"...every Confederate soldier, by the mores of his age and ours, deserved not a hallowed resting place at the end of his days but a reservation at the end of the gallows." He attributed the continuation of modern race problems "the Confederacy was not thoroughly destroyed, its leaders and soldiers executed and their lands given to the landless freed slaves..."
A Vanderbilt professor's public moral stance against the Confederacy has
caused him severe backlash.
"I have received death threats," said mathematics professor Jonathan
Farley. He declined to comment further.
In a Nov. 20 column he wrote in The Tennessean, Farley suggested "every
Confederate soldier, by the mores of his age and ours, deserved not a
hallowed resting place at the end of his days but a reservation at the end
of the gallows." He attributed the continuation of modern race problems
"the Confederacy was not thoroughly destroyed, its leaders and soldiers
executed and their lands given to the landless freed slaves."
Those words have left Nashville community members and campus leaders
"When Farley says that all of the Confederate soldiers should have been
executed, that is hate speech," said senior Samar Ali, president of the
Student Government Association. "It is not right to fight hate with hate -
that is racist and dangerous."
Ali said she thinks Farley's statements were counterproductive to the
University's diversity initiatives.
"Dr. Farley has every right to say what he wants," Ali said. "It just
depresses me that he feels that way.
"Whether your racist comment is against a major group or a minor group, it
is still a racist comment," she said.
Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Michael Schoenfeld said he encourages
faculty to be civil and respectful in exercising academic freedom.
"Some of (Farley's) comments are totally contrary to Vanderbilt's efforts
to create a civil and respectful academic community and are rightly
offensive to, and rejected by, most people," he said in a prepared
statement. "But the long-standing tenets of academic freedom, which
Vanderbilt supports with equal vigor, give our faculty members the right to
make public statements and the responsibility to defend them in the
marketplace of ideas."
The University doesn't establish policies or set limits on what faculty
members can say publicly on their own opinions, Schoenfeld said.
Senior Nia Toomer, president of the Black Student Alliance, said that
Farley has informed her of the numerous threats that he has received.
One such e-mail, forwarded to The Vanderbilt Hustler by Farley, whose
subject line reads "Communist Nigger," used derogatory language to lambaste
African Americans and cluminated in explicit wishes for Farley's death.
"I think it is an unnecessary attack on Dr. Farley," Toomer said. "I feel
that it is racism and ignorance."
Richard McCarty, dean of the College of Arts and Science, confirmed that he
and other high-ranking administrators in Kirkland Hall, has received
correspondence from those who disagree with Farley's comments.
"The university environment is at its best when it questions and challenges
its students," he said. "We want to arm students with the best critical
thinking skills that we can and leave it to them to make the decisions
about the issues of the day."
"I think it's horrible that Dr. Farley has received death threats," said
sophomore Andrew Bonderud, president of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor
Fraternity and a member of the Vanderbilt Student Communications board of
Bonderud sent an e-mail to an e-mail list for Vanderbilt student leaders
Wednesday calling into question the radical nature of the math professor's
But senior Brendan Ryan lauded Farley's outspoken column.
"Farley has every right to print his opinion in the paper," he said. "While
some statements that he makes have some unsettling implications, but at
least for those students, we can debate whether or not their ancestors
should have been treated that way."
Others - particularly within the University's community of minority
students - argue that Farley's arguments are well founded and just.
"The Confederacy stands for racism, discrimination and segregation, not
Southern pride," Toomer said. "I agree with everything he wrote."
Toomer said there are more important issues at play: Farley, she said,
attempted to address the intent of the Confederacy nearly a century and a
"The more important issue is the legacy of slavery and how it relates to
the Confederacy," she said. "Maybe some people need to take a History 170
course at Vanderbilt to learn that the war was about slavery."
Ryan agreed, saying that many may overlook the "horror of slavery."
But whether the problem is slavery and the Confederacy or modern society
and a dormitory name, some feel that the most important issue at hand is a
kink in the system of free speech.
"I think that anyone who is threatening (Dr. Farley) is just as wrong as he
is," Bonderud said. "That is not the way that we communicate."
There may be other concerns, as well, that could affect how students and
faculty communicate, he said. The effect of Farley's public statement on
his private teaching life remains to be seen.
"Lots of white students will feel uncomfortable and offended by him, but it
will eventually die down," he said. "If he continues on these rants, he has
the potential of turning into the next Confederate Memorial Hall. For
political correctness reasons perhaps we should delete his name from the
Regardless, students said that Farley is an invaluable part of University.
"Dr. Farley is a brilliant math professor," Ali said. "He should not be
fired for expressing his views."
Monday at 6 p.m. in the Lewis Reading Room there will be a round table
discussion on Farley's column. John Egerton, a local historian, will serve
as a moderator.
90 odd comments follow,I haven't read em' yet.