Seeing the headline of George F. Will’s March 9 op-ed, “Woke word-policing is now beyond satire,” I thought perhaps, at last, Mr. Will has written something I might agree with. Alas, no. Let us take a step back and consider that context is everything.
Mr. Will should use his immense privilege to call out the would-be autocrats who have the capacity to inflict serious harm on us all.
Karen Yudelson Sandler, Washington
George F. Will was not wrong to call attention in his March 9 op-ed to excesses in attempts to police language deemed harmful on college campuses, but he ignored the far more systematic and dangerous efforts of conservative activists and legislators to control what is said in public schools at all levels. Last year alone, 36 states introduced 137 bills designed to restrict discussion of “divisive concepts” related to “race, gender, American history and LGBTQ+ identities.”
In Florida, House Bill 999 would go even further in public colleges and universities by banning majors or minors in gender studies; defunding diversity, equity and inclusion programs; undermining tenure; and barring general education core courses from teaching “identity politics” or defining “American history as contrary to the creation of a new nation based on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”
Surely these efforts to dictate what is and is not said in public institutions of higher education, and to punish teachers who deviate from the prescribed orthodoxy, also deserved Mr. Will’s condemnation.
David Wippman, Clinton, N.Y.
The writer is president of Hamilton College.
Glenn C. Altschuler, Ithaca, N.Y.
The writer is professor of American studies at Cornell University.