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University of Pennsylvania seeks to silence Professor Gil-White

By duncan bayne in News
Sat Feb 14, 2004 at 05:30:01 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

Professor Francisco J. Gil-White is claiming that the University of Pennsylvania is trying to fire him for his political analyses of issues surrounding the former Yugoslavia, the PLO, and other sensitive topics.

Professor Gil-White is no stranger to controversy. In addition to his work as an academic, he has written & co-written, many informative, well-documented articles for the website Emperors Clothes. These include:

Professor Gil-White's opinions on many issues contradict the 'offical line' - especially where he accuses NATO, not Slobodan Milosevic, of organising & perpetrating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. What is disconcerting is that his colleagues & superiors at the University of Pennsylvania have been attempting to pursuade him to censor his own opinions, dangling academic tenure as a carrot before a donkey - as seen here (an excerpt from this email):

My role as your mentor is to optimize the probability that you will get tenure. In that context, I am sure the advice I give you is correct. Though I agree that bringing some of your Yugoslavia stuff into your biocultural course is relevant to the subject of the course, it is an option, and it serves to muddy the distinction between you as an academic and as a commentator on the world scene. I am only trying to protect you. f[sic] you want to optimize the effect your studies of distortions in the press and popular and informed views, I would suggest two things.
1. Contain it to the political world until you get tenure

Another aspect of the attack against Professor Gil-White is that no-one has credibly attacked the facts he presents. Complaints have been made (by his colleagues) about his teaching style (which is excellent, according to his evaluations), his attitude, and his course material (which is also considered excellent by his students). These issues are raised & refuted by Professor Gil-White in this email.

Only two people have attempted to debate him, both of whom, in his own words, he made mincemeat of. These debates can be found on Emperors Clothes:


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Related Links
o Professor Francisco J. Gil-White
o is claiming
o University of Pennsylvania
o Emperors Clothes
o Expert on psychology of ethnic conflict changes his mind about Yugoslavia:
o Murder At The Hague?
o Bush Gets Tangled in his 9-11 Lies, Part 1:
o The Freezer Truck Hoax:
o this email
o evaluation s
o Palestinia n suicide bombing:
o Debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
o Also by duncan bayne

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University of Pennsylvania seeks to silence Professor Gil-White | 52 comments (39 topical, 13 editorial, 3 hidden)
Mob-speak in Penn (none / 3) (#2)
by nkyad on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 04:11:39 PM EST

Imagine the Dean on the phone to Mike "Fingers" Carmine, discussing the time and means to "silence" the inconvenient professor and later that evenning reporting to the Faculty that "the Gil-White problem is as good as dealt with, gentlemen, shall we have supper?".

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run

Ivy League Schools seeks to further Liberal (1.16 / 6) (#3)
by Adam Rightmann on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 04:46:10 PM EST

Agenda! Film at 11.

And after that, an Ivy League lesbian marries a male investment banker upon graduation.

Liberal? (none / 1) (#8)
by duncan bayne on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 05:11:55 PM EST

I think you're confusing the term liberal with socialist - visit www.mises.org & learn the difference.  Seriously.

[ Parent ]
Socialist? (none / 2) (#13)
by readpunk on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 07:24:45 PM EST

Honestly, please. Was Stalin a socialist?

I can wear a cross but that does not make me Christian.

[ Parent ]

Sigh (none / 0) (#46)
by duncan bayne on Sun Feb 15, 2004 at 06:21:14 PM EST

The U.N. is socialist.  Specifically so.  E.g. consider their position on land ownership.

[ Parent ]
Right. (none / 0) (#48)
by readpunk on Mon Feb 16, 2004 at 06:25:19 PM EST

We are talking about a Prof. not the UN.

[ Parent ]
What is the liberal agenda? (none / 2) (#15)
by cronian on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 08:04:55 PM EST

Could someone please explain what the liberal agenda is, and what are its primary publications. Are you referring to such things as sociology, gender studies, black studies, etc? By liberal agenda, do you mean neo-liberalism with the World Bank, IMF, WTO, NAFTA, etc? So do the WTO protestors count as anti-liberal? So was the liberal agenda in favor of attacking Slobodan Milosevic? Was the liberal agenda for or against the war in Iraq? Does the liberal agenda support Bush? Does the liberal agenda support welfare and affirmative action? I can't seem to figure out what the liberal agenda is.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Penn? Liberal? (none / 0) (#51)
by rantweasel on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 09:25:54 PM EST

For that matter, Ivy League?  In name only...  As for Penn being liberal, take a look at Wharton.  It's about as pro-business Republican as it gets.

