It was Professor Bret Weinstein’s decision to step outside of the progressive bubble and speak to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that earned him the anger of many of his colleagues. Michael Zimmerman, a former provost at Evergreen College, published a piece at HuffPost today making the case that this, more than anything else, is why faculty wanted him to resign or be investigated. Zimmerman included excerpts from emails sent after Weinstein’s appearance on Fox:
- Bret, both directly and through some of his associates, has chosen to take steps that can now be materially demonstrated to have invited threats of violence, wielded for political ends, against our students, our colleagues, and ourselves. As a result, many of us are terrified, which is clearly the intent of these threats. And in my own academic area of expertise, there is a very specific term for political violence, and for threats thereof, deployed to terrorize. This is serious. I call on Bret to apologize and to rectify the damage he has done, or to resign.
- I concur with the alarm expressed below that one of our faculty has turned to the most right-wing, inflammatory propaganda sources on TV today, Tucker Carlson’s national segment on FOX News, to virtually invite right-wing forces to attack and defund Evergreen, and denigrate the Day of Absence/Day of Presence as “Campus Craziness.” As a scholar who has studied the far-right for three decades, and as a community organizer who has seen them in action, I can confirm how dangerous such a white backlash can become…. This has gone too far…. Until Friday, I merely disagreed with Bret. Today, I no longer consider him to be a colleague interested in the well-being of our community….
- By appearing on Tucker Carlson’s Alt-Right TV program, you endangered our students…
- Our community has been put at risk, and the inevitable threats are already being made. I call on Bret to apologize or resign, and invite other faculty members to also ask him to do so.
Zimmerman then looks back at the Tucker Carlson interview. He notes that Weinstein was asked a total of five questions and points out that none of his answers were particularly inflammatory. What did happen though was a big uptick in the number of people outside the campus bubble who saw what was actually happening at Evergreen:
What Professor Weinstein did, purely and simply, was help the rest of the world see for themselves what was happening on the Evergreen campus. The unedited videos of students screaming at the president, of a faculty member cursing at her colleagues, provide a clear picture of the reality of the situation. Yes, more people became aware of what was happening on campus because Professor Weinstein dared to speak with Tucker Carlson. But if everyone was as proud of the students and their colleagues as they originally claimed they were, greater awareness wouldn’t be a problem – it would be a virtue.
This is the key point. Tucker Carlson himself said toward the end of the interview (see below), “Our viewers should look this up online because there are a lot of pieces to the story, it’s hard to convey on television.” Professor Weinstein didn’t embarrass the students, they embarrassed themselves. People left, right and center saw the videos and found the protester’s behavior unacceptable.
Zimmerman concludes the piece by noting that there were reasonable, rational people on the right who contacted Weinstein after his Fox News appearance to tell him that, while they disagreed with his politics, they appreciated his tone and his approach. Zimmerman writes, “Real connections with people were forged and those connections improved understanding.”
There’s a certain irony in the fact that a faculty heavily engaged in social criticism of all kinds was unable to criticize even the worst behavior when it took place among their own little corner of society. Instead, they attacked the one person who dared to step outside the campus bubble and say what was obvious to everyone else: Something was badly amiss at Evergreen College.