Harvard Professor Calls for Universities to Blacklist Trump Admin Officials

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: Morning sunlight strikes the flag flying above the White House March 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Secret Service said a letter sent to the White House tested positive for cyanide at an off-site mail screening facility Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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A professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government is calling for universities not to honor or hire Trump administration officials, essentially blacklisting them from opportunities to engage with the academic community.

Dani Rodrik, a professor of international political economy at the Kennedy School, wrote in an op-ed for the Boston Globe Monday that Trump administration officials should not even receive “a semblance of honor or recognition” from universities.

“Universities should uphold both free inquiry and the values of liberal democracy,” writes Rodrik. “The first calls for unhindered exchange and interaction with Trumpist views. The second requires that the engagement be carefully calibrated, with not even a semblance of honor or recognition bestowed on those serving an administration that so grossly violates liberal democratic norms.”

Rodrik’s comments come after a number of Trump administration and campaign officials have left the White House for the ivory tower.

Marc Short, who worked as the director of legislative affairs in the Trump White House, accepted a one-year senior fellowship position at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs, and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski accepted a fellowship at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

Both appointments resulted in liberal faculty members protesting their appointments, but Rodrik argued that such appointments should not happen at all.

Rodrik argued that appointing Trump administration members poses “a serious dilemma” to universities because the appointments run the risk of “normalizing and legitimizing what can only be described as an odious presidency”:

On one hand, universities must be open to diverse viewpoints, including those that conflict with mainstream opinion or may seem threatening to specific groups. Students and faculty who share Trump’s viewpoint should be free to speak without censorship. Universities must remain for free inquiry and debate. Moreover, schools and institutes of public affairs must offer student and faculty opportunities to engage with the policymakers of the day.

On the other hand, there is the danger of normalizing and legitimizing what can only be described as an odious presidency. Trump violates on a daily basis the norms on which liberal democracy rests. He undermines freedom of the media and independence of the judiciary, upholds racism and sectarianism, and promotes prejudice. He blithely utters one falsehood after another.

The Harvard professor went on to describe that administrators in the ivory tower should not bestow “honorific titles” upon any Trump administration officials, essentially blacklisting them from engaging in academia:

They should be treated in a civil manner when they show up. But they should not be accorded the degree of respect or deference that their seniority and government positions would normally merit. We do not, after all, have a normal administration that can be served honorably.

This means no honorific titles (fellow, senior fellow), no named lectures, no keynote speeches headlining conferences or events. While individual faculty members and student groups should be free to invite Trump appointees to speak on campus, as a rule such invitations should not be issued by senior university officers.


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