Catholic Professor Under Fire for Truthful Commentary

by Christine Niles  •  •  December 4, 2016   

Dr. Anthony Esolen suffering backlash after criticizing political correctness

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. ( - A Catholic professor is facing protests from students and faculty after he criticized political correctness.

Dr. Esolen teaches literature at Providence College in Rhode Island, which self-identifies as "Catholic and Dominican." Two recent articles in Crisis Magazine sparked the complaints against him: one titled "The Narcissism of Campus Diversity Activists," and the other titled "My College Succumbed to the Totalitarian Diversity Cult."

Speaking with Church Militant, Dr. Esolen clarified of the first article, "The title, of course, was provided by the editor — not by me; the article is not really about narcissism, but about the incomprehensible criticism of our Development of Western Civilization [course] as 'narrow' and not 'diverse,' when in fact we study a wild diversity of cultures over 4,000 years."

In his latter article, Dr. Esolen had lamented that "the watchword at Providence College right now is not unity, but 'diversity,'" going on to denounce the modern notion of "diversity" as at bottom anti-Catholic.

"I notice also, on that same Diversity page, that we are supposed to commit ourselves to welcoming the alphabet soup of cheered-on sexual proclivities," he observed. "For some reason that does not include F, for Fornicators, or S, for swingers, or P, for pornographers, or W, for sex-workers, formerly called harlots, or A, for adulterers. No political lobby for those?"

He went on to lament that "there is no evidence on our Diversity page that we wish to be what God has called us to be, a committedly and forthrightly Catholic school with life-changing truths to bring to the world."

"It is as if, deep down, we did not really believe it," he added.

Shortly after publication of the article, a group of students complained to administration, accusing Esolen of "racism." In late October, about 60 students staged a protest on campus, during which they aired their grievances to the president of the college, Fr. Brian Shanley.

Shanley than issued a public letter to all the faculty, staff and students expressing sympathy with the students and scolding Esolen for his failure to cherish "diversity."

"When a professor questions the value of diversity, the impact on many students, faculty, and staff of color is to feel that their presence is not valued and that they are not welcome at Providence College," Shanley wrote.

"At the same time that we value freedom in the pursuit of truth, let us value even more our fundamental imperative on a Catholic campus: to be charitable to one another," he continued.

According to Esolen, "My friends of course were outraged, and I was stunned — basically, I had been singled out and exposed before the whole faculty."

A faculty meeting followed during which Esolen was vilified by those present, followed by a petition accusing Esolen of racism, sexism, homophobia, and a number of other faults.

"All I want to do is to teach all students the glories of 3,000 years of poetry, art, theology and philosophy; and not to have the campus riven by the politicians," Esolen commented.

Various people have since weighed in in defense of Esolen, including National Review's Alexandra Desanctis, who asked, "Is Providence College the latest in a line of Catholic universities to demean authentically Catholic speech in favor of modernity's divisive vision of diversity?"

And Dr. Michael Rubin, alumnus of Providence, also wrote a scathing piece in the professor's defense.

Consider the preposterous level of irony. A professor writes two articles arguing that the campaign for "diversity" is in fact a thinly disguised attempt to ensure conformity to a liberal social agenda. Students and faculty then denounce the professor for every form of bigotry, and demand his termination for even daring to question their views on diversity, thereby confirming the professor’s thesis. To which the administration replies, not by coming to the defense of the lone professor against the mob, but by joining in the attack, implicitly criticizing the professor's lack of charity and accusing him of racism.

The associate vice president of Providence has denied that faculty ever demanded that Esolen be fired. He never denied, however, that students had sought to have Dr. Esolen fired, nor did he deny the fact that some faculty were looking for reasons to justify his firing.

Watch the panel discuss this and other instances of PC enforcement in "The Download—Campus Thuggery."


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