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A Response to the Recent Attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven

AAA was one of 23 academic organizations that released a joint statement of response to the recent attacks on Professor Frances Fox Piven, renown professor of the University of New York Graduate Center. The statement condemns Glenn Beck, radio and television personality, for his attacks on Piven and calls for public officials and political commentators to help in discouraging the rhetoric of hate and violence.

The joint statement was featured in a NewsWise article. The article describes the how Beck’s coverage of Piven’s research has escalated in the past few months:
Although Beck has not directly called for violence against Piven, his attacks have created an opening for threats of violence to emerge. During the past few months, Piven has received a flood of hate mail and been the subject of menacing Internet postings, which include a series of death threats. Much of the violent vitriol has appeared on Beck’s own website.

The joint statement looks to the First Amendment rights for protection of academic research on controversial issues and urges open debate:
We vigorously support serious, honest, and passionate public debate…We support serious engagement on the research of Professor Piven and of others who study controversial issues such as unemployment, the economic crisis, the rights of welfare recipients, and the place of government intervention. We also support the right of political commentators to participate in such debates. At the same time, we insist that all parties recognize the rights of academic researchers not only to gather and analyze evidence related to controversial questions, but also to arrive at their own conclusions and to expect those conclusions to be reported accurately in public debates.

AAA sections, The American Ethnological Society (AES) and The Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology (SUNTA) are honored that Francis Fox Piven will be the keynote speaker at their upcoming joint conference. The conference will be held April 14-17 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For conference registration and additional details, click here.

To view the joint statement and to read the complete NewsWise article, click here. The Chronicle blog also weighs in on the topic, check it out.

RACE exhibit’s perfect timing

Timing of our RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit could not have worked out better as it opens tomorrow at Discovery Place in Charlotte. Simultaneous to the exhibit’s opening weekend, the American Renaissance’s conference was scheduled to take place at a local hotel. Due to the nature of this white nationalist conference, hosted by the New Century Foundation, the hotel cancelled the conference contract citing concern for guest safety. Local groups, such as the Southern Anti-Racism Network, were planning protests against the conference.

As you may imagine, the organization is quite upset with the lack of support and has turned to the city’s mayor pro tem, an African-American, for support. The mayor has also cited concern for public safety as reason to not pressure its businesses to host the conference. The Foundation’s leader, Jared Taylor, sought a new meeting location but also a public apology from the City of Charlotte for its violation of the organization’s First Amendment rights to free speech. Taylor received neither and the conference has been cancelled.

Mary Curtis of Politics Daily, an AOL original news source, writes:

Probably not on the agenda of Taylor, who said he believes the races have evolved independently, is the newest exhibit set to open this weekend at Charlotte’s hands-on science museum, Discovery Place. In an accident of timing that could not be more perfect, “Race: Are We So Different?” promises visitors will discover that human beings are more alike than any other living species and no one gene or set of genes can support the idea of race.

“We all can see that people look different, but modern science and anthropology may alter how we understand and experience race,” said John Mackay, president and CEO of Discovery Place. “Science has demonstrated that humans cannot be divided into ‘races’ based on physical attributes or genes. It’s about the effects of geography and where people live, not categories.”

We hope that the American Renaissance conference attendees and Taylor drop in on the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit at Discovery Place while they are in Charlotte. Perhaps they might learn a thing or two about the science of race.

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