So yesterday, in an angry Facebook post responding to the news that Senate Republicans had overwhelmingly voted to acquit Ex-President Forty-Five of inciting a deadly insurrection, I described the modern Republican party as “a bunch of cowardly, dangerous, conspiratorial, dangerous, undemocratic, white fascist fucks.”

Shortly after, this post was reported to my superiors. While they recognized this was protected speech and did not ask me take down the post, they also noted that given my leadership role on my campus, such a post could have a negative effect on students and faculty over whom I have authority.

If I may paraphrase Turbish from Disenchantment, “Two things can be true.” [1].

I stand by the first statement: the modern Republican party [2, 3] is a bunch of cowardly [4, 5], conspiratorial [6, 7], dangerous [8, 9], undemocratic [10], white fascist [11, 12, 13, 14]… er… misanthropes [15, 16].

However, I will concede that that sentence is rather sensationalist and without nuance. Let me try it again: the policies and platform of the modern (that is, post-Southern-Strategy [17]) GOP stand in profound opposition to everything I believe and hold dear.

I believe in an egalitarian democracy; the GOP sneers at it [18]. I believe in a pluralistic multicultural melting pot; the GOP laments a loss of cultural homogeneity [19]. I want my Chinese daughters to be safe and change the world; the GOP wants to send them back [20] and take their Kung Flu with them [21]. I believe in critical thinking and education; the GOP calls me an elitist and an indoctrinator [22]. I believe in empiricism and scientific deduction; the GOP touts evangelical fundamentalism and politicizes science while washing its hands of the blood of nearly a half-million COVID victims. I believe every citizen is entitled to a living wage; the GOP believes the poor deserve their suffering. I believe Black lives matter and trans women are women and every person is entitled to equal protection under the law; the GOP says they’re thugs and perverts. I believe that it is through diversity and inclusion that we find our strength: the GOP does not [23]. I believe that policy should be critically analyzed and not harm the weakest in society: the GOP does not [24, 25]. And while I believe that we, as a society, are obligated to care for each other, the stochastic terrorists of the GOP instead cheered on a murderous siege on the Capitol hoping to install as dictator a petty, loathsome, abomination of a man.

This brings me to the second part: what are the negative effects of such stated beliefs?

If negative effects means that students or faculty might be made feel bad and rethink their support of granting political power — that is, the right to inflict legal violence — on an increasingly radicalized authoritarian cult of personality… well… then… good? I don’t think that’s anything I need to apologize for, but I pledge next time I’ll add more citations next time to clear up any ambiguity.

If negative effects means that students or faculty are worried that I might punish them academically or professionally for holding political opinions for which I disagree, then… yeah, that is a valid point. Let me try to address that now.

Maybe you agree with my politics, in which case… cool! Welcome comrade! Let’s get to smashing unjust hierarchies.

Maybe you don’t agree with my politics, in which case… fine. You do you. People can disagree — even profoundly — in good faith and still be colleagues, friends, even family.

I may not treat a person’s beliefs or opinions with respect, but I will always treat a person with respect.

By virtue of the rational ethical theory to which I subscribe, I am obligated to care for you and about you, whoever you are. And I will. I will still treat you with respect and dignity and inundate you with nerdy references and terrible puns because that’s what I do. When I do screw up, it is typically stupidity rather than malice, and I do try to be better about it after. I would not stand in class and proselytize for the proletariat, nor would I purge my academic ranks of political dissidents.  At school I do my best to provide my all students a rigorous mathematical education and to support my faculty to do the same; all that I expect from my students and faculty is they do the same.

I believe the nearly two decades of my life I have dedicated to my students and my discipline have provided ample evidence that I treat my students and my colleagues fairly, ethically, and without prejudice.

I hope that clears that up, but one final note…

Perhaps you think my characterization of Republican beliefs is too reductive or faulty. Perhaps you think my beliefs are too utopian and foolhardy. You may be right. I am always willing to discuss, debate, and interrogate my beliefs, ideally in person and, more ideally, over a pint.

But I will not do it here on social media.

I’ve laid this out before [26], but let me reiterate it here. Social media is not a place conducive to reflection or measured discussion, which is regrettable. If you post police apologia or low-key white supremacist memes or TERF talking points on your Facebook or Instagram or whatever, I will not waste my time trying to come to a common understanding with you on social media… I will simply block you from my feed. My time online is better spent advocating for the people being targeted by such speech than trying to electronically redeem the people targeting them. I would greatly appreciate you doing the same.


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