Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis). A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)
Dear Dr. Wildes:
No doubt you have received quite a bit of correspondence by now about Walter Block. I won’t rehash the main points. You are familiar with them already.
I will say that I find it impossible to believe that you, an intelligent man, believe your own interpretation of Walter’s remarks to the New York Times. You note that Walter’s comment about slavery seems to run counter to libertarian principles. You don’t say! Might that be an indication that the Times, which despises what Walter stands for, has distorted his views?
A university president ought to support his faculty in a case like this, in which he knows full well that a professor has been grotesquely mischaracterized. If this were an accurate rendering of Walter’s views, why was he considering a libel suit?
Had Walter been a left-wing professor accused of Stalinism, would you have been so quick to denounce him? The question answers itself.
This is why it is impossible to believe that any of this has to do with Walter’s remarks. You are not a fool. You know Walter, and you know where he stands. He has never kept his views a secret. You owed him better, and you failed him.
Now it’s true, you did communicate to the university community that your views are the conventional and respectable ones, and that you are not to be confused with Walter Block. We got that.
Some of your faculty, whom you should have rebuked rather than implicitly congratulated, treated Walter with a similar lack of charity.
Since the substance of your (and their) claims have been dealt with elsewhere, let me raise some relevant considerations:
(1) How many professors at Loyola University can say students have enrolled for the express purpose of studying with them?
(2) How many professors at Loyola University can say they have co-authored scholarly articles with their students – not once or twice, but dozens of times?
(3) How many professors at Loyola University have a big enough audience that it would even matter if they urged students to attend Loyola, as Walter constantly does?
(4) How many professors at Loyola University have over 400 peer-reviewed articles?
(5) How many professors at Loyola University would anyone anywhere in the country lift a single finger for?
(6) Oh, and how many professors at Loyola University, who preposterously accused Walter of “sexism” for denying that “discrimination” could explain the male-female wage gap, dared to face Walter in open debate? (Their decision not to try to debate Walter is a fleeting sign of intelligence among them.)
Yes, yes, I got the message: your faculty is against slavery. What courage they must have had to summon in 2014 to unbosom to the world their opposition to slavery!
But I wonder: would people who ostentatiously announce their opposition to slavery in 2014 have had the courage to oppose it when it counted – say, in 1850? I have my doubts that people so desperate to assure the world of their conventional opinions and how appalled and offended they are by heretics, would have been the sort of people to buck conventional opinion at a time when two percent of the American electorate supported an abolitionist political party.
What I know for a fact is that Walter Block would have opposed it, lock, stock, and barrel.
That you simply repeated the New York Times’ characterization of Walter Block, without even conceding, as the Times did, that Walter believed slavery was wrong because it was involuntary – so your behavior was worse than that of the Times, which is no mean feat – is bewildering and appalling in a university president, or indeed in a human being.
Long after every name on that list of Walter’s faculty critics is gone and forgotten, the work of Walter Block will continue to educate new generations in the principles of liberty. No one will recall the pygmies who attacked him out of spite or envy.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Ph.D.
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