A new website claiming to help conservatives recognize particularly liberal professors called out two Penn professors.
Professor Watchlist is an online directory that lists various professors accused of promoting radical liberal agendas on their college or university campuses. According to the website, its main goal is “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” While some conservatives have praised the list as a practical show of free speech, others have warned that it may normalize the shaming of professors for their work and impact their ability to get jobs.
Two Penn professors are included in the Watchlist: Anthea Butler and Regina Austin.
Butler, who is an associate professor of religious studies and graduate chair in the Department of Religious Studies, is listed as having said that “God is a white racist” and as having “called GOP presidential candidate and highly successful African-American neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, a racial slur for supporting people’s rights to own and fly the Confederate flag.”
In a statement provided to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Butler wrote, “I am aware of the Professor Watchlist, and as an American citizen, I am reminded of my First Amendment right to free speech under the Constitution. I also know and appreciate the University of Pennsylvania’s commitment to academic freedom. As a religious historian, I am all too aware of what Professor Watchlist is designed to do. In light of this list, I will continue to enjoy teaching my students the kind of history that exposes the lack of critical thinking this list is designed to promote by attempting to silence academics who disagree with certain social and political viewpoints.”
Austin, who is a professor at Penn Law School, is accused of being “a chief indoctrinator” and promoting “ideas of social justice” within the classroom, according to the website. She did not respond to The DP’s request for comment.
Austin was not available for comment, but according to a statement from Penn Law Associate Dean for Communications Steven Barnes, “Penn Law fully and strongly supports the academic freedom of our faculty, and we are proud of their groundbreaking scholarly work and teaching.”
The Watchlist was created by Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit which aims “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.” The founder and executive director is Charlie Kirk, who has appeared on Fox News and CNBC.
“We essentially argue for free markets and free people on college campuses across the country, in the most treacherous terrain imaginable,” Kirk said during a speech at the Republican National Convention earlier this year.
Currently, there are nearly 200 academics documented in the guide. Each listing includes a photo and description of the academic, as well as links to outside sources and the individual’s university web page.
Six faculty members are listed in the “featured” section of the Watchlist. These include Brittney Cooper, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, Charles Angeletti, a history professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Julio Cesar Pino, an associate professor of history at Kent State University.
Visitors to the website are encouraged to donate to help “identify, and expose more professors who have demonstrated liberal bias in the classroom.” Readers are also allowed to submit tips for new additions to the Watchlist. The site states that it will only include profiles on those individuals who have been previously covered by other sources.
While Turning Point USA says it supports free speech in and out of the classroom, the Watchlist site states that “students, parents, and alumni deserve to know the specific incidents and names of professors that advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”
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