NEW YORK, NY, September 17, 2018 -- The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has circulated an open letter seeking support for Professor Rachel Fulton Brown, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago. The letter has received 1000 signatories in its first month including more than 300 university professors, and asks the University of Chicago and the Medieval Academy of America to defend Fulton Brown from a reputational attack launched by her opponents.
Fulton Brown is a highly regarded scholar best known for her books on medieval Christianity. She became a target for academic radicals when she expressed opposition to an effort to make it a moral imperative for scholars to interpret medieval history as essentially a chronicle of racist oppression. Her opponents have said little about Fulton Brown’s arguments, but instead have attacked her character, defaming her as a harasser, a racist, and a member of the "alt-right."
“NAS has a long reputation for supporting academic freedom, and this includes individual advocacy for professors that find themselves the target of slander,” said NAS President Peter Wood. “Professor Fulton Brown has shared her opinions and argued them publicly, and because of this now faces attacks on her name and reputation. The institutions of which Professor Fulton Brown is a member should step up, not to silence her foes, but to provide support against scholars who attempt to shame colleagues by ad hominem attacks.”
The National Association of Scholars frequently steps in to support academics besieged by reputational attacks, including Professors Bruce Gilley, Amy Wax, and John McAdams. NAS urges that public vindications of Professor Brown’s scholarly character be made by her department, division, and president at the University of Chicago and by the Medieval Academy of America.
Wood explained: “NAS respects the principle of university neutrality in scholarly disputes. Yet, the defamation of Professor Brown as a racist or white supremacist does not fall within the purview of a ‘scholarly dispute’. These institutions should vindicate the reputation of their members when they have been falsely accused of disgraceful and unprofessional conduct.”
NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.
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