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Silence of the Dons

July 15th, 2002

A letter to the Sunday Telegraph, the first two paragraphs of which were published in July 2002.

Your editorial “Silence of the Dons” is an absurd condemnation of University academic staff in general.  It is no more sensible to issue such blanket condemnations of 50,000 people than if I were to condemn the staff of the Sunday Telegraph for the actions of one of you.

Although I have held a Professorial Chair at UMIST longer than almost anyone else currently in post, until your article I had never heard of Prof Mona Baker, still less of the journals she edits.

While head of a large department with staff and students from all over the world including the Middle East, there was only one occasion when Arab-Israeli animosities surfaced.  This never recurred after I made it clear to those concerned that nothing of that sort would be tolerated.  Likewise as a reviewer for science the engineering journals with editorial boards drawn from all over the world, I have never heard of anyone being removed from these boards for anything whatever to do with their race or nationality or political views – if anyone knew or cared about them.