Top College News Subscribe to the Newsletter

Letter: Faculty says Walter Block's claims were, once again, untrue and offensive

Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014

Updated: Friday, February 7, 2014 09:02

Dear Editors,
As Loyola faculty members in the African and African American Studies program, Center for Intercultural Understanding, Twomey Center and Jesuit Social Research Institute programs at the forefront of Loyola’s longstanding dedication to racial and social justice, we have devoted ourselves to teaching students about the violence, cruelty, and humiliation inflicted upon black people during the more than four centuries of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the civil rights movement and the legacy of that injustice today. Given this commitment, we are outraged over the views espoused by Loyola economics professor Walter Block in a recent New York Times article. In a Jan. 25, front-page story on the libertarian political philosophy of Sen. Rand Paul, Block not only attacks the legitimacy and constitutionality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act but also dismisses the institution of slavery as “not so bad.”

While Block might have the academic freedom to teach such ahistorical and hostile beliefs in his own economics classroom, these claims — expressed to a reporter for a nationwide newspaper article — are an insult to millions of African Americans in this country as well as to the pain and suffering incurred by both black and white people in their struggle to gain the same basic American freedoms that Professor Block enjoys today as a privileged white male.

Indeed, Dr. Block might educate himself on the reality of American slavery beyond his understanding that the lack of free association was the major problem with slavery.

“The slaves could not quit. They were forced to ‘associate’ with their masters when they would have vastly preferred not to do so. Otherwise, slavery wasn’t so bad. You could pick cotton, sing songs, be fed nice gruel, etc. The only real problem was that this relationship was compulsory,” said Block in his “Reply to the Scurrilous, Libelous, Venomous, Scandalous New York Times Smear Campaign” on LewRockwell.com
Significant scholarship on slavery illuminates quite a different experience and set of problems related to slavery. Traders in human flesh kidnapped men, women and children from the interior of the African continent and marched them in stocks to the coast. Snatched from their families, these individuals awaited an unknown but decidedly terrible future. Often for as long as three months enslaved people sailed west, shackled and mired in the feces, urine, blood and vomit of the other wretched souls on the boat. For many, their desperation became so deep, they deemed suicide and infanticide as viable alternatives to a life of enslavement. After arriving in North America, labor, coercion and violence always occupied the same space.

While the lack of free association did indeed characterize antebellum slavery in the U.S., the ownership of humans as property is merely one of the incontrovertibly unacceptable aspects of slavery. The violation of human dignity, the radical exploitation of people’s labor, the brutal violence that slaveholders utilized to maintain power, the disenfranchisement of American citizens, the destruction of familial bonds, the pervasive sexual assault and the systematic attempts to dehumanize an entire race all mark slavery as an intellectually, economically, politically and socially condemnable institution no matter how, where, or when it is practiced.

At a time when Loyola University New Orleans is working diligently to recruit every qualified freshman student it can attract and enroll this fall, Block’s indefensible comments, printed in the national edition of the Sunday New York Times no less, hampers the university’s efforts to recruit the most accomplished and diverse students it can from across the U.S.

Moreover, this is not the first time that his disregard for socio-historical truth has proven to be an embarrassment to many of the faculty at this institution.

We the undersigned urge the university to take the long overdue and necessary steps to condemn and censure Professor Block for his recurring public assaults on the values of Loyola University, its mission and the civil rights of all Americans. In so doing, Loyola University must reaffirm our commitment to pursue truth, wisdom and virtue — and most importantly to work for a more just world. 

THIS LETTER TO THE EDITOR WAS SUBMITTED BY:

Laura Murphy
Chair of the African and African American Studies Program
Assistant Professor of English

Anthony E. Ladd
Professor of Sociology

Barbara Ewell
Professor of English

Charles Corprew
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Laura Hope
Associate Professor of Theater

Kathleen Fitzgerald
Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology

Angel Parham
Associate Professor of Sociology


Ashley Howard
Assistant Professor of History

Trimiko Melancon
Assistant Professor of English


Alex Mukulich
Jesuit Social Research Institute

Patricia Boyett
Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Julie Thibodaux, J.D.

