I for one can’t believe that Bari Weiss and Thomas Chatterton Williams haven’t been all over the case of Garrett Felber, a leftist historian at the University of Mississippi fired for criticizing the institution’s racist actions, including working with the private prison industry. It’s almost as if they are complete hypocrites who exist primarily so people don’t criticize Israel.
This exposé of the Felber firing is really bonkers, in that it exposes just how deep the rot and corruption is at Mississippi.
After the Mississippi Free Press published the initial three-part exposé on the story behind the September 2018 scandal and wealthy donors’ outsize influence at UM, Felber criticized the university in a series of tweets, accusing them of “prioriz(ing) racist donors over all else.”
Felber said that Wilson, the history department chair, had rejected a $42,000 grant he had applied for that would have funded a political education project on mass incarceration and immigrant detention.
“What it does, it has a chilling effect on the ability of faculty and other people within the university to do anti-racist work. Because the university seems to be responding to the will of donors who by my definition are racist,” Felber told Mississippi Free Press reporter Christian Middleton last year, weeks before his contract’s termination.
The Mississippi Center For Justice statement yesterday said that Felber and UM “have reached a settlement for a confidential amount that avoids a lawsuit and the lengthy legal battle that would have ensued.” The historian has accepted a faculty fellowship at Yale University in American Studies at the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration.
“We believe that Dr. Felber’s termination violated the First Amendment,” one of Felber’s attorneys, Rob McDuff, said in the Mississippi Center For Justice statement yesterday. “This all went down after his very pointed criticisms of the university. The reasons given for the university’s decision don’t hold up, and Dr. Felber had an excellent record as a teacher and a faculty member, including stellar reviews from his department chair. But litigation takes a long time, and Dr. Felber’s decision to focus on continuing his important work in the future makes total sense.”
The other attorney, Naomi R. Shatz of the Boston law firm Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP, concurred.
“We are concerned by recent instances of universities across the country ignoring and violating their faculty members’ rights to free speech and academic freedom. Professors like Dr. Felber have a constitutional right to speak out about injustices they see in their institutions,” Shatz said. “The University’s decision has deprived it not only of an excellent professor, but of a valued member of its community.”
But hey, at least Mississippi responds well to student criticism!
“(Parchman) was also Vardaman’s sporting grounds,” Felber said in 2019. “As David Oshinsky recounts, the governor enjoyed a mock hunt where a prisoner was given a morning’s head start before they released bloodhounds, and they began hunting him.”
Since 2020, the Mississippi Department of Corrections has contracted with CoreCivic to house Parchman inmates in its private facilities following an outbreak of violence at the penal farm.
At the December MUMI conference, Felber also pointed to Fulton Chapel on campus where, just a year after Charles Overby became the editor of the student newspaper, members of the Black Student Union disrupted a concert and gave the Black Power salute. State police responded by arresting 90 students who represented almost half of the university’s entire Black student body at the time. Authorities sent many of them to Parchman.
“To intimidate student activists, eight of them were expelled … and the rest were put on 10 years’ probation,” Felber told the Dec. 5, 2019, MUMI audience.
They sent the students to Parchman Farm!!!!!!!!!
I’m sure that Big Media will get to this just as soon as The New Yorker runs another article on the quality of the banh mi at Oberlin.