When Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, then an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2019 arguing that political issues like climate change and gun control had no place in medical school curricula, Larry Jameson, then the dean of Penn’s medical school, denounced Goldfarb by name.
“Please know that the views expressed by Dr. Goldfarb … do not reflect the values of the Perelman School of Medicine,” Jameson wrote to students. “We deeply value inclusion and diversity as fundamental to effective health care delivery, creativity, discovery, and life-long learning.”
Fast-forward five years, and Jameson’s mastery of woke argot has earned him a promotion: He is now Penn’s interim president, having assumed the role late last year when the school’s board of trustees pushed his predecessor, Liz Magill, out the door following her shameful testimony before Congress.
She lost her job because, as one former Penn donor put it, the university didn’t give “a crap” about rising anti-Semitism on campus.
The question is whether anything has changed since her dismissal.
Jameson on Sunday responded to the Washington Free Beacon‘s revelation that a lecturer at Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, Dwayne Booth, has published several grotesque anti-Semitic cartoons. Jameson said that while he personally finds the images “reprehensible,” institutionally speaking, his hands are tied. See, Penn has a “bedrock commitment to open expression and academic freedom.”
Well, if Jameson won’t act, surely Penn’s Task Force on Antisemitism would have something to say, right? Turns out, task force chairman Mark Wolff couldn’t be bothered to respond to requests for comment on Booth’s cartoons from the Free Beacon‘s Jessica Costescu, nor has he commented on them elsewhere so far as we can tell.
Jameson’s response more or less mirrors Magill’s statement last year in response to demands that she take action against a school-sponsored festival featuring prominent anti-Semites. Some were upset, she noted at the time, but alas, Penn “fiercely support[s] the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission.”
Notably, Jameson didn’t invoke paeans to free speech when Goldfarb spoke his mind. Actually, he called Goldfarb out by name—a step he didn’t take in the case of Booth, the cartoonist. Nor has Jameson intervened to put an end to the university’s precedent-setting attempt to yank tenure from one of its own professors, Amy Wax, for making politically incorrect statements.
This is the “asymmetric free speech” that prevailed before October 7 and—regime change notwithstanding—still prevails today. Anti-Semitism at Penn will be tolerated, protected, and defended under the guise of free expression and open debate. “It depends on the context” is Jameson’s answer, the same as the one delivered by his predecessor.