Prof walks back remarks about conservative group

A Virginia professor dismissed the idea of ‘free speech’ being of concern to conservatives on campus and called the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank, a “hate group.” The professor later deleted the “hate group” remark after Campus Reform contacted him. 

University of Richmond Assistant Professor of Sociology Eric Anthony Grollman published a blog on Sunday titled “Defending My “Right to Exist” As A Black, Queer, Transgender Professor At The University of Richmond,” branding The Heritage Foundation as a “hate group” and stating that the “war” on “conservative free speech” was “manufactured by the right-wing just like the ‘war on Christmas’.”

Grollman bills himself as a “black queer non-binary intellectual activist” who also founded “Conditionally-Accepted,” a blog that is committed to being “an anti-racist, pro-feminist, pro-queer, anti-transphobic, anti-fatphobic, anti-ableist, anti-ageist, anti-classist, and anti-xenophobic online community.”

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“The university will be rolling out the metaphorical red carpet to a research fellow [Ryan T. Anderson] at The Heritage Foundation,” the professor initially wrote in the blog, discussing an event hosted by UR Law School’s Federalist Society. “The Foundation is basically a hate group disguised as a think-tank, though they are public about their efforts to promote conservative public policy and ‘traditional American values.’”

Grollman erased his terming of The Heritage Foundation as a “hate group” after Campus Reform reached out for comment. His original post can be viewed here.

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Grollman cites an article from the outlet Think Progress, which alleges that Anderson’s book relies on “junk science” a term on which the professor elaborates by calling the book “garbage peddled to demonize transgender people as mentally ill, delusional, and a threat to the nation.”

The University of Richmond professor describes how he confronted fellow “UR faculty,” whose alleged “indifference to transphobic rhetoric is a reflection of cisgender privilege.”  

“It’s clear that [Anderson’s] talk is for cisgender individuals who want ‘scientific evidence’ to justify cissexist oppression,” Grollman claims. He substantiates his argument by saying that he is the “only out transgender-identified professor at UR.”

“The university is complicit in reinforcing the dominance of cisgender heterosexual viewpoints on campus, including those speakers who oppose LGBTQ rights (or even our existence),” he writes. 

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Grollman further claims that the “what about free speech?” discussion is intended to combat the effort to destroy “white supremacy, rape culture, and anti-LGBTQ oppression” at colleges. He compares the alleged undermining of conservative free speech to the “war on Christmas,” alleging that the Right fabricated both theories.

“Look around UR’s campus – whites, men, cisgender and heterosexual individuals, the wealthy, and conservatives are not under threat at UR,” the professor says. 

“The challenge of protecting the right to speak and be heard on campus is real, as this assistant professor’s attempt to shut down Ryan Anderson demonstrates,” Heritage Foundation spokeswoman Marguerite Bowling told Campus Reform. “The assistant professor is free to attend the talk or not. His desire to silence views with which he disagrees shouldn’t prevent the rest of the community from engaging in a respectful discussion about important issues like the sexual orientation and gender identity laws outlined” in Ryan’s work.

“The Heritage Foundation is committed to advancing our nation’s constitutional freedoms such as religious freedom and free speech and we would encourage all would-be censors to join us in that commitment,” Bowling added.

Grollman has written about race not just on his blog, but also on his Twitter feed.

“White folks are accusing me of being white to undermine my critique of racism and white privilege. Yes, my father is white, but identif[ies] as Black (sometimes mixed),” he said. “The very idea that my beautiful caramel-colored skin entitles me to whiteness today shows how whites have changed the rules of race.” 

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Campus Reform has reached out multiple times to The University of Richmond and Professor Grollman, but have not received responses from either. This story will be updated if and when a comment is received. 

Follow this author on Twitter: @Zach_Petrizzo