When false allegations from court evangelical Charlie Kirk resulted in death threats to a Harvard professor

Danielle Allen is a politics professor at Harvard. In a recent article at The Washington Post she writes about the death threats she received after Charlie Kirk, a spokesperson for Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, made a false allegation about her teaching. The allegation occurred on the Tucker Carlson Show on Fox.

Here is Allen:

Let me share a 2017 email exchange between myself and Fox News host Tucker Carlson after he broadcast my face on his television show and permitted his guest, conservative activist Charlie Kirk, to falsely allege that, in my classroom at Harvard, I taught that the rise of Trump was similar to the rise of Hitler. Immediately following that broadcast, I received death threats called into my office phone. I wrote to both Fox News and Carlson requesting a correction. I received none. Here is the exchange that resulted:

Danielle Allen: You failed to vet your interviewee for factual accuracy or to take responsibility for the falsehoods articulated on your show.

Tucker Carlson: How would I have vetted that claim? You compared Trump’s election to the rise of Hitler in the Washington Post. It didn’t seem outlandish to suggest that you might teach similar things in class. And, in fact, I still have no evidence that you haven’t taught that in class. How can I verify that?

Allen: Before accepting the interview, you should have asked him for his sources. Journalism should be based on facts, not your gut instinct for what is or is not outlandish. You were broadcasting a national story that directly affects people’s professional reputations. Also, even here, in this email, you are inaccurate. I wrote my piece in [February] 2016. Trump was not yet even the party nominee. I did not ever compare his election to the rise of Hitler. Not in print, not orally, ever. I compared his fast rise within a fractured Republican party during the primary to Hitler’s rise in a similarly fractured Germany.

Carlson: I’m committed to accuracy. You say you’ve never compared Trump’s rise to Hitler’s rise in class. How can we prove that?

Allen: Basic journalistic protocol would suggest that you should have begun by asking Mr. Kirk that sort of question.

Carlson: I had no idea he was going to say you’d made that comparison in class. I’d be happy to correct the record. Just send me conclusive evidence you’ve never made that comparison while teaching. Thanks.

Allen: You have my word and until Mr. Kirk provides you with any evidence to support his claim or any sources for his claim, the burden is not on me.

Carlson: I hear that a lot, unfortunately.

Read the entire piece here.

Allen: “Elites Are Starting to Look Around”

Trump voters

The election of Donald Trump is forcing some educated elites to take a look around in an attempt to understand their fellow Americans who voted for the new POTUS.

Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen, one of those elites, thinks this is healthy for our democracy.

Here is a taste of her Washington Post op-ed, “Trump’s Presidency is Teaching Elites Like Me a Lesson.”

This brings me to the issue of we, the elites. One of the key questions for any effort to rebuild our capacity to collaborate is whether members of the professional elite can recover a commitment to the people as a whole, and not merely to those who live near them — near us, I should say — in urban enclaves.

The good news is that those of us who win coveted seats at the top colleges and universities, and jobs that earn the wage premiums of our knowledge-dependent economy, have started to try to see how we look from the perspective of those we often fail to see. There’s Nicholas Kristof journeying to Oklahoma and the huge popularity of J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy.” The research work of Princeton economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case about increases in mortality rates in the white working class has by now fueled many investigative reports about rural America.

Of course, the working class impacted by our economic travails also includes many black and brown people. We shouldn’t forget this in our hurry to see people we’ve been overlooking. Similarly, we shouldn’t downgrade the issue of mass incarceration. For that matter, too much of rural America is dependent on jobs in prisons in out-of-the-way places. That, too, is something we should notice.

But at least we elites are starting to look around.

Read the entire piece here.

FOUND: A New Parchment Copy of the Declaration of Independence

national treasure

Read all about it at The New York Times.  Harvard University professor Danielle Allen discussed her find yesterday at the Yale University conference honoring Bernard Bailyn. She thinks the mid-1780s parchment was copied by order of James Wilson.

Here is a taste of Jennifer Schuessler’s story on the find:

Archival research doesn’t get much more exciting than the 2004 heist movie “National Treasure.” Nicolas Cage, playing a historian named Benjamin Franklin Gates, discovers a coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Globe-spanning intrigue ensues — accompanied, offscreen, by a tsunami of eye-rolling by actual historians.

But now, in a bit of real-life archival drama, a pair of scholars are announcing a surprising discovery: a previously unknown early handwritten parchment of the Declaration, buried in a provincial archive in Britain.

The document is the only other 18th-century handwritten parchment Declaration known to exist besides the one from 1776 now displayed at the National Archives in Washington. It isn’t an official government document, like the 1776 parchment, but a display copy created in the mid-1780s, the researchers argue, by someone who wanted to influence debate over the Constitution.

It may not hold the key to a Masonic conspiracy, as in “National Treasure.” But its subtle details, the scholars argue, illuminate an enduring puzzle at the heart of American politics: Was the country founded by a unitary national people, or by a collection of states?

“That is really the key riddle of the American system,” said Danielle Allen, a professor of government at Harvard, who discovered the document with a colleague, Emily Sneff.

That riddle has bedeviled American history, from debates over Southern secession to calls to abolish the Electoral College today. And it was the burning question in the mid-1780s, when the American experiment was at risk of falling apart, and the push for a federal constitution, creating a strong national government (with, crucially, the right to tax), gained steam.

The new parchment will hardly end the argument. But it “really shifts our understanding in how the nationalist position emerged,” Ms. Allen said.

It remains to be seen what scholars will make of the discovery, which will be announced on Friday at a conference at Yale. A paper, posted online, runs through a wealth of textual and material evidence supporting the claim that the document, while found in Britain, was created in America in the 1780s. Ms. Allen and Ms. Sneff’s conference presentation will focus on their leading candidate for person behind it: James Wilson, a Pennsylvania lawyer and one of the strongest nationalists at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, who probably commissioned the parchment.

Some historians who have previewed their research are impressed.

“The sleuthing they’ve done is just remarkable,” said Benjamin Irvin, an associate professor of history at the University of Arizona and the author of “Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty,” a 2011 study of the Continental Congress. The identification as American, from the mid-1780s, he added, “looks pretty watertight.”

Read the rest here.