Is “Incivility” the New Communism?

by VanessaVaile


During the great red scare of the late 1940s and 1950s, many otherwise “liberal” politicians and, sadly, more than a few academics argued that faculty members who were Communists (actually in practice those who declined to publicly state they were not Communists or even those who refused to denounce others) forfeited the right to academic freedom because allegedly they were not independent thinkers but subservient to a foreign power.  (A similar argument had once been made against Catholics, with Rome standing in for Moscow.)  Moreover, it was often claimed, Communists were out to destroy the very academic freedom from which they sought (cynically, of course!) to benefit.  Hence, they must be denied its protections.  (The AAUP’s behavior at the time was at best spotty; for the background see the fine books by AAUP activists Ellen Schrecker and Marjorie Heins.)

Today it seems a similar argument is directed against those…

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