ERIC Number: EJ863684
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: 22
Discretion over Valor: The AAUP during the McCarthy Years
Aby, Stephen H.
American Educational History Journal, v36 n1 p121-132 2009
In recent years, there has been considerable and renewed interest in the effects of McCarthyism on academia. Ellen Schrecker's "No Ivory Tower" (1986), Lionel Lewis' "Cold War on Campus" (1988), David Holmes' "Stalking the Academic Communist" (1989), Charles McCormick's "This Nest of Vipers" (1989), Neil Hamilton's "Zealotry and Academic Freedom" (1995), and David Price's "Threatening Anthropology" (2004) all amply demonstrate how politicians, university administrators, and many faculty readily sacrificed academic freedom and civil liberties to rid America of subversives, to protect their own jobs, or to save the reputations and funding of their universities. Arguably, academic freedom has never been as much at risk as it was during this period. But where was the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) while this was going on? Founded in 1915 as a professional association of faculty, the AAUP had developed the mechanism and the wherewithal to investigate colleges and universities that had violated standards of academic freedom and due process. Surely this set of circumstances, in which individuals exercising their academic rights or protesting academic freedom violations were vulnerable at their own institutions, was just what the AAUP was intended to address. Yet by all accounts the AAUP was derelict in fulfilling these responsibilities during the most crucial years and cases of the McCarthy period. The conventional explanation for this points the blame primarily at one individual. Yet there is evidence that the AAUP's timidity and acquiescence was more systemic and broadly rooted in faculty attitudes toward Communists. This paper is an attempt to make that case and provides an alternative analysis for the AAUP's absence.
Descriptors: Professional Associations, College Faculty, United States History, Behavior, Fear, Social Systems, Patriotism, Political Attitudes, Political Influences, Social Influences, Higher Education, Academic Freedom, Politics of Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
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