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A Princeton alumni statement of support for the rights of Professor Joshua T. Katz

Witherspoon statue no caption
Photo courtesy of © Richard Trenner ’70

Note: this statement was delivered to Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber, along with Provost Deborah Prentice and Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni, on July 16, 2020. It was acknowledged in a personal email by President Eisgruber on July 17.

A Princeton Alumni Statement of Support for the Rights of Professor Joshua T. Katz


Dr. Joshua T. Katz, Professor of Classics and Cotsen Professor in the Humanities, offered a serious and considered critique in publishing his recent article, “A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor” in Quillette on July 8, 2020. Professor Katz wrote in reply to a “Faculty Letter” of July 4, 2020.

The purpose of the university is the pursuit of truth and the propagation of knowledge among a community of scholars — teachers, students, and researchers — who are committed to these ideals for their own sake. It is Princeton University’s noble tradition also to pursue these aims “in the nation’s service and in the service of all humanity.” Professor Katz’s intervention was entirely in accord with these ideals.

Some members of the Princeton community have condemned Professor Katz, because they disagree with his criticisms of the “Faculty Letter” or take issue with his blunt language; but we, the undersigned, commend Professor Katz for a legitimate contribution to the debates over racial justice currently sweeping through our cultural institutions. The charge made by a statement posted on the website of the Department of Classics that Professor Katz’s remarks are “fundamentally incompatible with [the university’s] mission and values as educators” is demonstrably false. We remind the Princeton community that, according to its own charter principles,

… it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community (1.1.3 Statement on Freedom of Expression, Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities, Princeton University, 2020.  Emphasis added.).

Moreover, we believe the accusation that Professor Katz’s remarks put “Black colleagues, students, and alums at serious risk” is entirely unfounded.  Racial injustice, always and everywhere, deserves swift repudiation and comprehensive remedy, and Professor Katz asserted this in his article. Regardless of whether the particular conclusions he draws are correct or not, or whether his chosen language is hyperbolic, he has made a worthwhile contribution that other members of the University community should engage with rather than condemn.

Note: Names appear in alphabetical order and institutions appear for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsement of this letter.



Idir Aitsahalia ’18

Ryan T. Anderson ’04, Ph.D., Teaching Fellow, The University of Dallas

Paul C. Atkinson ’74

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Tibor Baranski, Jr. ’80

Roy F. Baumeister ’74, *78, Professor, University of Queensland, Australia

Brian J. Beck ’05

Richard W. Benson ’69

Michael Berger ’00

Deborah Bernstein ’75, M.D. 

Amos Bitzan ’03, Ph.D.

David I. Bledsoe ’80

John Brittain ’59

Elly Brown ’18

John P. Burgess ’69, Ph.D.

Cole Bunzel ’08, *18

Jill Kraft Butler ’86, M.D. 

Edwin A. Carbajal ’14

Olga Chin ’05  

John Paul Chou ’02, Associate Professor, Rutgers University

Joseph Conlon *16, Ph.D.

Chris Corcoran ’86

Katherine (Raymond) Crow ’89

Peter Ditto *86, Professor, University of California, Irvine

Kirk Doran *08, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame

John Edwards ’08

Gerhard Eger ’14

Jason H. Elbaum ’92

Anthony M. Esolen ’81, Professor, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts

Doug Esson ’63

Simina M. Farcasiu ’83 

David Frankfurter *90

Andrew Gabriele ’11  

Will Garwood ’79

Deborah Campbell Garwood ’79

Darren Geist ’05

John Gibbs ’68

Alla Gil P’01

Daniel Gilbert *85, Ph.D., Professor, Harvard University

Leo Goldmakher ’04, Ph.D.

Natalie (Scholl) Goodnow ’13

Ross Granowski *18 

Daniel Greenidge ’18 

Raffi Grinberg ’12

Stephen R. Griscom ’99

Robert Gustafson ’75

Samatha (Kors) Harris ’99 

John P. Hawkins ’83 

Yoram Hazony ’86, Edmund Burke Foundation

M. Todd Henderson ’93, Michael J. Marks Professor of Law, University of Chicago

William E. Hewitt ’74

Dan Himmelfarb ’87

Charles Horner P’96

Thomas Z. Horton ’15, Columbia Law School *21

Alexander Hwang ’11

Esther Hwang ’83

Jonathan Hwang ’09

Melissa Hwang ’09

William Hwang ’84

David Jacobson *91

James P. Jordan ’63

Nicholas R. Karp ’84 

Michael Kassen ’76

Leor Klainerman ’14

Aryeh (Leonid) Kontorovich ’01, Department of Computer Science, Ben-Gurion University

Vladimir Kontorovich, P’01, Professor of Economics, Haverford College

Alan Charles Kors ’64, Henry Charles Lea Professor Emeritus of History, University of Pennsylvania

Gordon Kotik ’79

Michael Kotschenreuther *83, Ph.D.

Craig J. Lazzara ’75

Mary Lincer ’83  

Margaret Fortney Luccarelli ’13

Daniel Mark ’03, *13, Ph.D.

Heidi Mathey ’98

Roderic Mathey ’95

Andrew McDermott ’92

Kenneth B. McIntyre ’88, Professor of Political Science, Sam Houston State University

André P. Mendoza ’20

Kellie (Maul) Miller ’01

Louis Miller *94, Ph.D.

Bill Milvaney ’75

Margarita A. Mooney *05, Associate Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary

Marlene Morgan ’12

Mitchell S. Muncy ’90

Matthew B. O’Brien ’03, Ph.D., Board of Directors, American Philosophical Association

Mark B. O’Brien ’73, Lecturer, Department of Politics, Princeton University

Sev Onyshkevych ’83

Evan O'Reilly ’08

Susan Patton ‘77 

Alex Petkas *19, Ph.D.

Douglas E. Phillips ’77

Francis R. Pickering ’04

Todd R. Quackenbush ’80, *87

Nathan Quinn ’16

Ethan M. Rasiel ’86

Sheldon J. Reaven ’69, Ph.D.

Jurgen Reinhoudt ’06, Ph.D.

Jacob Reses ’13

Mark (Rudy) Reudelhuber ’93

Lev Reyzin ’05, Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Chicago  

Matthew P. Rubach ’02, Associate Professor of Medicine, Duke University and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre

Matthew O. Sanyour, Esq. ’11 

Steven R. Schoenfeld ’87

Julie Silcock ’78

William H. Smith *66, Professor, Washington University in St. Louis

Mikhael Smits ’18

Marc Sole ’93 

Fr. B. Henry Stephan, O.P. ’11

Stuart Taylor, Jr. ’70

John F. Tedeman ’00

Nicholas Teh ’05, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Paul Thompson ’06

Michael J. Scharf ’64

Matthew Schmitz ’08, Senior Editor for First Things

Marc Segan ’77

Ilya Shapiro ’99 

Akhil Sharma ’92

Harvey A. Silverglate ’64, Criminal Defense and Civil Liberties Attorney

Kathleen T. Spinnenweber *97, Professor, Franciscan University of Steubenville

William Thorsell *72, M.P.A.

Katharina Volk *99, Professor of Classics, Columbia University

Jon L. Watterson ’01

Asher Weiss ’02

Timothy West *17, Ph.D.

Charlotte Whelan ’19

John Whelan ’19

Richard C. Woodbridge ’65