Some Thoughts on Academic Freedom


September 11, 2001 was a defining day of my life. My office was on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan, a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center. To get home that day, I had to walk through the dust & rubble of downtown. I remember it vividly. That day New Yorkers in every neighborhood came down in to the streets and gave hugs, water and food to people like us as we walked uptown. That was a day when all of New York City became one.

During my business travel in the next few months, as a New Yorker I received warmth from people wherever I went. People told me that they felt for us New Yorkers and that they were with us. This was a rare and unique feeling. Usually New Yorkers, especially Yankee fans like us, are not used to being treated well in the rest of America. 9/11 brought America together and it felt great.

We heard a lot of discussions on Television in the weeks after 9/11. The overriding theme was that Freedom of Expression was a right but not a license. People could speak against America’s reaction to 9/11 but they had to remember that free speech could have consequences. In other words, the concept of academic freedom protected the speech but not the consequences of such speech. 

After some time, the intensity of the 9/11 outrage dimmed. Some “scholar” Professors began articulating theories about 9/11 that seemed preposterous and deeply vile to us. We even heard “analysis” that concluded that 9/11 was a work of the CIA and of the Israeli Mossad. This was being done by American “scholar” professors in American Universities under the guise of Academic Freedom.     

We were disgusted by the behavior of such professors. But fortunately we did not have to write our opinions at that time. People with bigger megaphones and greater resources began campaigns to censure these “scholar” professors, people like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough among others. The campaigns succeeded in most cases and the American people did get justice from the Universities that employed these professors. 

As we see the work of today’s “scholar” professors against Indian Culture & Religion, we wonder, as we did in May 2009, Where are the Indian Bill O’Reilly,Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough?

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