Georgetown University professor Dr. C. Christine Fair has run afoul of the conservative press of late (see National Review and The Daily Caller) because of her social media use and going after a Trump supporter. Asra Nomani wrote a piece for The Washington Post explaining why a “liberal Muslim” voted for Donald Trump. As an avid critic of Trump, Dr. Fair took umbrage at Nomani’s advocacy for several reasons.
Dr. Fair tweeted at Nomani “f*** you,” “go to hell,” “I’ve written you off as a human being. Your vote helped normalize Nazis in DC. What don’t you understand you clueless dolt?” and “You are a fame-mongering clown show. You voted 4 a hateful bigot.” Anyone who follows Dr. Fair on Twitter or has met her in person knows her brashness and willingness to call the world as she sees it.
Nomani complained to Georgetown’s Security Studies Program and eventually filed a formal complaint with the School of Foreign Service that’s making its way to the Dean. She claims Dr. Fair violated the “Faculty Responsibilities Code” for voicing her private opinion in such a manner.
I got my MA from Georgetown’s Security Studies Program and took a class with Dr. Fair on South Asian security. She is brilliant and bombastic, erudite and acerbic, astute and witty. She fearlessly defends Western values of human dignity, democracy, liberty, and equality while continuously criticizing Pakistani behavior in the War on Terror and how the country treats its citizens. She will equally go after India when she thinks they have fallen short as well.
Dr. Fair’s impressive resume includes a B.S. in Biological Chemistry, an M.A. from the Harris School of Public Policy, as well as an M.A. and PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations all from the University of Chicago.
Her work on Pakistan is unrivaled by other scholars because she takes a perfectly clear-eyed view of the country, not seeing them through ideological lenses. She has written and co-edited several books, including Fighting to the End, Treading Softly on Sacred Ground, and Fortifying Pakistan. She also wrote a cheeky cook book with supplementary commentary on global politics. I mention her education and works to show that she is not some loon on the left, but a well-educated and respected scholar in security studies.
Amongst her colleagues and students, Dr. Fair is well-known to be liberal (if not to the left of the left of the Democratic Party), but she never lets her ideological bent interfere with her teaching. Despite several conversations we had about politics outside the classroom and knowing full well I was a right-wing Republican, I never felt like I was punished for giving my opinions in class, even when they differed with hers. She encouraged thoughtful debate based on reason, logic, and facts. Sentimentality had no place in the classroom.
That’s why these criticisms against her by conservatives are insidious at best and quite frankly hypocritical. First, conservatives are using Dr. Fair as an example of leftist indoctrination and “bullying” without knowing how she behaves on campus and with her students. Second, this was done entirely through Dr. Fair’s capacity as a private citizen, not in relation to her employment as a professor. It has absolutely nothing to do with her scholarship or teaching. This means it should not affect her employment, something conservatives have consistently advocated. Not letting politics and opinions get one fired. Finally, conservatives laud people like Milo Yiannopoulos for the exact same behavior, but find it repugnant when a liberal does it? That’s hypocrisy.
Nomani should also stiffen her spine. She wrote an op-ed in a newspaper, but she can’t handle being a public figure? That’s what happens when you step out into the spotlight. People might not say nice things about you. Not everyone is going to be pleasant and happy with your opinions. Sometimes they might even tell you to “go to hell.” Get over it.