A professor at Nova Scotia’s Acadia University who is under investigation for “racist and homophobic comments” says the accusations are part of a social justice agenda aimed at silencing debate.
Professor Rick Mehta, who is an Indo-Canadian, told The Daily Caller Monday that he was subject to racist attacks as a youth and so is sensitive to the issue.
“As an East Indian, I was hated by both the English and the French,” he says.
Mehta does admit to criticizing Canada’s official multiculturalism policy, questioning whether there is any such thing as a gender wage gap and rejecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to create a separate justice system for First Nations peoples.
“This will create massive racial unrest in Canada,” he said of the Trudeau decision. “People expect that the rules of the road should be the same for everyone.”
Acadia launched an investigation into some student complaints by hiring professor Wayne MacKay from Dalhousie University’s law school, who will assess the validity of the accusations and report back with recommendations.
Mehta says he doubts the university will be able to fire him but does believe it wants to silence him. He says universities are failing students and free speech by pursuing a social justice agenda.
“What they’re saying is that you can have your academic freedom, but the way they get around that is with university policy — so you’re allowed to debate anything you like, but it can’t violate university policy,” Mehta says.
“They’re replacing curriculum with a social justice perspective.”
Mehta refers to a Feb. 26 letter that he received from an Acadia department head who admits that students who have complained about Mehta’s views have offered no specific examples of what has offended them.
“The students have not expressed in writing the precise details of the racist and transphobic comments, but it is clear from their interactions with me that they are extremely disturbed by your comments, some to the point of not going to class,” wrote professor Rob Raeside.
Since the investigation began, some Canadian academics have come to Mehta’s defense, arguing that he has the right to say what he believes because it might actually promote thought, debate and discussion in the classroom.
Mark Mercer, who is president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship objects to silencing a teacher just because his ideas are not accepted by everyone in his class.
“I have read many of Dr. Mehta’s postings and it is difficult to see how anything in them could be construed as discriminatory or harassing,” he noted in a letter to Acadia. “If Dr. Mehta’s ideas are false or pernicious, they could be shown to be so through discussion and better ideas.”