More than 100 faculty members at Dartmouth College have signed a letter to Philip J. Hanlon, its president, asking him to retract a statement that disavows comments by Mark Bray, a lecturer. Since this month’s deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Bray has conducted a series of interviews with national news outlets about antifa, an abbreviation of the term “anti-fascist” that refers to radical far-left groups.
Antifa groups have engaged in protests of far-right speakers and demonstrations that often turn violent. This month Mr. Bray published a book about antifa groups and their history stretching back to the 1920s. The book, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, reads in part as a guide for activists who are interested in antifa groups’ ideas and tactics.
In a statement that was posted on Dartmouth’s website on August 21, Mr. Hanlon said that Mr. Bray’s statements “supporting violent protest” don’t represent the views of the New Hampshire college. “As an institution, we condemn anything but civil discourse in the exchange of opinions and ideas,” the statement says.
In their response, the Dartmouth faculty members wrote that they have “watched with gratitude as our junior colleague Mark Bray, on the strength of his historical scholarship, has become the national expert on a subject that is suddenly, terribly urgent: the 20th-century history of fascism and anti-fascism, in Europe and, more recently, the United States.”
The faculty members wrote that Mr. Bray has not called for violent protest, but argues that fascism has not been stopped by public debate or democratic politics. Antifa groups believe that fascists should be denied a platform to speak, a tactic that has sometimes succeeded in stopping fascist groups from growing, according to Mr. Bray. He said he had recently received death threats via email and on Twitter.
In their letter, the faculty members urge Mr. Hanlon to apologize to Mr. Bray and to begin “a review of peer-institution norms and recommended procedures on how to react when such a situation arises again — as it most certainly will.”
The names of the faculty members were not on the letter that was shared with The Chronicle, but Bethany Moreton, a history professor, said that faculty members across departments and ranks had signed it, while several senior faculty members have sent the president their own letters.
“It shows,” Mr. Bray said, “that there are a lot of faculty who support my academic freedom and are upset with the president issuing his statement without, at the very least, checking in with me and my department to clarify my comments.” He said that he had not been contacted by Mr. Hanlon.
In response to a request for comment, Diana Lawrence, associate vice president for communications, referred to the president’s August 21 statement.