Dr Devin Buckley was due to speak at Harvard University this month about his work on British Romanticism and philosophy, although that talk has now been cancelled.
On April 18, Buckley was informed that her conference had been cancelled, citing her membership on the board of directors of the Women’s Liberation Front “WoLF” which they say is “an organization that takes a public stance regarding trans people as dangerous and misleading”.
“WoLF opposes this blatantly false characterization of our work, as well as Harvard’s blatant disregard for free speech. Dr. Buckley’s original speech had nothing to do with her feminist beliefs,” the statement said. organization in a press release.
While the group states on their website that “gender cannot be reformed – it must be abolished”, they are proponents of advocating for women-only spaces, including domestic violence shelters, prisons, women’s sports, restrooms and locker rooms.
They also “support detransitioners in their fight to be healed and heard.”
In a letter Harvard sent to Buckley, they said she engages in the public sphere “more like a polemicist than a romantic.”
“I have bad news,” the letter began. “As we were preparing next year’s funding application, my coordinator Googled you to include the correct information about you on the application.
“She was surprised to find that your public profile is largely rooted in controversial issues regarding trans identity and that you are on the board of an organization that takes a public stance regarding trans people as dangerous and deceptive. Since you primarily engage in the public sphere as more of a polemicist than a romantic, this puts the symposium and the department and myself in a difficult position,” the letter continues.
“once they learn of your online presence.”
“Really, it’s not so much because of your own personal beliefs about trans identity. It’s more about the public stance you’ve taken and how you’ve recently created a professional presence around these matters,” the letter reads.
“I am so sorry that we cannot extend the formal invitation I promised you. You have done cutting edge work in the study of romanticism and religion. Perhaps we can find another kind of engagement elsewhere in the future.” he added.
In a response letter, Buckley acknowledged that the author of the anonymous letter may have “forced you to be the bearer of bad news” and that “I don’t blame you for that, because I guess you don’t ‘don’t necessarily approve of Harvard’s decision’. .”
“You are still my friend and my brilliant colleague. Of course, I will not ask you to explain your point of view, for fear you risk cancellation as well,” she wrote.
Buckley said his disinvitation was disappointing, “not only because I would have loved to give a talk on poetry and philosophy, but because it’s yet another example of a punishing (and distorting) elite university. someone who challenges fashionable far-left dogma.”
She said her lecture would have had to do with gender and feminism, and would instead have “addressed esoteric philosophical issues in the romantic movement.”
“This is not a case of Harvard refusing to platform ideas it doesn’t like. This is a case of Harvard misrepresenting me for political reasons totally irrelevant to my scholarship“, Buckley wrote. “As you mentioned in your email, I was interested in Harvard for my ‘cutting edge research’, not for my advocacy of women’s rights – and I had no intention of bringing up gender or feminism in a lecture on the relevance of Plotinian neo-Platonism and Vedic philosophy to the transcendent ontologies of early 19th century British poets.
She noted that although her speech would have been about astrophysics, “I have no doubt I would have received a similar email.”
“If it is unacceptable for me to speak at Harvard about British poetry and philosophy because I am a feminist, then I urge Harvard to purge its libraries and museums of anyone who holds views unacceptable to Harvard,” he said. she continued.
“If I am to be silenced, then why do the tomes and treatises of history’s countless sexist, racist and homophobic homophobes still sit on Harvard’s hallowed shelves and continue to be quoted with reverence? Harvard should clean them all up and leave only the purity of the void in the space,” Buckley added.
Buckley went on to say that it’s “hard to discern whether feminist-cancellers like me won’t or can’t understand us when we’re critiquing gender,” and that she suspects most people don’t believe that. not that a man can be a woman, it’s just that most people keep quiet for the sake of their careers.
“I want to call them moral cowards, but I also have sympathy for those who have to do this to survive, such as assistants who struggle to find non-academic jobs and continue to cling desperately to labor exploitation. part-time at wealthy universities that advertise themselves as bastions of social justice,” she said.
Buckley also contradicted the letter’s statement that WoLF makes comments about trans people being dangerous and deceptive, saying the organization instead opposes “dangerous ideology and politics for women”, including those that allow men to enter female spaces on the basis of self-identification as female.
“WoLF and I have never claimed that anyone is dangerous because of being trans. On the contrary, we have asserted that some trans-identified men are dangerous because of being predators. We have asserted that men in women’s prisons, for example, are a threat to women because they are violent men,” she said.
“WoLF has no problem with trans-identified women being housed in a women’s prison. Also, one of our arguments against self-identification is that gender identity self-identifies. attested is, by definition, tamper-proof since it is based on purely subjective experience and, therefore, can be abused by predatory men who would not otherwise identify as trans,” she continued.
“Since such nuance cannot exceed the intellectual caliber of Harvard, I can only assume either that Harvard thinks abuse in women’s prisons is fake news, or that Harvard thinks such violence against women is somehow justified,” Buckley noted.
Buckley noted that she has a degree in biology, one in neuroscience, and that “I’m confident in my definition of a woman – an adult human woman.”
“Why can’t I be interested in both Platonism and feminism? Shelley was. Why can’t I write in multiple genres, including polemic? ” she wrote.
Concluding his letter, Buckley said, “For my part, I’d rather be damned with the romantics and Plato than go to waking heaven with Erin and Harvard faculty.”
In response to Buckley’s cancellation, WoLF will host a virtual webinar featuring Buckley, which will discuss “Harvard’s cancellation, free speech for women, and the ideological capture of academia.”