Professor William Jacobson is a teacher at Cornell University, one of the leading law schools in the country. He’s recognized as one of the foremost experts on investment fraud, investment protection, and securities arbitration, and his opinions have been cited in outlets such as Thomson/Reuters and Politico. He’s also a conservative. And since the protests across the country began, this has meant trouble.
“Living as a conservative on a liberal campus is like being the mouse waiting for the cat to pounce,” Jacobson writes on his blog, Legal Insurrection.
On June 9, a letter cosigned by 21 of his colleagues was published in the Cornell Sun. It denounced certain unnamed “commentators… attached to Ivy League Institutions” as being “defenders of institutionalized racism and violence.” The letter came alongside a developing student petition, and pressure on the Dean from school alumni. For Jacobson, who had criticized the violence of the protests directly on his blog, it was no secret who was the target.
Two posts written by Jacobson, one titled, “Reminder: ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ is a fabricated narrative from the Michael Brown case” and the other, “The Bloodletting and Wilding Is Part of An Agenda To Tear Down The Country,” detail the history and tactics of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“People live in fear on campus.” Professor Jacobson said in a statement to The Federalist. “No one wants to be subjected to an online mob or a campaign to falsely call them racist. So they keep their mouths shut, and just go along hoping not to offend anyone. The people who want me fired or publicly denounced by the law school want to make me an example and a warning to others.”
This is not the first time the Ivy League campus has come under scrutiny for its handling of conservative voices. After appearing on Fox and Friends discussing bias at the University in 2018, Cornell student Neetu Chandak was subjected to harassment and threats of violence from fellow students. In a separate incident, the school’s Young Republicans President was physically assaulted after the 2016 election. Yet according to Jacobson, the radicalism has grown even more extreme since the protests began.
“Staying silent, hoping to get through your studies without political involvement, no longer is an option.” Jacobson said. “Your participation and involvement is demanded. ‘Silence is Violence’ is the new mantra. It is so much worse than political correctness, where at least if you kept quiet, you could escape attack.”
As it stands, Jacobson has given no indication he intends to back down from his beliefs. “A strong campus administrative commitment to open inquiry and debate is needed, not public shaming and denunciations of people who disagree.”
On Thursday, he publicly invited professors and students petitioning against him to a public debate so that he may address their positions face to face. Whether they accept his offer, and whether the administration bows to the mob, remain to be seen.