Interim Director,
Women’s Resource Center

Nicole Eggers
Assistant Professor of History

Ted Quant,
Director, Twomey Center
for Peace and Justice
Susan Weishar
Jesuit Social Research Institute

Alvaro Alcazar
Twomey Center and Loyola Institute for Ministry

Lisa Martin
Director, Center for Intercultural Understanding
Department of Communications

Judith Hunt,
Associate Dean,
College of Humanities and Natural Sciences Department of History
 

Recommended: Articles that may interest you

kldimond
Tue Feb 25 2014 12:03
Isn't it interesting that all these degreed, allegedly edumacated folks don't grasp that all those horrors could not have been, were it not for the involuntary nature of slavery!

Let's see, I'm keeping track of the universities that have failed at intellectual rigor and integrity. The list is getting long and includes Harvard and many lesser institutions, for quacky science, quacky history, an inability to parse logic and other actions on a par with Loyola's reaction to Block. Is getting a degree any--at all??--more than buying membership in a club of privilege?

It's about time that degreed or nondegreed be considered an illegal classification, disallowed as improperly discriminatory in the selection of personnel. I mean, isn't it obvious that it doesn't imply anything meaningful?

anonymous
Thu Feb 20 2014 23:36
Speaktruth (if you can do such a thing) have you ever met Dr. Block? Have you ever read any of his many publications? Have you ever attended any of his many lectures and discussions. If not, how can you say the things you said in your comment, and I quote you, "he is an angry, bigoted, and radical apologist for the return of sweatshops, the return of racial segregation..." You obviously know nothing about Dr. Block except what you hear from other radical liberals and read in the (gulp) New York Times. I have studied with him and know how little you obviously know about him and how little truth you speak. He is one of the most intelligent, kind, and scholarly professors I have had the pleasure of studying with. Too bad there are so many Loyola professors that can't come close to Dr. Block as a scholar, teacher, and researcher. .
Speaktruth
Thu Feb 20 2014 19:36
ProfSaliba said: " I happen to believe that government is the root of all evil and history bears me out on this."

Just curious, what color is the sky in your world ??

Rocco
Thu Feb 20 2014 15:26
There's a South Park episode where Stan becomes the coach of a children's ice hockey team. One young boy is not at practice - he has cancer, and is very near to death. Stan visits him in hospital and asks, "How are you doing?" The boy, evidently in a great deal of pain, replies, "Pretty good [weak cough]. Apart from the cancer." Now this is a good joke and all, but I doubt any of the faculty at Loyola would take this as a ringing endorsement of having cancer.
ProfSaliba
Thu Feb 20 2014 11:31
Speaktruth you need to change your name because it suggests that you speak the truth when in fact you DO NOT. You sound like one of the writers of the letter to the Maroon. You as well as the other signers of that letter do not know of what you write. You modern liberals that dominate Loyola and other universities demean those with whom you disagree. I happen to believe that government is the root of all evil and history bears me out on this. In fact, it was governments in Africa and later in the U.S. that condoned slavery. Now the U.S. government is trying to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, in spite of the fact that just this week the CBO estimates an increase in unemployment of 500,000 people if the do-gooders in Washington, including Obama and most members of the Democratic party, have their way. Finally, you obviously do not know much about Dr. Block because if you did, you would not write the trash that appeared in your letter. Go do something productive with your time, if that is possible.
Speaktruth
Thu Feb 20 2014 01:04
Logroll much? Once again, Dr. Block gets criticized for saying something absolutely moronic, and out of the woodwork crawls the same group of anarchist, anti-government, paranoiacs trying to drown out that criticism with wildly overblown praise of Dr. Block, and ad hominem attacks on anyone who points out the truth about Dr. Block, i.e., he is an angry, bigoted, and radical apologist for the return of sweatshops, the return of racial segregation, and the elimination of all worker rights such as the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor laws, etc.