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#52)
by KrispyKringle on Wed Mar 31, 2004 at 03:57:35 PM EST

You're right about Wharton being Republican, but ``Ivy League in name only''? I'm not sure what that means. If you're referring to school quality, as determined by meaningless rankings or prestige, Penn beats a couple of other Ivy schools on a regular basis. Number 4, according to the (a I said, meaningless) US News and World Report rankings last year.

Anywho, this guy, from what I've heard, isn't a conservative. He's a radical liberal; his censorship, if you want to call it that (I wouldn't) gives little credence to the notion that conservative voices on campuses are silenced, considering that his voice is more liberal (so far left it's right, you might say) than that on campus as a whole.

But then, Republicans on campus (who are statistically in the minority, not because they are censored but because educated Republicans tend to pursue careers in business and corporate America) love to complain about how they're the underdog in academia (even at Penn). If more educated people were Republican, I'd tend to agree. But education, for whatever reason, seems to make people a bit more liberal.

[ Parent ]

Tenure as carrot. (3.00 / 18) (#14)
by debillitatus on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 07:53:01 PM EST

There was a comment above about how tenure is being "dangled like a carrot" in trying to censor the professor. I think that this is a bad misreading of the scenario, and let me try to give my prespective as a professor who is (hopefully!) also on the way to tenure.

First, note that in the quote you use, the mentor was not telling Prof. Gil-White not to publish on a certain topic or not to write letters to a publication, anything like that. The advice was given to not speak about a certain subject in a course. This is honestly a completely different issue.

Ok, maybe I'm lucky because I am in mathematics, and therefore I never have to bring any controversial material into the classroom. This guy may have to make more borderline decisions. That being said, I think that one should minimize the controversy in the classroom before one is tenured. Tenure is a serious decision which is not taken lightly by any school, and controversy doesn't really help.

Second, I really think that this guy's mentor is giving him advice which is good and heartfelt. I would probably do the same in a similar situation. You might make a reasonable argument that the advice is wrong, but it in no way is anything like censorship. He's not telling him not to publish, he's telling him what he should say "in front of the kids", which is really another ballgame altogether.

Third, remember the function of tenure: one can do controversial work and not worry about repercussions, and this is the source of academic freedom. But you gotta get there. The best way to do that is establish a research identity of a consistently solid scholar. Controversy is probably not be the best way to do this.

Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!

I agree (none / 3) (#16)
by pyramid termite on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 08:35:56 PM EST

I think the focus of any controversy or question of his getting tenure has to be what is being said or done in the classroom. Furthermore, to my mind, it's alright if he's bringing controversial views to the classroom as long as he's not presenting them as The Truth Which One Better Not Debate If One Wants A Good Grade, or taking up too much time with them at the expense of what he needs to be teaching.

I don't think his activities on the web should enter into it.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, you're right. (1.25 / 2) (#17)
by maynard on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 09:04:41 PM EST

There was a comment above about how tenure is being "dangled like a carrot" in trying to censor the professor. I think that this is a bad misreading of the scenario, and let me try to give my prespective as a professor who is (hopefully!) also on the way to tenure.

I wrote that, and was attempting to paraphrase Gil-White's assertion of censorship - not support him in his claims. Maybe I did a poor job making myself clear. Speaking not as a professor, but as administrative staff within a University, I may come at this from a different perspective. But I think we're both attempting to separate Gil-White's claims from the validity of this submission. I give Gil-White the benefit of the doubt as far as the submission goes, and leave it up to the reader to decide if he's right, or even if he is being oppressed by his advisor and the faculty/administration within his department. I don't doubt there is another side to this story we aren't receiving within the submission.

Which - fairly - makes this not news, but something else. But that subject is for a reply to imdkl and not you. :)


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Should other things matter (none / 3) (#20)
by cronian on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 11:03:45 PM EST

So long as the professor is putting out good peer-reviewed papers, and getting grants, should other things matter? I remember reading about some Russian engineering professor in Canada, who lied about his degree, harrassed everyone threatening to kill many, was a complete asshole in every imaginable way, and they didn't care because he published papers, and got grants. They only took action after he killed a few people in the department; I guess they couldn't publish anymore. Plenty of professors seem to have controversial views, although I suppose most don't mention them until after they get tenure. Although, if putting out papers that get citations is all that matters, why should they even bother him about what he puts out.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
no, teaching matters too (none / 3) (#38)
by anmo on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 05:09:26 PM EST

It is true that at a research institution, research is the most important criterion, but teaching matters too, and at a place like penn, I would expect it to matter more than at the average research university. On paper, I am pretty sure it matters as much as research, even though in practice it is research that count, as long as you are not a complete ass to students.

