Academic Freedom up for Debate After Hamline College Drama
Controversy surrounding an art history professor displaying a painting of the Islamic prophet Muhammad raises questions about academic freedom and cultural respect.
For Context: At Hamline University in Minnesota, a professor’s contract was not renewed after they showed a painting of Muhammad in an art history class, which led a Muslim student to complain. Hamline University President Fayneese Miller defended the college’s actions in a letter, stating, “fueled by commentary not well-informed on the particulars of this situation, we now find ourselves at the heart of a purported standoff between academic freedom and equity.” Visually depicting Muhammad is typically avoided in Muslim culture.
Writers across the spectrum agreed that the professor shouldn't be fired. One right-rated writer said that "if you don’t want your traditions, beliefs, or views challenged, then don’t come to a university." A writer in the American Spectator (Right Bias) concluded that “to limit free speech in order to avoid offending Muslims is, quite simply, to replace American constitutional liberty with a concept of freedom rooted in sharia.”
A piece in MSNBC also ridiculed the college’s actions, but criticized narratives from right-rated writers claiming the college gave into the “woke mob,” determining that “as often happens with academic dust-ups, it doesn’t track along a neat left/right axis.” The writer compared the incident to calls for religious freedom in schools from the Christian right, determining, “couldn’t our Christian Right get behind more respect for Religious Authority in the classroom by that same logic?”
Featured Coverage of this Story
From the LeftHamline University’s free speech controversy shows the collapse of the professoriate
The recent controversy surrounding a Hamline University art history professor who showed her class a medieval image of the Prophet Muhammad has many on the right bemoaning the “woke mob” run amok. I, by contrast, view this episode as evidence of the collapse of the American professoriate from within its own ranks, so to speak. We, the professors, have met the enemy. In many instances, as I’ll explain below, the enemy is us.
Let’s start with the dismal specifics of the case. Dr. Erika López Prater received her doctorate in...
From the CenterPetition Supporting Professor Fired for Islamophobia Signed by Thousands
A petition supporting the re-instatement of a professor who was fired by an arts college for showing depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, which is strictly forbidden for many practicing Muslims, has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
Erika López Prater was dismissed by Hamline University in November for including in her class discussion a medieval Islamic painting of the prophet receiving Quranic revelations, which features in the manuscript copy of Rashid al-Din's Compendium of Chronicles dating back to 14th century Iran. The private liberal arts college is based in Minnesota.
From the RightAcademic Freedom Is Not a Matter of Opinion
Unless you follow academic politics, you might have missed the recent controversy at Hamline University, a small private college in St. Paul, Minnesota. The short version is that a professor named Erika López Prater showed students in her global-art-history class a 14th-century painting depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Aware that many Muslims regard such images as sacrilege, she warned ahead of time that she was going to show the picture and offered to excuse any student who did not want to view it.
Professor López Prater’s contract has not been renewed,...
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