Bring a gun to a knife fight: Today’s blacklist story follows up on the case of professor Timothy Jackson, who was dismissed in 2021 by the University of North Texas (UNT) as the editor of a history of music journal he had founded because he and his student editors had organized an issue dedicated to disproving the anti-white and racist accusations of a different professor against a well known musical figure.
From his lawyer’s most recent press release:
The Journal of Schenkerian Studies is dedicated to a late 19th/early 20th-century Austrian-Jewish music theorist, Heinrich Schenker, and his systematic, graphic methods of music analysis. In July 2020, Timothy Jackson defended Schenker in the pages of the Journal from an attack by Hunter College Professor Philip Ewell. Professor Ewell labeled Schenker a “racist” and, indeed, the entire tradition of Western classical music as “systemically racist.” This dispute would have remained a typical academic tempest in a teapot, but the University of North Texas swiftly condemned Jackson’s defense of Schenker and classical music. At UNT, defending classical music and its theory against charges of “racism” is a “thought crime.”
Graduate students quickly condemned Professor Jackson for “racist actions” and various other derelictions that they claimed hurt their feelings. Calls for Professor Jackson to be fired quickly escalated, and the vast majority of Jackson’s fellow faculty members jumped on the bandwagon. Sixteen of them signed a graduate student petition calling for his ouster and for censorship of the Journal. Discovery revealed that at least one did so without even reading or understanding what the petition said.
Officials at the university subsequently removed Jackson as editor of the journal, apparently because he had freely expressed his first amendment rights to dissent publicly from Ewell’s false accusations against Schenker. As I noted in 2021,
One important detail about the Heinrich Schenker whom Ewell calls a “virulent racist.” He was also a Jew who was a victim of German anti-Semitism and lost many relatives in the Holocaust, facts that Ewell somehow did not think important to mention.
Jackson and his attorneys sued the indivduals at UNT who took this action, as well as the members of the university’s Board of Regents who had power to intercede and did nothing, and for the past two years have been steadily winning in the courts. Most recently on September 15, 2023 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal by UNT that attempted to get Jackson’s suit dismissed, claiming the suit against the Board of Regents was invalid because they had no say in the matter.
The court unequivocally ruled that they did have a say in the matter, especially since Jackson had written them very early in the game, asking them to take action to stop UNT’s blacklisting and the violation of his first amendment rights. Thus, the Board members are now personally liable as this suit goes forward.
In a larger context, this story is only one of many incidents of censorship and blacklisting at the University of North Texas, two of which I have previously reported:
In the first story, the fired professor had written a joke making fun of the idea of “microaggressions,” and soon won his case in court, forcing UNT to pay him a $165K settlement. In the second story the university president released a mealy-mouthed comment which essentially said, “I hate censorship but consider this censorship okay.”
The students after attending UNT
Nor are these stories the only examples of tyranny at UNT. The College Fix’s cancel culture database lists the three stories above, but also four more. In every case, the faculty and students at the university took aggressive action to silence speech they did not agree with. Rather than debate, they attempted censorship (here), blacklisting (here), and even violence in two cases (here and here).
UNT is apparently a Stalinist institution, focused not on teaching critical thinking but on churning out social justice warriors, indoctrinated with racist Marxist teachings and prepared to commit violence to enforce them.
UNT however is also a public university that gets significant state funding. It seems to me that it is long past time for the Texas legislature to reconsider that funding. Why should any Republican-controlled statehouse not only tolerate such storm trooper behavior, but actually fund it?