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[Thread] PLEASE read and consider. This is important! An academic organization, the Society for Classical Studies @scsclassics, has just censured a fantastic scholar for standing up to racist and white supremacist speech at a conference. Let's talk about this...b/c we need to.
So, first you need to watch this video (for about 5 minutes) at a session at the recent conference on the Future of Classics (44:56). This is Mary Frances Williams, an independent scholar.
Williams begins with a typical rant about "Western Civilization" which even non-classicists like myself recognize is a deeply problematic conception with overt racist connotations. She begins with "I'll probably offend all of you." Not auspicious.
She then marginalizes scholars doing work she considers unimportant (gender, etc).She says that we need to defend Western Civilization (sound familiar?)At this point noted scholar @SarahEBond points out (rightly) that "Western Civilization" is a construct. washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/0…
A brief aside about Dr. Bond. Full disclosure: I went to graduate school at @UNC with her and consider her a friend and colleague. In the world of classics and ancient history, she has been a driving force for diversity and combating white supremacy.hyperallergic.com/383776/why-we-…
Her article on polychromy in the Ancient World garnered her online threats and harassment (as the construct of Western Civilization and its whiteness is often a deeply held belief of white nationalists, racists, and Nazis). insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/1…
Her public scholarship in this area has enabled an incredibly important discussion to finally be had.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/…
In her academic work, Dr. Bond has also focused on marginalized people, in the ancient world in her fascinating and path-breaking work: "Trade and Taboo: Disreputable Professions in the Roman Mediterranean" She is also a leader in the #DH. press.umich.edu/8224993/trade_…
Back to the Jan 2019 @scsclassics conference. After Dr. Bond interjects that "Western Civilization" is a problematic construct, Williams says that it stands for "liberty, democracy, and freedom (sound familiar?). She goes on to say that "we" are Western Civ. (Who is "we?")
Williams continues, "We don't have to only do women's studies, ethnic studies" etc clearly denigrating and dismissing those topics as not really important. Williams continues with her nonsense until @SarahEBond again interjects to say enough and correct her.
At this point Williams shouts, "I am not a socialist!" and then accuses a black scholar essentially of getting his job because he is black. The audience is horrified. Don't believe me? Roll tape!
Dr. Dan El-Padilla @platanoclassics the person of color being accused of getting his job b/c he is black responds in a more calm tone than most of us would have been capable of. (He only graduated summa cum laude (UG) from Princeton where he is now a prof)
The @scsclassics issues a tepid and weak condemnation of this exchange with Mary Frances Williams it includes few details about what ACTUALLY happened. classicalstudies.org/scs-news/state…
Dr. El-Padilla, however, responds with a much more thoughtful piece on @Medium. medium.com/@danelpadillap…
Fast forward to 26 Feb and Mary Frances Williams is baaaaack, with an amazing piece of mental gymnastics in the 5th rate @Quillette. Her rhetoric, intentional or not, echoes the alt-right. Victimization of white men, academic freedom v. "censorship," etc. bit.ly/2XmkOVr
She doesn't even get to the point where she accuses a black professor of getting his position because he is black until deep in the piece, dismissing it as a result of stress and failure to express herself clearly. (Seemed pretty clear to me.)
Classicist @NevilleMorley has written a much more eloquent discussion of the incident and larger context. He also sadly notes that Dr. Bond is being censured by @scsclassics for denouncing racism. This is simply unfathomable and infuriating as it should be to all scholars.
Williams WAS punished and banned from the conference but this is not a case of "good people on both sides." Were I to have reacted to a Holocaust denier or far-right nationalist at a conference as Dr. Bond did, I am sure I would NOT be censured but congratulated.
Why is this important to all scholars (and everyone else?) B/c Dr. Bond and Dr. El-Padilla are fighting cultures of white supremacy and misogyny in their disciplines.Those of us who also are in this fight in different historical time periods and contexts are in this fight w/them.
Never mind that, as a #Holocaust historian, I regularly confront the misappropriation of the allegedly white Western Civilization by white nationalists and racists. History matters. Teaching at @uva during/after the Nazi march makes that all too clear. forbes.com/sites/drsarahb…
Civility and free exchange of ideas is important, but some are so far beyond the bounds truth and acceptability that an interruption at a conference panel is certainly justified. Williams had her chance to spew her odd vision of Western Civilization, after all.
I hope that those who read this thread (assuming you made it all the way to the end) will join me in condemning the actions of @scsclassics in censuring a scholar for politely if forcefully speaking back against racist and white supremacist ideologies.We are all in this together.
Sorry...forgot to post the link to @NevilleMorley's excellent piece.

From Neville's blog... "***The latest news is that is not intended as a formal censure, just a note that the matter had been discussed. Which raises further questions…"
Update from @scsclassics "The Society's Committee on Professional Ethics has not censured Prof. Sarah Bond. More details will be forthcoming later." Interesting. classicalstudies.org/scs-news/commi…
Here are some more responses to the events at SCS (from January 2019)
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