My re-appearance on The Daily Signal Podcast looking back and forward at the ‘cancel culture’ directed at me: “right now it’s a little bit quiet, but I think it’s probably a little bit of calm before the next storm.”
I was invited back to The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal Podcast, hosted by Virginia Allen, to revisit the ‘cancel culture’ events at Cornell Law School directed at me starting last June, 2020.
I first appeared on The Daily Signal Podcast on July 1, 2020, when events were fresh and in progress, so this was a chance to bring events forward, to assess where things stand, and to look to what the future may hold.
You can listen to the audio (also below) and read the transcription at The Daily Signal, Law Professor Speaks Out After Being Shamed for Writing Honest History of BLM.
The interview is almost 30 minutes. You’ll either find the interview riveting and spellbinding, or you’ll view it as 30 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.
My portion starts at the 7:40 mark (scroll below to listen on this page or click here to jump ahead in a new window]:
Partial transcript (full transcript at The Daily Signal):
Allen: Well, obviously, it’s so encouraging that you do still have a job that students, even though they were being pressured by these 15 student groups to boycott your class, your classes were full. Students wanted to get your perspective to hear what you had to say in your classes.
But obviously, that kind of situation, it takes a toll on anyone when you are put in this position of being attacked from all sides. And like you say, there’s individuals who you thought were your friends who are not even coming to you to ask for your perspective, but are running straight to the paper.
How do you feel like this whole situation impacted you personally?
Jacobson: Well, I don’t want to downplay the stress. It was extremely stressful because I didn’t know how it would play out when it first started. And I’d seen these other professors who even if they didn’t get fired, were really turned into pariahs on their campuses, couldn’t walk alone because students would harass them, had protesters outside their houses.
There was somebody at University of Central Florida where they actually showed up at his house to protest. So I didn’t really know, but I will tell you, it was extraordinarily stressful for a while. …
I think it would have turned out differently if I didn’t have job protection….
I think that my situation is, I don’t technically have tenure because clinical faculty at Cornell University, regardless of which school they’re in, cannot have tenure. So at the law school, I have something that the American Bar Association requires, which is called “job security reasonably equivalent of tenure.”
And what that means is, presumptively renewable, five-year contracts. That’s the equivalent of tenure, where your contract rolls over for another five years unless they have good cause to not renew it.
Mine is up in a year and a half and I am fully expecting that fight and that battle because I think a lot of the faculty members who signed this malicious statement against me are going to try to sabotage me. So it’s not over by any means. But right now it’s a little bit quiet, but I think it’s probably a little bit of calm before the next storm.
Allen: Did any of your colleagues or the dean or even any of the students that had spoken out against you, written those emails, did any of them come to you and say, “Hey, maybe I still agree with what I wrote, but I should have at least talked with you first”? Or was there any sort of attempt to reach out and say, “All right. We do kind of see your side and maybe we should have handled it a little bit differently”?
Jacobson: Not a one. Not a single person.
Jacobson: And the dean has caught a lot of flak. The National Association of Scholars wrote a scathing open letter, demanding that he retract the statement against me. As far as I know, he’s not responded to that.
The faculty who signed the letter were excoriated by professor Jonathan Turley in a column at his website over the summer, which got many, many thousands of shares. It went semi-viral in which he completely excoriated them for damaging, not just free speech in a technical First Amendment sense, but the ethos of free exchange of ideas that’s supposed to take place in higher education….
Of course, I’ve been completely vindicated substantively on the Black Lives Matter movement since then….
* * *
Allen: Great. So, why stay? Why do you feel that you want to continue to fight to be a professor and that conservative holdout at Cornell?
Jacobson: That’s a good question. I think the answer is rather simple: I want to leave on my terms when I want to leave. And I have no plans to leave right now. I had no plans to leave right now and I don’t see why I should be forced to change my life because they are so intolerant and they are so malicious.
Why should I have to do that? Why don’t they leave? If they don’t like having me in the building, they can leave if they don’t like it, but I’m not going to leave. I’m not going to leave voluntarily. And if they do try to interfere in the renewal of my contract in a year and a half, I will take them to court over it.
* * *
If you remember, there was something within Washington, D.C., where a woman was sitting at a table and there’s a very famous short video clip and photos of a group surrounding her, screaming at her while she’s sitting at the table at this restaurant, and pointing their fingers inches from her face. And that to me epitomizes what it’s like to go through this.
And the reason they were doing that is she refused to, essentially, pledge allegiance to the Black Lives Matter movement on the spot when she was sitting there at a restaurant.
When you have that, when you’re going through that, it’s really, in many ways, an out-of-body experience. And it is very hard to keep your head in those situations. Fortunately, I did.DONATE
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