By Robert Mann
Mitch Daniels says he respects academic freedom. Of course, the former Republican Indiana governor had to say that when he applied for his new job, president of Purdue University.
But the Associated Press has exposed him as a phony, at best, and a liar, at worst.
According to a story in the Indianapolis Star:
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pledged to promote academic freedom when he became president of Purdue University in January, but newly released emails show he attempted to eliminate what he considered liberal “propaganda” at Indiana’s public universities while governor.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show Daniels requested that historian and anti-war activist Howard Zinn’s writings be banned from classrooms and asked for a “cleanup” of college courses. In another exchange, the Republican talks about cutting funding for a program run by a local university professor who was one of his sharpest critics.
The success of those efforts remains unclear; Zinn’s book, for example, is still used in some courses for aspiring teachers. But Daniels did launch an expansive push while governor to change what courses those hopeful teachers could take for credit at Indiana colleges. That effort is ongoing.
You can read the emails at this link.
The whole episode is deplorable and is a good reminder of the risks of criticizing those in power.
But what I find most appalling about this story is not that a politician got angry at college professors who hold a different views of politics. Politicians are very good at punishing dissidents and political opponents. That’s as old as politics itself.
What was stunning was this passage, as reported by Inside Higher Education:
Shortly after Zinn died in 2010, Daniels e-mailed various education officials about Zinn, the AP said. His e-mail said: “This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away.”
Get that? Upon hearing of Zinn’s death, Daniels’ reaction was “finally.”
He sounds like a nice man.
- AP Exclusive: Daniels looked to censor opponents (sfgate.com)
- Mitch Daniels Sought To Censor Public Universities, Professors (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mitch Daniels: Targeted For Attacking Leftist Classroom Propaganda (thecollegefix.com)
- AP Exclusive: Daniels Looked to Censor Opponents (abcnews.go.com)