They’re coming for you next: Timothy Jackson, a professor at the University of North Texas, was removed from the music journal he founded because he dared criticize in print the racial and anti-white politics of another academic.
In November 2019, music theorist Philip Ewell delivered a plenary address to the Society of Music Theory positing “a white racial frame in music theory that is structural and institutionalized.” Ewell took particular aim at 19th century music theorist Heinrich Schenker, whose influence on music theory is “hard to overstate,” arguing that Schenker was a “virulent racist” and that Schenker’s “racist views infected his music theoretical arguments.”
Timothy Jackson has devoted his career to the study of Heinrich Schenker. He is the director of the Center for Schenkerian Studies at UNT and a co-founder of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, an academic journal published at UNT. Ewell’s widely-heard address related so directly to Schenker’s work that Jackson and the editorial staff of the journal decided to publish a symposium issue featuring a number of responses, both pro and con, to Ewell’s address. The journal issued a call for papers to all members of the Society of Music Theory, including Philip Ewell, who did not respond. Timothy Jackson himself published a response in the symposium that was highly critical of Ewell’s analysis.
The symposium issue was published in July 2020, and the calls for Jackson’s punishment began immediately. Rather than defend academic freedom against this obvious attempt to suppress unpopular opinions, UNT launched an investigation, creating an “ad hoc” panel to look into the process that allowed the symposium issue of the journal to be published. On November 30, 2020, this ad hoc panel published a report criticizing the journal’s structure and the editorial and review process used for the symposium.
In response to the ad hoc panel’s report, department chair Benjamin Brand “informed Professor Jackson that he would be removed from the Journal and that the university would eliminate resources previously provided to the Journal and Center for Schenkerian Studies,”
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.
This what academia has been like now for nigh on two decades. Only one political perspective is allowed, which for decades was merely liberal and Democrat. More recently this has transitioned into outright bigotry against whites. If you happen to be one of the continually shrinking tiny minority that disagrees publicly you will find yourself quickly squashed like a bug, as the University of North Texas is now attempting to do to Jackson.
Jackson however is not willing to get squashed without a fight. He has filed a defamation lawsuit (available here [pdf]) in response, noting that he was punished merely because he exercised his First Amendment rights of free speech. Jackson’s lawsuit not only names the University of North Texas, it also names many of the individuals who attacked him and participated in the witchhunt against him.
I hope he wins, and wins big, causing real pain to every single one of the bigots and tyrants who have tried to silence him, merely because he disagrees with them.
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