‘I denied that these self-appointed judges held any moral authority over me’
In a recent interview, a professor at New York University said that he was “ambushed” after publicly criticizing politically correct campus culture, stating that even his fellow communist friends “denounced” him for speaking out.
“[A]fter the social-justice-infiltrated left showed me its gnarly fangs and drove me out,” Michael Rectenwald recently told FrontPage Mag, “I could no longer identify as a leftist.”
Rectenwald’s troubles, he said, began after he publicly identified himself as the man behind the “antipcnyuprof” Twitter account, after which “all hell broke loose.” Rectenwald became “the target of shunning and harassment from his colleagues and the NYU administration,” including “an open letter declaring him guilty of incorrect thinking.”
“Today’s ‘left’,” Rectenwald said at the time, “is rife with the most obscene, abusive, nasty, spiritually ugly and utterly unethical, hypocritical and fanatically horrible people I’ve ever encountered in my 58 years on Earth.”
“From what I could tell,” Rectenwald told FrontPage, “my worst offences included appearing on Fox News, sounding remotely like a member of an opposing political tribe, receiving positive coverage in right-leaning media, and criticizing leftist milieus just as Trump became President.”
“I denied that these self-appointed judges held any moral authority over me and declared their arbitrations null and void,” he added.
From the interview:
Friends and acquaintances from other communities also turned on me with a vengeance, joining in the groupthink repudiation. After my appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, the Twitter attack was so fierce, vitriolic, and sustained that my associate Lori Price and I spent a whole night blocking and muting tweeters.
But the worst banishment came from the NYU Liberal Studies community – to which I had contributed a great deal, and of which I had striven for years to be a well-regarded member. Soon after the open letter appeared, I recognized a virtual universal shunning by my faculty colleagues. One after another, colleagues unfriended and blocked me on Facebook. The few that didn’t simply avoided me entirely, until I saved them the trouble and unfriended them. Most stinging were the betrayals of those who once relied on my generosity, some whose careers I had supported and considerably advanced.
Despite the harsh treatment doled out to me by the social justice left and the warm reception I received from the right, I did not become a right-winger, or a conservative. But after the social-justice-infiltrated left showed me its gnarly fangs and drove me out, I could no longer identify as a leftist.
When asked if it is possible to “reverse the culture of politically correct totalitarianism that seems to be dominating academia today,” Rectenwald replied:
It is possible but reversing a forty-year trend that has finally resulted in what we have today – the complete takeover of academic pedagogy, philosophy, and policy by “social justice” ideology – will take a long, sustained effort, and the support of elements of the culture outside of academe, including media pundits, writers, independent scholars, public intellectuals, and a growing body of disaffected and vocal academic apostates and other renegades willing to take risks – as Bret Weinstein, Jordan Peterson, and others, including myself, have done. The way will be treacherous because the “social justice” left controls academic departments and administrations almost entirely, and everyone else within academia has been cowed into submission for fear of being “called out” as well. We are dealing with a Maoist-like Red Guard as we undergo a soft cultural revolution of our own. David Horowitz has been right all this time about the communists lurking in academia. Their impact has now been manifested through the “social justice” movement.
“Although the [social justice] movement trades on a euphemistic name,” Rectenwald said, “…contemporary ‘social justice’ has nothing to do with justice and is anything but benevolent.”