A List of Academic Petitions and Open Letters
This page lists all recent petitions and open letters targeting individual academics or small groups of scholars
[Last updated: 24th August, 2020.]
In recent years, a phenomenon has arise in which a large number of scholars get together to denounce one of their colleagues via an open letter or online petition. All cases of which I am aware are listed below. To qualify for inclusion, the letter or petition must: target an individual academic or a small group of scholars; criticise the academic work or sociopolitical views of the target; and be signed by at least five academics.
- Thomas Schelling & Robert Aumann — denounced for, respectively, encouraging the “coercive use of military force” and using “his analysis to justify the Israeli Occupation and the oppression of the Palestinians” in a petition signed by 1,000 academics and intellectuals.
- Andrea Smith — criticised for presenting “herself as generically indigenous, and allowing others to represent her as Cherokee” in an open letter signed by 12 academics.
- Rachel Fulton Brown — denounced in an open letter signed by more than 1,300 academics, which referred to her “ignorance of basic theoretical principles of race theory”.
- Nigel Biggar — criticised in two open letters, including one signed by nearly 200 academics, which described him as a “long-term apologist for colonialism”.
- Jordan Peterson — denounced for proposing a project that would “specifically target the academic integrity of and student enrolment in Women and Gender Studies” in an open letter signed by hundreds of academics and students. [Update: this open letter may have been signed exclusively by students.]
- Bruce Gilley — was the subject of two petitions calling for the retraction of his article ‘The Case for Colonialism’, including one signed by more than 7,000 people which claimed that “sentiments expressed” in the article “reek of colonial disdain”.
- Rebecca Tuvel — denounced for writing an article that showed “little concern for the voices of those most impacted by “theoretical” debates on the subject of racial and trans identity” in an open letter signed by more than 800 academics.
- Amy Wax — denounced in several petitions and open letters, including one signed by 33 of her colleagues which told students, “If your experience at Penn Law falls substantially short of this ideal”, then “we want to know about it”.
- Alessandro Strumia — denounced for making “morally reprehensible arguments” and for having a “deep contempt for more than half of humanity” in an open letter signed by more than 4,000 academics and students.
- Linda Gottfredson — was the subject of four letters calling for the cancellation of her keynote speech, one of which referred to a “disturbing turn that her work has taken […] towards very questionable work on race and intelligence testing”.
- Noah Carl — denounced in an open letter signed by more than 500 academics, which expressed concern that “racist pseudoscience is being legitimised through association with the University of Cambridge”.
- Ricardo Duchesne — denounced in an open letter signed by more than 100 of his colleagues, which described his “views about multiculturalism and immigration as racist and without academic merit”.
- Jonathan Anomaly — criticised in an open letter signed by 200 people from the ‘Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association’ for writing an academic article titled ‘Defending Eugenics’.
- Peter Boghossian — denounced in an open letter signed by 12 of his colleagues, which referred to “academic dishonesty” as well as “chronic and pathological, unscholarly behaviour”.
- David Reich — criticised in an open letter signed by 67 academics, which claimed that his “understanding of “race” […] is seriously flawed”.
- Matthew Goodwin, Eric Kaufmann, Claire Fox, David Aaronovitch & Trevor Phillips — denounced for taking part in a debate that “was framed within the terms of white supremacist discourse” in an open letter signed by more than 200 academics.
- Michele Moore — denounced for reproducing “dangerous transphobic tropes” and for engaging in “public trans-exclusionary activism” in an open letter signed by more than 800 people.
- Sharné Nieuwoudt, Kasha Dickie, Carla Coetsee, Louise Engelbrecht & Elmarie Terblanche — denounced for writing an article with “racist ideological underpinnings” in a petition signed by more than 10,000 people.
- Martin Medhurst — denounced for writing an editorial that “reifies some of the worst tendencies of whiteness” in an open letter signed by more than 1,300 academics and students.
- Abigail Thompson — criticised for expressing her “personal opinion against the mandated use of faculty diversity statements for hiring decisions” in an open letter signed by more than 500 academics.
- Stephen Gliske — denounced for writing a paper with the clear intent “to do harm to the transgender community” in a petition signed by more than 800 people.
- Nathan Cofnas — criticised for writing a paper that “disingenuously argues that the best explanation of differences in IQ scores between racial and ethnic groups is genetics” in a petition signed by 121 people.
- Selina Todd — denounced for “her arguments against trans people’s––particularly trans-women’s––right to self-identify” in an open letter signed by 117 academics and students.
- Govind Persad — denounced for writing a paper that “weaponizes disability law to support a harmful argument rooted in ableism and eugenics” in an open letter signed by an unknown number of academics and students. [Update: this open letter may have been signed exclusively by students.]
- Ole Wæver & Barry Buzan — denounced for carrying out an “orchestrated assault against two anti-racist feminist scholars” in an open letter signed by dozens of academics and students.
- Harald Uhlig — denounced for “trivializing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and drawing parallels between the BLM movement and the Ku Klux Klan” in a petition signed by more than 500 academics and students.
- Stephen Hsu — denounced for using “racist and sexist language couched in scientific terms” and for asserting that “systemic racism does not explain differences in accomplishments among Black students” in an open letter signed by more than 300 academics and students.
- Stuart Hurlbert — denounced for “actively attempting to distance our biology department, ecology students, and scientific organizations […] from the anti-racism movement now sweeping the globe” in a petition signed by over 100 academics and students.
- Steven Pinker — criticised for “speaking over genuine grievances and downplaying injustices […] at the exact moments when Black and Brown people are mobilizing against systemic racism” in an open letter signed by over 600 academics and students.
- Lawrence Mead—was the subject of two petitions calling for the retraction of his article ‘Poverty and Culture’, including one signed by more than 3,000 people which claimed that the article expressed “racially violent narratives directed at the Black and Latina/o/X community”.