Cornell law professor under fire for criticizing BLM calls out “silence is violence” motto as being totalitarian
06/22/2020 // Cassie B. // Views

Cornell Law School Professor William A. Jacobson has condemned insinuations he is racist simply because he criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

The professor, who is considered a top expert on securities arbitration and investment protection, said that liberals are carrying out a “coordinated effort” against him after he wrote a blog post that was critical of the movement. The conservative professor is the voice behind the influential website Legal Insurrection, where he wrote about his “awkward relationship” with the liberal atmosphere in academia.

Although he said he has always gone out of his way to keep his work at Cornell separate from Legal Insurrection, the two careers collided in dramatic fashion when he dared to mention the tactics and history of the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s when the calls began from alumni and fellow professors to have him formally denounced or fired from his job. The effort, he says, is coordinated as some of the emails appear to be written with templates.

The school announced that it would not be disciplining Jacobson for speaking freely, but now he is facing student boycotts of his classes, with one student organization encouraging peers to avoid taking his classes in a letter posted to the law school community’s Facebook page.

The group added that their executive board would not be participating in a Securities Law clinic supervised by the professor and asked students to “reconsider studying under an individual whose views perpetuate hatred towards their fellow students."


A letter was published in the Cornell Sun on June 9 that was cosigned by 21 of Jacobson's colleagues. Although they didn’t name him directly, they called out “commentators... attached to Ivy League Institutions” for being “defenders of institutionalized racism and violence.” He feels it’s pretty clear they were talking about him.

"Silence is violence" is totalitarian

Jacobson stands behind his posts, saying they “accurately detail” the movement’s history and “the agenda of the founders which is playing out in the cultural purge and rioting taking place now.” He feels that the efforts to discredit him aren’t just about his own views and curriculum; they are also an attempt to intimidate students into silence when it comes to divisive issues.

He said: "This is an attempt not just to scare students away from my course, but to scare students away from speaking their minds, and to create a faculty and student purity test. This isn’t activism, it’s anti-intellectualism. I don’t think it will work, and there will be a backlash."

Speaking to host Joel Pollak on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday, he said his inbox has been flooded with emails sent by people saying they were scared of speaking out at work.

He said this is different from political correctness as the motto of “silence is violence” is being embraced. This means that it is no longer enough to just keep your head down and stay out of trouble. People aren’t just being criticized for speaking out, he said – they’re being criticized for keeping quiet, and it's totalitarian.

He told Pollak: “The people who founded [Black Lives Matter] are basically Marxists and extreme radical leftists whose goal is to tear down our society.” That’s not just hyperbole; Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors has admitted in past interviews that she and co-founder Alicia Garza are “trained Marxists.”

Jacobson believes that what we need right now is open inquiry and debate rather than publicly shaming people who are not on board. He issued an open invitation to the professors and students who are petitioning against him to participate in a public debate to address their positions, but so far no one has taken him up on his offer.

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