Following the murder of school teacher Samuel Paty, over 100 French academics published a Manifesto supporting a universalist approach to education. They were denounced as ‘deeply disingenuous’ and ‘profoundly dangerous’ in an open letter by a group of academics mostly from English-speaking universities.
Here, in a robust response to their critics, the French scholars argue that ‘academic freedom is threatened precisely by the movements within academia that want to stifle diversity of opinion and to attack the core values of a secular society’:
We remind the signatories of the open letter that activist groups threaten the teaching of the Western canon in universities (which translates into no Shakespeare or Proust). We remind them of the attack on art and music. We remind them of the incursion of activist theory on the sciences and biomedicine. We remind them of the problems encountered when teaching “divisive” subjects such as sex differences or evolution. We point out that many academic institutions and companies are falling into the virtue-signalling trap where they must show allegiance. We remind them that all this has consequences on society because it creates a divisive social environment at all levels, in the Academy and in broader society. We do not want this to happen in continental Europe and so we refuse the promotion of identitarian tribalism.