situation has certainly shown the risk of betting on public pensions in order to achieve unrealistically high returns.

Although these results were consistent with the consensus among economists, some political advocates were less enthusiastic about my work. One employee, in particular, Mr. Ralph Wilson, encouraged a viral mob of government employees to harass me. The mob was accompanied by a Facebook group of several thousand government employees intending to fight pension reform efforts. The team backed by the Alabama Retirement System (RSA) was not ashamed to use aggressive and intimidating tactics. Before group administrators privatized the group, members of the group urged each other to protest the pension reform “by force”, “keep their war boots ready” and “don’t forget”.[ing] Second Amendment as a last resort !!! “

When I approached them, they publicly encouraged government employees to contact university administrators, legislators, and university board members to pressure the University of Troy to fire me. The RSA has encouraged these efforts in its newsletter sent to 330,000 government employees and retirees in Alabama. The school teachers wrote to the administrators that they would not recommend Troy University to their high school students. Fellow faculty members pressured administrators to silence me.

I received angry and annoying phone calls and emails. Activists have even docked my home address in a Facebook group, endangering my personal safety and the safety of my family. Fear of the crowd led to intestinal-destructive stress; The threat was realistic enough that I had a safety system installed to help me sleep at night. This led me to relinquish my tenure at Troy University for a position at Central Tennessee State University, confiscating thousands of dollars in retirement benefits.

But targeted incidents of harassment like mine are of no concern to university professors, with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a mission to protect the academic independence of university professors. Although the AAUP issued a statement condemning the targeted harassment of faculty, the “Academic Freedom” panel held last month revealed that their concerns only apply to harassment directed at political left-wing professors.

AAUP’s sponsoring panelist for his anti-harassment program is Mr. Isaac Camola – a professor who is directly linked to the targeted harassment campaign. Camola’s latest book is a collaboration with Ralph Wilson, a very political activist who encouraged me to try to candid. Their co-authored book relies heavily on secret recordings made by Wilson scholars at the 2016 Academic Conference – recordings that were directly targeted and targeted.

In a Wilson recording, a departmental colleague of mine made a regrettable joke about my research on the Alabama public pension system, saying that I took it upon myself to try to bring down the state pension system, which I certainly did not. But that didn’t stop Wilson from using the recordings to promote a conspiracy theory – also promoted by the RSA – that the motivation behind my study was to steal the retirement of Alabama government employees for the benefit of Wall Street billionaires, an absurd claim.

Harassment was effective against me. The leadership of Troy University calmed the crowd by issuing a moratorium on op-ed and media engagement and even canceled the appointment of my colleague as chairman of the department. Discussions about my appointment to a designated chair position, and the corresponding salary increase, were put on hold indefinitely. To add insult to injury, I later learned that Wilson carried out his harassment campaign against me and my colleagues with the knowledge and clear encouragement of a senior AAUP official who promoted these misleading recordings on AAUP’s blog and later provided a large financial grant. Wilson’s activities from AAUP’s Academic Independence Support Fund.

It’s hard for me to imagine a good example of “unwanted, hateful and threatening messages,” “emotional pain” and “cool effects on academic discourse” that the AAUP panel is more concerned about harassment than the abuse I have endured. Which forced me to leave the University of Troy.

The AAUP panel claims that there is no leftist bias in the academy, but while AAUP officials and members on the right support and support the harassment of faculty, it is clear that this is not true. The left-wing bias at the academy seems real and only getting worse.

Daniel J. Smith

Dr. Daniel J. Smith is director of the Institute for Political Economy Research and an associate professor of economics at Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University.

His academic research and policy work uses Austrian and public choice economics to analyze private and public governance institutions.

Daniel J. Receive notifications of new articles from Smith and AIER.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.