David Miller and Bristol University

Submitted by AWL on 5 October, 2021 - 10:33 Author: Chris Reynolds
David Miller

David Miller was sacked on 1 October from his academic job at Bristol University.

The tight-lipped university statement explicitly refused to give details, but said that in light of the University’s “duty of care to all students”, “Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff”.

Miller is appealing, but has given no details either, claiming only that “Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the university collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students”.

Almost all the objections to Miller being sacked have been from people endorsing his reactionary view of the world being run by “Israeli lobbies” through “Israel’s assets” (Jewish people who have empathy with Israel, however critical).

Other objections are possible. Up to 1933 Germany was and had long been the world’s foremost centre of mathematics. After Hitler’s victory, almost all the leading mathematicians fled. One exception: Helmut Hasse. Hasse was a good mathematician, but also a nationalist. He tried to join the Nazi party. He was refused because of distant Jewish connections, but remained pro-Nazi. After 1945 he was sacked from his university job by the British occupation authorities in the name of denazification. He found academic jobs in East Berlin, where the Russian occupiers were less fussy, until 1950, when he could move to Hamburg. Better if the British had allowed him to stay in post. Academic freedom, the right for qualified researchers to keep their jobs even if they have despicable politics, is important.

The university insists that it respects academic freedom, and suggests it has moved against Miller only because of his personal behaviour towards Jewish students.

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