[ Parent ]
Doomed. (1.50 / 4) (#19)
by StephenThompson on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 10:40:42 PM EST

Nutty professors do this all the time, ranting about hwo they are being cheated of tenure.  Bah.  He is a loose cannon and there is no way they are going to get past the fact that he took his grievences out on internet rather than keep his dignity and listen to his peers.

Say good-bye to any chance of tenure anywhere now.

nah (none / 1) (#21)
by cronian on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 11:06:22 PM EST

Don't most complain AFTER they've been denied tenure. I've heard there a few schools that specialize in hiring professors who've been denied tenure for controversial political views.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Funny, eh (none / 1) (#22)
by LJ on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 11:22:50 PM EST

how the American right attacks the academic establishment when they are criticized, yet keep quiet and don't mention things like this, where a liberal/conservative/oddball? professor, who does not agree with the majority of his peers, is told to silence himself. While he may not deserve tenure, if indeed, he is propogating false information, that is still not a valid reason to fire him. Wait until he screws up teaching, can't get any grants, and is a drain on his department, when they have a paper trail of material evidence of the reasons for his being fired.

"A feature is a bug the programmers don't want to fix"

After (none / 3) (#23)
by LJ on Thu Feb 12, 2004 at 11:28:33 PM EST

having briefly scanning through some of his writing, his Bachelors in Composition is very much apparent. Lots of writing, with little point. Like the n00b who is taken, hook, line, and sinker by a troll, he succumbed several times to trying to argue with them without answering the original statements. While he presents his opinions openly, and prominently, he lacks the ability to truly drive home the point in a few words and leave it at that. Sadly, the English language is not well suited for brevity, and as such, cannot be wielded as a true weapon of persuasion without much training.

"A feature is a bug the programmers don't want to fix"
[ Parent ]

-1 confuses two issues (3.00 / 18) (#24)
by livus on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 05:14:59 AM EST

This article has some interesting issue but it seriously misunderstands the nature of academia.

Tenure is not an automatic right of every tom dick and harry who becomes a university lecturer. The academy is not some charity (though a glance at a gaggle of emiritus profs at lunch may give that impression). Tenure depends on the ability of the lecturer to deliver a product and a service which the university requires.

If the guy does not want to deliver that product, fine, he should seek employment elsewhere - no one is stopping him.

A glance through that homepage reveals that the guy is teaching to first year undergrads.

This raises two issues: firstly that teaching a large proportion of hearsay and controversial opinion at a basic level is unlikely to work. It just isn't compatible with curriculum delivery.

Also, freshmen are not the best judges of teaching ability, particularly when it comes to content. They'll often favour something flamboyant which spoonfeeds them, and furthermore they have no way of judging the accuracy of course content. Fellow teachers are probably better placed to evaluate this, just as fellow doctors are better placed to evaluate surgery than than fellow patients.

Basically, the guy has stated several times on his site that he is using his teaching as a platform from which to protest. But, the university system is not obliged to provide that platform.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Plus conside the source (none / 0) (#50)
by Woundweavr on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 02:15:41 AM EST

Great comment first of all, couldn't have said it nearly as well. One clarification. he was teaching a freshman level course when he gave leactures about his controversial ideas.

Nevertheless, he's an Assistant Professor. He teaches freshmen, and indeed it seems he only teaches one course a semester. In fact, he has only ever taught anything but Biocultural Psychology (the freshman lvl course) and this semester Psychology of Ethnicity (a high level course). He has a grand total of three years teaching as a professor and two years as a teaching assistant. And yet he's making a stink over a friendly warning when he lectures about irrelevent inflamatory topics in his course.

Finally, look at the guys webpage. He's clearly very, very full of himself. He even has a "Francisco in the News..." (on top of the one about these claims) link and takes up most of his UPenn site with his claims about Yugoslavia. Perhaps no one has directly disputed because he's probably the bottom rung professor in a department fairly unrelated to the issues he's talking about.

[ Parent ]

Tenure sucks. (2.20 / 10) (#27)
by waxmop on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 09:12:14 AM EST

Tenure protects outdated thinkers. It may be designed to protect the controversial professor, but just like the email in the above article shows, tenure candidates are pressured to stay within the bounds of what the department wants to hear from them. It starts in graduate school: PhD candidates write dissertations based on the faculty they work with. Then they hope to get a tenure-track job where they do their best to win over the hearts of the department. Then, after spending about a decade ideologically fellating the authority, are we really supposed to believe that that the tenured professor is going to finally work on some new heretical idea? Or is it more likely that she'll just switch into "it's payback time" mode and make the upcoming grad students service her?

Take Marvin Minsky, for example. He did his best for decades to denigrate anyone that didn't buy his top-down, symbol-processing approach to cognition. If you wanted to study artificial intelligence at MIT, you had to play by his rules. Or look at economics -- almost every PhD out of the University of Chicago comes out chanting the exact same creepy Milton Friedman bullshit free market mantra.

