Dear Mr. Bennet, Ms. Kingsbury, and Mr. Dao,

I am writing about Dr. Christina Paxson’s editorial in the New York Times, “College Campuses Must Reopen in the Fall. Here’s How We Do It.” As a university professor, I was flabbergasted by both the factual inaccuracy and narrow-minded vision of the editorial. The recommendations it advances are dangerous in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly so when published in as a prestigious forum as the NYT. I request that the NYT pull the article or at minimum conduct a review to fact-check it.

I describe my concerns about Dr. Paxson’s editorial in detail below. In brief, her analysis relies on a misrepresentation of the economic models of colleges and universities that obscures the role of endowments and public funding. This flawed premise provides the foundation for her argument that higher education must either re-open in the fall or fail. Such an “either/or” mentality is divorced from the reality of teaching in the pandemic. The fact is that many professors are working hard to offer high-quality education through virtual means, in large part by adopting creative teaching models that rethink the basic assumptions and practices of in-person classrooms: An endeavor that Dr. Paxson would do well to replicate. As a result of these factual and logical errors, Dr. Paxson proposes a solution that doesn’t address the real problems, which are a traumatized populace, a dearth of systematic faculty training in online teaching methods, and inequalities in terms of access to food, housing, and healthcare. …


Whiteness as a Relationship with Apocalypse

On bad nights, I wake up with white supremacists marching through my mind. Sometimes they carry torches, flames and half-lit faces circling in the darkness. Other times they surge forward in a phalanx of shields and clubs. They yell and chant. “Blood and soil. Blood and Soil.”

Perhaps that is why I’ve been thinking so much about one of their chants: “You will not replace us.”

Fascists say they fight to ensure that white people have a future. In this rhetoric, efforts to take down two Confederate statues in Charlottesville become conflated with an existential threat to “the white race.” …


Nonviolence, Militancy, and Care in the Ruins of White Supremacy and the Abandonments of the State

In anti-racist circles in Charlottesville, we sometimes talk about how August 12th seemed to throw us into a time warp. Some organizers say they felt like they were thrown back decades, into the 1960s or 1920s. Each hour seemed to stretch on endlessly as we faced militarized white supremacists, with their phalanx formations and marches that seemed to go on forever. Yet somehow, at the same time, everything was over in an instant.

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Memorial for Heather Heyer, on the street where the car hit

White supremacist violence on August 12th came as no surprise. Several weeks beforehand, anti-racist activists informed City Council that fascists were calling for violence in Charlottesville. We showed them posts from Alt-Right websites, written in fascists’ own words. Yet City Council did nothing. Our Mayor, Mike Signer, ignored our warnings and left us to deal with the fallout. …

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