Article on Evergreen State Misrepresented Professor’s Positions

To The Editor:

Your article on the recent protests at Evergreen State College (“How a Campus Fight Drove 2 Left-Leaning Professors to Fox News,The Chronicle, June 9) quotes me in a way that attributes to me positions I do not hold. The article does so by framing the entire matter in a simple but mistaken “for Bret/against Bret” binary (referring to Bret Weinstein). Here is the key paragraph:

Many people blame Mr. Weinstein for the fallout. Peter Dorman, an economics professor, told The Chronicle that he doesn’t understand why his colleague would reach out to “people who don’t wish us well and don’t want to see us succeed in any event.” Fifty-eight professors, about a quarter of the faculty, signed a letter asking the college to investigate Mr. Weinstein, saying that his actions had made them, along with students and staff member, “targets of white-supremacist backlash.”

There are three false implications. First, it implies that I believe there would have been no fallout if Bret Weinstein hadn’t turned to conservative media, which is not true. I think there would have been less and fitted to a different narrative, but fallout? For sure.

Second, it misquotes me as expressing my personal point of view, whereas what I actually referred to in my interview was a position I attributed to the great majority of my colleagues on all sides of this dispute, a position I also share. That’s important because it’s entirely possible to think Bret did something he shouldn’t have while taking a variety of stances on other aspects of the situation.

Third, my quote is immediately followed by a reference to the faculty who have signed a letter calling for, among other things, a disciplinary investigation of Weinstein (and no one else). This certainly conveys the impression I’m a signer of this letter or at least in agreement with the signers, but this is not true. (Some of the signers are people I hold in high respect, but I disagree with them on this.)

Thus the paragraph proceeds through a chain of implications whose underlying logic is that there are two paths, demonization or full-throated support of Weinstein. In actuality there are many paths, and the politics of events at Evergreen don’t revolve around the role of this one person.

Peter Dorman
Faculty in Economics
Evergreen State College
Olympia, Wash.

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