Reject Professor’s Bigoted Comments About Paris Attacks

Target: Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University

Goal: Officially condemn the anti-Muslim remarks professor Carol M. Swain made in response to recent Paris attacks.

Dr. Carol M. Swain, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, recently published a horribly Islamophobic op-ed on the recent terror attacks against Charlie Hebdo in France. In the piece, she claimed that the attack had proved all the critics of Islam “right” and that Islam was incompatible with American society. Demand that the university officially condemn Professor Swain’s remarks.

Professor Swain’s op-ed is reads like the anti-Muslim bigotry of many on the far right. Swain says that Islam should not be given the respect that America gives to other religions; that it will never “understand” the American values of freedom of speech, assembly, and association; that we must “institute serious monitoring” of Islamic organizations if we are to stay safe from its “absolute danger”; and that we must understand the dangers of the burqa. It is terrifying to see these talking points come from a professor of political science. Her words precipitated a massive protest against hate speech on Vanderbilt’s campus and numerous condemnations from both students and other faculty members.

The university as an institution, however, has yet to come out against Professor Swain’s comments and show that they do not represent the values of the university. Sign the petition below to demand that Vanderbilt University officially condemn the professor’s comments.


Dear Chancellor Zeppos,

I am writing you today regarding the controversy that has been stirred up from one of your professor’s op-eds in The Tennessean. Professor Swain’s comments about Islam were unacceptable. It is upsetting to see these views come from a person of such learning and prestige.

At this point, I am sure I do not need to explain to you why Professor Swain’s comments were so offensive. Indeed, Farishtay Yamin explained it just fine when she launched a protest on campus condemning the hate speech, as did Zoha Malik, when they wrote a letter to the dean explaining how disappointed they were to see Professor Swain’s words. And the Vanderbilt’s Muslim Student Association, in a response published by the Vanderbilt Hustler. And a faculty member, David J. Wasserstein, one of Swain’s colleagues, when he wrote a response piece in The Tennessean. And Benjamin Taylor, when he wrote a counter op-ed in the Vanderbilt Hustler.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the members of the Vanderbilt community who have come out against Professor Swain’s words. The university as an institution, however, has remained silent. I would like to propose that you set the record straight regarding the university’s stance on Swain’s comments while still supporting her right to say them. I demand that Vanderbilt University officially condemn Professor’s Swain’s bigoted comments and demonstrate that they do not reflect the values of the university.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Email4jonathan via Wikimedia Commons

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