We Wonder…. (Vol. 1, Issue 17)
Another flagrant case of the suppression of academic freedom has recently taken place at C.C.N.Y. with the dismissal of Mr. Morris U. Schappes, tutor in English, from the faculty of that institution.
That Prof. Charles F. Horne, head of the English department at C.C.N.Y., and until last year professor of English at Yeshiva, should be the motivating force behind the dismissal of Schappes, is amazing to us and a shock to our class of ’35 which naively voted him the most respected member of Yeshiva’s faculty.
We can find no defense for our erstwhile “most respected teacher”. Mr. Schappes, during his seven years as tutor, had on many occasions been commended by the previous head of the English Department as a competent instructor. Schappes was also voted the most popular faculty member of the City College staff by last year’s Senior Class. Yet Prof. Horne visits Schappes classroom on two occasions for five minutes each, and miraculously enough is able to discover “inefficiency” and “incompetency”.
There is one more item in Schappes’ record that may have been of significance in determining Prof. Horne’s course. Shortly before his dismissal, Schappes had appeared at a student rally against war and fascism. This, Prof. Horne assures us, was “mere coincidence”, and played no part in determining his policy.
We wonder, however, whether the tender feelings of the official historian of the American Legion and the D.A.R. were not violated by such an unpatriotic act.
His action is particularly perplexing to us who recall his inspiring lectures on the rise of the liberal movement in the history of English Literature. To us he had appeared, as a man whose attitude and world outlook was a progressive one, as an espouser of liberty and freedom of speech.
Was his seemingly liberal attitude at Yeshiva merely a cloak behind which to hide his true colors which were to appear once he had been granted the power to act?
Or is it perhaps that Prof. Horne after a long teaching career, must take orders from the “Little White Father” with the devastating and vindictive umbrella?