“Does academic freedom exist for white supremacist professors?” That’s how this book begins its argument for the thoroughgoing transformation of the American academy in favor of critical race theory. In It’s Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom, Penn State literature professor Michael Bérubé and Portland State film professor Jennifer Ruth apologize for their long-held commitment to liberal values. “To many younger scholars as well as scholars of color,” the authors lament, “ideals like academic freedom look like hazy, high-minded beliefs cherished by old white people oblivious to the ways in which right-wing provocateurs…have managed to weaponize the freedoms they enjoy.”

Weaponize? Yes: It’s Not Free Speech argues that conservatives have turned academic freedom against the old-school liberals who were historically its biggest defenders. Racist systems are being held up by liberal structures, preventing the liberation of oppressed people. “Two moral goods are potentially in conflict, or at least can be viewed as being in conflict: freedom of thought and freedom from discrimination.” Bérubé and Ruth posit that, by protecting white supremacist ideas under the guise of academic freedom and facilitating their spread in the name of free speech, well-meaning university administrators are continuing

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