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Challenging the attack on dissent

November 16, 2001 | Page 2

WE WON'T be silenced. That's the urgent message that hundreds of faculty members at campuses across the U.S. are sending after attacks on free speech by supporters of George W. Bush's war.

Administrators at several schools have openly denounced faculty and students who participated in antiwar events or criticized U.S. foreign policy. And on November 11, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni–a group founded by Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)–released a rabid assault on antiwar faculty.

Citing 117 examples of "perverse moral relativism"–and naming the names of antiwar activists–the report stated, "College and university faculty have been the weak link in America's response to the attack. Their public messages were short on patriotism and long on self-flagellation."

But the assault on dissent is being challenged. As of the beginning of November, more than 2,000 faculty members and individuals had signed on to a statement defending academic freedom–and the list was growing longer every day.

"We call on all members of the academic community to speak out strongly in defense of academic freedom and civil liberties, not just as an abstract principle, but as a practical necessity," reads the statement. "At a moment such as this, we must make sure that all informed voices–especially those that are critical or dissenting–are heard."

Signers include prominent professors Edward Said, Dennis Brutus, Barbara Epstein, Frances Fox Piven and Howard Zinn–as well as hundreds of others who are standing up against the assault on our right to free speech.

To sign the academic freedom statement, send your name, academic position and affiliation, and contact information to [email protected] Nonacademic endorsers are welcome.

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