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How Low Did Princeton Go?

Classics professor Joshua T. Katz is being persecuted by Princeton University, his employer (Source)

On August 31, I wrote about the propaganda Princeton University is putting out to slander and demean Joshua Katz, a tenured Classics professor who publicly dissented from the racialist ideology the university’s leadership has adopted. They seem to be trying to drive Katz out of the university. In the propaganda I cited, the university holds up Katz to incoming freshmen as an example of a racist on campus.

Well, here’s an update. A writer named Greg Piper examined the case, and caught something that had eluded critics:

Princeton’s virtual gallery, “To Be Known and Heard,” was commissioned by the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding and campus engagement office and designed by an advisory committee of faculty, administrators and students.

The “Race and Free Speech” section explores Princeton’s history of grappling with “what crosses the ‘line’ between free speech and freedom of expression, and racist statements and actions.” But it surreptitiously edited the quote that got Katz in trouble.

He had written: “The Black Justice League, which was active on campus from 2014 until 2016, was a small local terrorist organization that made life miserable for the many (including the many black students) who did not agree with its members’ demands.” Only the parenthetical is missing from Princeton’s rendering.

The section includes quotes from black professors denouncing Katz for “race-baiting, disguised as free speech” and seemingly not regarding them as “essential features” of Princeton.

But it left out the classics department’s removal of its statement condemning Katz and Eisgruber walking back the threat to investigate him, leading Katz to crow about surviving “cancellation” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

That’s right: the Princeton institutional propagandists deliberately doctored a quote to make Katz look even worse. And it kept out other information that would have complicated the charge.

This wasn’t a student activist groups doing this. This involved offices of Princeton University that set out to damage the reputation of a sitting professor, even if they had to doctor a quote to do it. I hope Prof. Katz hires the best lawyer in the business. I think money is the only thing these wealthy fanatics of the Ivy League understand.

By the way, Katz published recently an account in First Things of his conversion to Christianity. It’s a moving essay. Excerpts:

One need not believe in a higher power in order to know that the capacity for wrongdoing exists in each of us, whether or not one wishes to specify certain kinds of wrong with the strong term “sin.” And one need not believe in a higher power in order to know that a world without redemption is a sorry place. Yet here we are. The elite view in the United States is that old-time religion, with its belief in sin and redemption, is very, very bad—whereas an intersectional pile of very, very new orthodoxies must be endorsed and re-endorsed.

These new orthodoxies appear to hold that we should “ban the box” for some, while others we should destroy without mercy. “Redemption” is therefore absurd, or a dirty word: There are those who don’t need it, and those who don’t deserve it. This view is odd, to say the least. And it is shortsighted. For the hour will inexorably come when those who destroy others will become targets themselves, perhaps for an actual sin, perhaps for a manufactured one. When this happens, the destroyers are likely to experience a secular come-to-Jesus moment and suddenly find the possibility of redemption attractive. People of bad faith will wish to be viewed as people of good faith.

We tend not to think of “faith,” a word English has borrowed from Latin fides via French, as having much in common with “good faith”: Bona fides is a term more common in law and commerce than in church, and there are many people of good faith who are not also people of faith. (Vice versa, too—though perhaps a person of faith who is not a person of good faith should not in fact be called a person of faith?) I am not a proselytizer: I have no wish to persuade men and women of good faith to embrace faith. Still, I have a story to tell. It is a banal story, a ­cliché, as old as the hills. But old stories persist because they are retold.

Katz, who explains that he was not raised with religion, talks about the horrifying treatment he has been put through by the mob at Princeton, including the student newspaper’s bringing up a consensual romance he had many years ago with a student he was teaching. [I incorrectly reported in an earlier version that it wasn’t against Princeton’s rules at the time. In fact, it was. I misread the First Things piece — RD]. But this excruciating trial in which he endures having his name dragged through the mud by his ideological enemies, has been a blessing in one way to the relatively new convert:

The hideousness shows no signs of abating, though thanks to the Academic Freedom Alliance and many individuals around the world who have reached out to me, I have this year gained more, and better, friends than I lost. Perhaps someday I will have more to say about this. For now: Though my faith in academia, which had been waning for years, is now largely gone, my faith in the power of God’s mysterious ways is ascendant.

Because religion is still new to me, and because I grew up with the New York Times, which in the guise of news now ­instructs those aptly dubbed by John McWhorter “The Elect” to despise religion, I find it ­remarkable—though I shouldn’t—that many of the people who have worked so hard to keep me going are religious. Not all, to be sure. One is aggressive about his ­atheism, which is just fine with me. But it is undeniable that I owe my sanity largely to a couple dozen churchgoing Christians and synagogue-attending Jews: people who understand sin, redemption, and faith, both in theory and in ­practice.

Read it all. 

I’m sure that his new faith is helping Katz cope, especially the part about not hating one’s persecutors. If he’s able to forgive them, he’s a much better Christian than I am. I’ll just say that after what Princeton has done to Joshua Katz, it had better have a Come-to-Jesus moment with its lawyers.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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