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FIRE fights mandatory political litmus tests at Virginia Tech. Predictable: Far left professor accuses FIRE of racism.

Posted by iusbvision on April 10, 2009

STOP RIGHT THERE – Before you read this post you need to go to THIS LINK HERE and read the original story in order to understand the context of this story and to understand Virginia’s Tech’s illegal and very foolish assault on academic freedom; not to mention a policy that amounts to a grossly unfair hiring and promotion process.

As editor, after we published the article I wondered how long it would be before a professor who has been completely indoctrinated with the politics of class and race warfare, instead of making an honest argument about the substance of the policy and law, would pull the far left old standby of “making it about you” and just attack FIRE’s intentions and try to label them with a thinly veiled “racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe” canard. To no ones surprise it didn’t take long. 

Enter Professor Ellington Graves whose letter to Collegiate Times not only misrepresents Virginia Tech’s illegal policy, not only displays the all too typical elitist group think that is epidemic among far left college faculty, but also abandons ethical logic and uses reasoning that is straight from a Saul Alinsky inspired class and race agitation playbook.


Part of the mistake you made was not getting the facts about the nature of the tenure and promotion process; it is a poorly understood process outside of faculty ranks.

Ah yes, no one could possibly understand a policy that is crystal clear to anyone who is academically and legally literate besides you, the professor whose group has been blessed with a special wisdom that transcends the skills of mere mortals who lack the PhD cloak of infallibility.

The other part of your error was to lean too heavily upon a poorly reasoned analysis of the policy, which I can only assume came from a reading of the letter to President Steger from FIRE.

Poorly reasoned you say, which is why you completly ignored the Supreme Court’s reasoning provided to you by FIRE which was inspired by the finest First Amendment scholars. When faced with an argument that you aren’t intellectually capable of tackling, it is so much easier to declare yourself  “reasoned” and pretend that your opponent’s best arguments never existed and were never presented to you isn’t it?

I hope that you and the rest of the editorial staff recognize that this issue has been misrepresented by those who are committed not to insuring that academic freedom is protected, but rather to stamping out any effort to give value to the efforts of those who choose to act upon their convictions with regard to building greater inclusiveness as it relates to race, gender, sexuality and even socioeconomic status.

And here we have the very thinly veiled accusation of racism. Attack the messenger and not the substance; smear the messenger and ignore the finest legal reasoning. Funny, when I asked FIRE for help here at IUSB, they didn’t ask me what color I was, how much money I have, who I like to have relations with, or who I voted for in the last election.

Ellington T. Graves is the Assistant Director of the The Center for Africana Studies and Race and Social Policy Research.

Of course you are, an easy way to  justify your subsidy from the taxpayer is to find racism under every stone, and to do that you have to falsely create hostility and racial agitation like a political opportunist. Prof. Graves, it is easy to invent false charges of racism and launch an intellectually shallow crusade against it, but fighting real racism is hard. Anti-semitism and anti-Israelism is a growing and serious problem among leftist academia. If you would like to accomplish something genuinely impressive may I suggest taking on some of your peers?


FIRE answered Prof. Graves’ crass accusations. FIRE’s response was generously kind and restrained (excerpt):

Readers should examine the policy documents and FIRE’s analysis for themselves at In particular, they should read Provost McNamee’s May 29, 2008, memo to all department heads and to promotion and tenure committees, in which he demands, “Candidates must do a better job of participating in and documenting their involvement in diversity initiatives. Diversity accomplishments are especially important for candidates seeking promotion to full professor.”

Graves publicly and falsely accuses us of being motivated not by a desire to protect faculty rights, but instead by a desire to “stamp out” efforts at “building greater inclusiveness” on Tech’s campus. But if Graves knows of any public university that imposes similar requirements in the name of patriotism, Christianity, or any other matter of individual choice and conscience, he should let us know so that FIRE may fight them with equal vigor.

In addition, Graves presumes that the editorial board’s March 24 editorial somehow relied on FIRE’s March 25 letter. In truth, the board and FIRE independently reached very similar conclusions conclusions that are shared by the National Association of Scholars, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and many others. Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors also has agreed to comprehensive[ly] review Virginia Tech’s tenure and diversity policies.

The “litmus tests” employed by FIRE do not involve political ideology, as Virginia Tech’s requirement [does], but the First Amendment, which protects Graves’ right to criticize us. Graves may be unaware that FIRE has also defended the rights of students and faculty members with an extremely wide variety of views. Another of our biggest cases this month involves the right of adult Maryland students to watch a “XXX” film on campus.

“Diversity,” whatever it means, is something that Graves and Virginia Tech are free to value and recognize – but not to the point of imposing such a value against the academic freedom and freedom of conscience of the faculty.

Adam Kissel

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