These same supporters repeatedly post similarly shrill defenses of Dr. Block on other websites catering to extreme libertarian / tea party views. In fact, the similarity of the fatuous praise of Dr. Block might lead one to believe that all of these posts come from the the same person posting under different names - have you been busy, Dr. Block?

mattn
Sun Feb 16 2014 17:44
How profoundly sad it is that the cosigners of this statement, and undoubtedly countless others who think the same way, would besmirch a man who would undoubtedly have been an abolitionist during the era of slavery. And they do so for no other reason than they cannot comprehend what he is saying - or even worse, refuse to comprehend.

I quote the letter above:

"Significant scholarship on slavery illuminates quite a different experience and set of problems related to slavery."

And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was made possible because of compulsion. The ENTIRETY of the "set of problems" that you identify were only possible because of, and direct extensions of, the use of violent coercion to force people to experience them. Had that coercion not existed, those degradations would not have occurred, for people would simply have removed themselves from the situation.

One wonders what the motives of these individuals are.... What possible reason could they have to attack Dr. Block for asserting that involuntary servitude was the worst factor of slavery? Even if they disagree, is there really much benefit to be had by slamming an individual who is - by their own admission - CONDEMNING SLAVERY? Somehow I think Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks might not have found that tactic wise.

But I'll answer my own question: I do believe I know their motive, though I suspect it is deeply buried within them and they will not admit it to themselves: Humanities departments in universities are generally very keen on using state power to force people to bend to their will. Granted, they believe they do so for the benefit of all, and to correct wrongs. But, nevertheless, the appeal to coercion is there. Dr. Block links coercion - of any kind - to slavery, and therefore to them. And that is more self-realization than they can stomach.

The cosigners of this letter are not arguing against Dr. Block. They argue against themselves.

mattn
Sun Feb 16 2014 11:33
How profoundly sad it is that the cosigners of this statement, and undoubtedly countless others who think the same way, would besmirch a man who would undoubtedly have been an abolitionist during the era of slavery. And they do so for no other reason than they cannot comprehend what he is saying - or even worse, refuse to comprehend.

I quote the letter above:

"Significant scholarship on slavery illuminates quite a different experience and set of problems related to slavery."

And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM was made possible because of compulsion. The ENTIRETY of the "set of problems" that you identify were only possible because of, and direct extensions of, the use of violent coercion to force people to experience them. Had that coercion not existed, those degradations would not have occurred, for people would simply have removed themselves from the situation.

One wonders what the motives of these individuals are.... What possible reason could they have to attack Dr. Block for asserting that involuntary servitude was the worst factor of slavery? Even if they disagree, is there really much benefit to be had by slamming an individual who is - by their own admission - CONDEMNING SLAVERY? Somehow I think Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks might not have found that tactic wise.

But I'll answer my own question: I do believe I know their motive, though I suspect it is deeply buried within them and they will not admit it to themselves: Humanities departments in universities are generally very keen on using state power to force people to bend to their will. Granted, they believe they do so for the benefit of all, and to correct wrongs. But, nevertheless, the appeal to coercion is there. Dr. Block links coercion - of any kind - to slavery, and therefore to them. And that is more self-realization than they can stomach.

