David Wippman

Growing efforts to curtail free speech and academic freedom endanger the ability to cultivate the informed citizenry on which our democracy depends, write President David Wippman and Cornell Professor Glenn Altschuler in an Inside Higher Ed essay. Published on Aug. 10, “Attacked on Both Sides” highlights the current legislative assault on “divisive concepts” such as critical race theory as an important reminder that any erosion of free inquiry and expression poses grave risks.

“Free speech and academic freedom in American education are once again under attack, from both the right and the left,” the authors write. “The tactics differ, with the right relying more on state power — legislation and executive orders — and the left on social norms and peer pressure. At the moment, the principal threats come from the right, often and ironically under the banner of protecting free speech and viewpoint diversity…

“Politicians should not tell educators how to teach or politicize curricular decisions. Teachers at all levels should be free to examine in age-appropriate ways and from a variety of perspectives how racism has shaped American history and society. Attempts to insist on a particular version of history or preclude discussion of controversial topics will hinder educators' ability to teach students to think critically and to present a fair and accurate account of subjects essential to students’ understanding of society and their place in it.”

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