Silenced!: Academic Freedom, Scientific Inquiry, and the First Amendment under Siege in America

Silenced!: Academic Freedom, Scientific Inquiry, and the First Amendment under Siege in America

by Bruce E. Johansen, Matthew Rothschild, Matthew Rothschild
     
 

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This book is about people whose beliefs and affiliations have opposed powerful interests in the present-day United States. This eclectic group of people and controversial issues, from climate-change scientists who have been censored by the Bush administration to Muslims accused of terrorism, have one thing in common. All of them straddle the limits of what Noam

Overview

This book is about people whose beliefs and affiliations have opposed powerful interests in the present-day United States. This eclectic group of people and controversial issues, from climate-change scientists who have been censored by the Bush administration to Muslims accused of terrorism, have one thing in common. All of them straddle the limits of what Noam Chomsky has called permissible debate as defined by dominant political and economic institutions and individuals. The central thesis is that restriction of free inquiry is harmful to our culture because it inhibits the search for knowledge. Johansen presents case studies in the borderlands of free speech in a Jeffersonian cast—an intellectual framework assuming that open debate—even of unpopular ideas—is essential to accurate perception of reality.

This book is about people whose ideological circumstances have found them opposing established beliefs in our times—scholars advocating the Palestinian cause in a very hostile intellectual environment, for example, as well as climate scientists defending themselves against the de-funding of their laboratories by defenders of fossil-fuel interests; opponents of creation science under assault for teaching what once was regarded as household-variety biology (a.k.a. Darwinism); Marxists in a political system dominated by neoconservatives. The central thesis that unites this diverse array of controversies is that shutting down free inquiry—most notably for points of view deemed unpopular—dumbs us all down by restraining the search for knowledge, which demands open inquiry.

We have been told when going to war, as in Iraq, that freedom isn't free, the unstated assumption being that our armed forces are fighting and dying to safeguard our civil rights at home and abroad. During recent years, however, freedom to inquire and debate without retribution has been under assault in the United States. This assault has been carried out under a distinctly Orwellian cast, under Newspeak titles such as the Patriot Act, parts of which might as well be described more honestly as the Restriction of Freedom of Inquiry Act. The information gathered here will interest (and probably anger) anyone who is concerned with protecting robust, free inquiry in a nation that takes seriously its freedom to speak out, and to define truth through open debate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Although many of these events will be familiar to anyone who follows the news, the important contribution here is Johansen's comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the debates surrounding each, his integrity as a scholar, and his engaging (occasionally humorous) writing…Silenced is strongly recommended for all libraries that serve students, teachers, and the general public. It could even be used as a textbook in courses dealing with current events, censorship, or education. It is a mighty fine and timely book." - College & Research Libraries

"Johansen describes the cases of academics in the United States who have been silenced through firings, jailings, and deportations for challenging powerful interests through free speech, including historian Michael Bellesiles, who wrote about the role of guns in American society; Ward Churchill, whose unpopular views about the September 11th attacks led to efforts to oust him from the University of Colorado; David Graeber, the Yale anthropologist whose anarchist politics led to denial of tenure; and Sami al-Arian, the Palestinian-born Florida professor judicially hounded as a terrorist in spite of lack of evidence. Johansen also discusses how government restrictions on visas in the post-9-11 era have excluded academic voices from abroad." - Reference & Research Book News

". . . the author passionately depicts a world where educators and researchers are under siege. Focusing much of the book on specific incidents and the laws and policies that impede education and research, the author has compiled a contemporary portrait of the dark side of academic freedom in America." - Reference & User Services Quarterly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780275996864
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/28/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.56(d)

What People are saying about this

Roberto Maestas
"The Right Wing is willing to destroy lives and sacrifice the First Amendment in their desperate effort to acquire and hold onto power. But thanks to the hardwork, courage and clarity of Dr. Johansen, and millions more of us, they will not succeed. Long live the First Amendment and all of our constitutional rights!"
Joy Porter
"Bruce Johansen is the kind of free-thinking writer who inspires us all. In Silenced! he reminds us that informed views are often uncomfortable and that there are things of vital importance only academic voices are equipped to say. Uniquely in print, he peers under rocks and examines the wider context to what we get to hear and what we're encouraged to dismiss. This is a book of our time by a fascinating author - don't miss it."
Howard Zinn
"Bruce Johansen's book comes to us at exactly the right time, when a war atmosphere has led to attacks on independence of thought and rational scientific inquiry in the academy, exactly the place where those qualities should be cherished. His book should rouse us from complacency and provoke us to join the struggle for the defense of our constitutional rights."

Meet the Author

Bruce E. Johansen is Frederick W. Kayser Research Professor of Communication and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is the author of twenty-six books, including The Global Warming Combat Manual: Solutions for a Sustainable World (Praeger, 2008), Global Warming 101 (Greenwood, 2008), Global Warming in the 21st Century, 3 vol. (Praeger, 2006), The Dirty Dozen: Toxic Chemicals and the Earth's Future (Praeger, 2003), Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Issues (Greenwood, 2003), and The Global Warming Desk Reference (Greenwood, 2001). Johansen regularly contributes articles on environmental issues to such national periodicals as The Nation, The Progressive, the Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic Monthly.

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