The cosigners of this letter are not arguing against Dr. Block. They argue against themselves.

psw003
Sat Feb 15 2014 15:34
headline :Loyola professors think forced servitude is OK, as long as the force used is not excessively harsh or demeaning.
BobRoddis
Thu Feb 13 2014 16:51
I have been a libertarian since I was 22 in 1973 and have been reading Prof. Block's outstanding writings for 41 years. The fundamental concept of libertarianism is the absolute prohibition upon the initiation of force. Whatever other attributes one might think up about slavery, the most important IS THAT YOU ARE FORCED TO BE A SLAVE, YOU CANNOT QUIT, and your life and body are no longer in your control. On the other hand, if you are free to leave, and you, your family, friends and property are IN FACT all safe from the initiation of violence, you have now solved the problem of slavery. That such a simple and self evident truth must be purposefully distorted by university instructors is horrifying. As I said for years, no non-libertarian seems to be able to engage the simple (but profound) concept of the libertarian non-aggression principle.
BobRoddis
Thu Feb 13 2014 16:31
I have been a libertarian since I was 22 in 1973 and have been reading Prof. Block's outstanding writings for 41 years. The fundamental concept of libertarianism is the absolute prohibition upon the initiation of force. Whatever other attributes one might think up about slavery, the most important IS THAT YOU ARE FORCED TO BE A SLAVE, YOU CANNOT QUIT, and your life and body are no longer in your control. On the other hand, if you are free to leave, and you, your family, friends and property are IN FACT all safe from the initiation of violence, you have now solved the problem of slavery. That such a simple and self evident truth must be purposefully distorted by university instructors is horrifying. As I said for years, no non-libertarian seems to be able to engage the simple (but profound) concept of the libertarian non-aggression principle.
Anonymous
Wed Feb 12 2014 17:36
"but also dismisses the institution of slavery as "not so bad."

That is a bold faced lie. He did not - and would never (AND YOU ALL KNOW THIS!) "dismiss" the institution of slavery! He abhors the institution of slavery with every fiber of his being. He was making a distinction (I know it's a big word for you phony intellectuals to handle, but go look it up) between the WORK of the slaves and nature of the RELATIONSHIP between slave and master. His perfectly logical point here was that it was not the work but the nature of the relationship which constitutes the essence of slavery. How is it possible you all can claim not to understand such a simple point? If you are capable of grasping the point, then do you disagree with it? How would you disagree without coming off as completely irrational? You would assert that yes, indeed, working in the fields is slavery under any circumstance while the nature of the relationship between the parties has no relevance? Really? If you say he was wrong, then this is what you must hold. And if you hold this, then you are all obviously completely irrational.

How anti-intellectual can you people get to purposely ignore the point a man is making when he contrasts one thing with another?!? Are your brains too small to hold two thoughts together at the same time? If so, why are pretending to be teachers? What could people like you possibly teach anyone if you can't grasp the basic mechanics of argument?

If I worked for this faux-Catholic university and I spoke about the distinctions to be made in various acts of violence, would you accuse me then of "dismissing" violence? I can see it now. I give a simple statement which considers the same act of violence in two different contexts, one justified and one not, and you people condemn me as condoning violence! It wouldn't matter to any of you that one act was in self-defense against an aggressor while the other was an initiation of violence against an innocent party. No, you people are so incomprehensibly obtuse and simply out for mischief so much that you would claim I support violence and that I am therefore an offense to everyone who has ever suffered violence. And no amount of logic could convince you otherwise.

I thank God that I went to a real Catholic school and not one of these fake ones that are really fronts for some other agenda. I'm afraid to even look into what other garbage the president and these faculty members spew on a regular basis. This incident with Walter Block has told me all I need to know about this group.

DesertBunny
Wed Feb 12 2014 17:29
Are these learned scholars behind this letter or a pretentious mob?
Anonymous
Wed Feb 12 2014 17:00
If those flop faculty members that signed this bogus letter (which I will save and use in the future to guarantee I am never taught by any of those flukes) have the audacity to read the comments on either article... I think it is safe to say that they have been scalped repeatedly by those who are actually educated. I have never been more embarrassed to attend Loyola than I am now. I might ramble further but I think the dozens of comments here have already proven the point I would also make. Professors, please collect your wigs that we have so handily snatched at the door on the way out!
Israel Cisternas
Wed Feb 12 2014 16:49
Is this latter a complete joke? This latter pretty much sums up what i'v been saying. If your for the civil rights act of 1964 then you are for slavery. This law makes it compulsory to associate with people you do not want to associate with. You know by force. How is this any different from slavery? Lets say i refuse to follow this civil rights act law, and say well i don't want african on my property, or don't want germans in my property. Now what would happen to me? I would be imprisoned and probably beaten if i resisted arrest. I may even get shot and killed for not complying, so i say again: how is this any different then slavery? I get taxed without my permission. I only get the money from my own labour the USG 'slave masters' allow me to keep. Should i say again how is this any different then slavery?

