The Persecution of Professor Anthony Esolen at Providence College.
Tony Esolen and I are in different fields, we have different intellectual styles, and different personalities. But we share something much more fundamental: a worldview. We share basic values, principles, moral and religious convictions. If Tony is intolerable, then I am intolerable. And yet…
Princeton University has more than merely “tolerated” me. With full knowledge of my views and commitments, Princeton hired me, granted me tenure, elevated me to the rank of Professor, installed me in one of the University’s most celebrated endowed chairs, and permitted me to found and direct an important academic program (the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions). I have been supported and treated with respect by my colleagues and the University leadership (I have served under four presidents) over the course of my thirty-one years on the faculty. I have taught my courses—all of which touch on sensitive and controversial social issues—in the ways I myself judge best with no interference or pressure of any kind… from anyone. I have enjoyed, as my Princeton colleagues enjoy, complete academic freedom. What’s more, Princeton has denied me no honor or recognition, recently even conferring on me the University’s highest teaching award. If the students, faculty, and administration of Princeton University can tolerate me—and more than merely tolerate me—why can Providence College not tolerate Tony Esolen? If Princeton University—a secular institution the vast majority of whose faculty and administrators and many of whose students are ideologically on the left—can welcome the contributions of someone whose convictions are in line with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church (even when those teachings fly in the face of left-liberal orthodoxies) why can’t Providence College—a Catholic institution—welcome the contributions of an exceptional Catholic scholar such as Anthony Esolen. Indeed, why is Providence not showering Professor Esolen, who is a scholar of exceptional attainments (certainly beyond anything I can claim for myself), with honors and expressing pride in his achievements? Why doesn’t everyone at Providence realize how lucky they are to have Tony Esolen as a colleague and teacher?
Robert George is Chairman at United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, McCormick Professor of Juriprudence at Princeton University, Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and author of Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism.
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