A Letter in Support of Rachel Fulton Brown
Rachel Fulton Brown, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago’s Department of History, during the last several years has been the subject of a series of defamatory attacks.

Vigorous polemics by Professor Brown, notably her blog-posts “Talking Points: Three Cheers for White Men” (June 5, 2015) and “How to Signal You Are Not a White Supremacist” (September 14, 2017), led a large number of scholars to calumny Professor Brown as a racist, a white supremacist, and someone who has been complicit in inciting violence against her fellow professionals.

We do not think such calumnies should be answered by silence. We affirm our belief that Rachel Fulton Brown’s professional character meets the standards catalogued by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its Statement on Professional Ethics (https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-professional-ethics). We specifically affirm our belief that Professor Brown has fulfilled "all obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars," and that she has never "discriminate[d] against or harass[ed] colleagues." We affirm that any university, scholarly association, or other academic body should be proud to have Professor Brown as a member.

We respect and cherish the principle of institutional neutrality in scholarly disputes. Yet we do not think that principle conflicts with the duty of academic corporate bodies to vindicate the reputation of their members when they have been falsely accused of disgraceful and unprofessional conduct. We therefore call on all institutions of whom Professor Brown is a member—and all institutions who object to the defamation of scholarly good character—to join us in these affirmations.

We specifically urge that public vindications of Professor Brown’s scholarly good character be made by President Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago, Dean Amanda Woodward of the University of Chicago’s Division of the Social Sciences, Acting Chair Adrian Johns of the University of Chicago’s Department of History, and President David Wallace of the Medieval Academy of America.

We urge these institutions to consider the damage their own reputations have suffered by failing to repudiate the calumnies inflicted upon Rachel Fulton Brown. We counsel them that they can best restore their own reputations by a wholehearted vindication of her character.


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