Walter Block is a mighty ant-slavery man so i don't get why you show that you agree with him in this letter then say that he should be fired or something like that. This whole issue about getting rid of some people you don't like is childish. I can see this whole issue seems to be about 'which group of homeboys stays employed at Loyola' instead of actual true accusations about anything that makes any sense. I'm guessing the one group writing this letter wants to stay employed at loyola, and are willing to lie and smear to do it. They seem to be willing to sell their souls and kiss Sir Wildes hands. Isn't their a word for these kinds of people? Oh i know, boutlickers..

Anonymous
Wed Feb 12 2014 16:32
Wow. A bunch of lying, slandering idiots sign a letter to "censure" someone for making simple distinctions about the nature of the institution of slavery! If this is not a perfect picture of the Orwellian world we live in, I don't know what is. The true irony, of course, is that Walter Block probably stands alone among all of these nitwits who signed their names here as someone who ACTUALLY opposes involuntary servitude of every kind. I can guarantee that most or all of these "professors" will flat out deny that human beings have the right to be free and own the fruit of their labor. Most or all of these signers likely have no problem with robbing people en masse, putting them into multi-generational debt, and/or forcing them to work for others against their will. They are most likely dyed-in-the-wool statists who knowingly support every conceivable kind of trespass against individual liberty if it serves the agenda of their true god, the State.

Loyola does not seem to stand for Catholic Christian values at all. I'm sick of seeing such perversions of truth and honor at Catholic schools. If you people are truly not Catholic and not committed to Christian values, then please don't continue the farce of claiming that you are. This inexcusable witch hunt against Walter Block is absolutely disgusting. You are all such committed liars and deceivers that you can't even put your accusations against him into comprehensible English. You all know very well what the man stands for, and you can look up exactly what he said. Block is not guilty of any offense against anyone here, nor did he make any logical errors in the two points that are cited. What clearly is happening is that you are falsely accusing him based on the intentional misreading and twisting of his words.

Anonymous
Wed Feb 12 2014 15:00
Del-GA-Do has become more prestigious than Loyola New Orleans, evidence is in this letter and in enrollment. The school is slowly being purged of every administrator and faculty member which disagrees with Wildes' top down communist progressive agenda. It is just a matter of time before Wildes has the Maroon hunt down the identity of posters. The man and his puppets named in this letter have got to go if you want this university to exist in 10 years.
Anonymous
Wed Feb 12 2014 09:12
The fact that none of the ignorant jerks on the faculty who signed this libelous letter has responded to any of these comments is further proof that they are not in the least interested in honest scholarly discourse but are merely hateful political ideologues and enemies of free speech and academic freedom. Sending your kid to Loyola University-New Orleans is a form of child abuse.
JD/MBA 2010
Tue Feb 11 2014 22:09
I call for all the lazy idiots who did not even bother to read Block's essay before signing this sorry excuse of a letter to be fired. And you wonder why enrollment is down and why alumni support is near all time lows, look at the crazies teaching at the school.
Anonymous
Tue Feb 11 2014 19:21
Loyola Faculty,

Did you not do an internal investigation and listen to all sides of the story before you wrote this editorial (for instance, reach out to Professor Block and get his side of the story)?

At least read this piece and watch this video - tomwoods dot com/blog/jesuit-university-attacks-libertarian-professor-i-respond.

You must be logged in to comment on an article. Not already a member? Register now

Log In