Take a computer science class with a tenured professor and you'll feel like you fell at least 10 years into the past. Most universities were still teaching PASCAL well into the 1990s. Now they're getting modern and kids are writing java applets. Once these guys get tenure, they just stop trying. For every cool old prof that inspires interest in the subject, I'll show you a dozen unapproachable assholes that since getting tenure, haven't published anything except insignificant extensions to previous work, and in the classroom, do nothing but discourage their students.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar

Pascal (2.80 / 5) (#29)
by cronian on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 09:51:40 AM EST

I think there are a lot of benefits to learning Pascal as a first programming language. The syntax makes clear what everything does to a beginning programmer. Java is crap, but it was supposedly the latest and greatest; Hardly, a conservative choice.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
No, that is not what tenure is (2.57 / 7) (#30)
by CAIMLAS on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 11:25:43 AM EST

Tenure is nothing like you seem to present it.

Tenure is, in the eyes of a University, an attempt to hold onto an experienced mind, someone well versed in the field.

The idea is, to the best of my understanding, to prevent some other school from trying to take all their experienced professors. The fact that many professors become useless after tenure has nothing to do with tenure itself; it has to do with there not being enough high-quality professors in the first place.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

You are wrong (1.33 / 15) (#33)
by sellison on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 01:01:29 PM EST

tenure is to prevent professors from being fired when they attack the government, as so many liberal longhaired socialists have tended to do.

University Administrators also tend to be secret socialist longhairs, and so they created tenure as an excuse for not firing firebrands who go off the deep end.

America would be a far better place if tenure was eliminated as it would allow the funders of the universities to kick out professors who decide to start using their classroom to promote socialism, atheism, drug use, and 'free' love.

Frankly, there are dozens of qualified pHds for just about every field, the ones who get tenure tend to be the liberal socialists who toe the politically correct party line.

This professor is not going to get tenure because he pointed out the Milosovic and the Serbs were right in being afraid of the radical muslims they were being surronded with, and they were just defending themselves from the Euro's attempt to turn former Yugoslavia into an islamic ghetto.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

OMFG: I just gave sellison a 3. (1.60 / 5) (#36)
by waxmop on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 01:19:25 PM EST

I'm going to stand in the shower with all my clothes on and cry now.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]
odd that (none / 1) (#43)
by khallow on Sun Feb 15, 2004 at 01:29:39 PM EST

I'm feeling kinda funny too. Must be the aftereffects of the mind control lasers.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

yup, kill tenure (none / 3) (#49)
by wakim1618 on Mon Feb 16, 2004 at 08:33:13 PM EST

Tenure protects outdated thinkers.

And also demagogues and haters once they get tenure.

I have seen way too many idiots in academia who can't think. There are many who can't hold down a job outside academia - partly because they are socially inept and arrogant creeps, and partly because they have no skills or knowledge that anyone would pay for.

If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.
[ Parent ]

mmm interesting (none / 0) (#31)
by GfreshMofo on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 12:57:37 PM EST

I had heard that rumours that NATO had committed war crimes in the former yugoslavia. But im not entirely with the idea that milosevic is clean. I't has to be argued that he wasn't a very nice guy and he did some nasty shit.

He also took from American books ... Shakespeare ... Classic

of course Milosh is not clean (none / 3) (#40)
by crazycanuck on Sat Feb 14, 2004 at 09:11:49 AM EST

but he's not as dirty as they claim either, and the whole "trial" is just a farce, just like the war was.

because the serbs were killing albanians, they kicked out the serb army so the albanian forces can come in and start killing serbs (and run drugs)

[ Parent ]

-1 MAYNARD (1.12 / 16) (#34)
by sllort on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 01:15:05 PM EST

Author is known troll.
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
0 SLLORT (1.60 / 5) (#37)
by maynard on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 04:29:29 PM EST

Author is a known troll.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
and your point is? (none / 1) (#39)
by harrystottle on Fri Feb 13, 2004 at 06:44:54 PM EST

I'm voting for it because it made me think. Does it matter who or what manages to make us do that?

Mostly harmless
[ Parent ]
Terrorist? (none / 0) (#41)
by Worker Bee on Sat Feb 14, 2004 at 10:03:54 AM EST

Sure looks like it...


Only the Chinese (none / 1) (#42)
by farmergiles on Sat Feb 14, 2004 at 11:10:56 AM EST

think that Mongolians or Tibetans are terrorists
[ Parent ]
University of Pennsylvania seeks to silence Professor Gil-White | 52 comments (39 topical, 13 editorial, 3 hidden)
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