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Cambridge University rescinds fellowship for controversial academic Jordan Peterson

The alt-right psychology professor claims that white privilege is a lie

Cambridge University said alt-right favourite Jordan Peterson held views that went against its values. Newspix via Getty Images
Cambridge University said alt-right favourite Jordan Peterson held views that went against its values. Newspix via Getty Images

Cambridge University has withdrawn its offer of a fellowship to the alt-right social media sensation Dr Jordan Peterson, the academic who styles himself as the vanguard against political correctness and an advocate for men’s rights.

He has courted controversy by arguing that ‘white privilege’ does not exist, heavily criticised gender identity politics and left-wing commentators, and holds questionable views on climate change. The 56-year-old psychology professor from Toronto caused uproar in Canada in 2016 when he said he would refuse to address people if they asked to be referred to by gender neutral pronouns.

His intellectual proclivity towards chauvinism is also popular with extremist networks where bigoted hate speech is prevalent.

Mr Peterson has nearly 1 million YouTube subscribers, with some 60 million views, and over 1.12 million followers on Twitter. His self-help book ’12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’ became a bestseller.

On Monday, he had announced he was set to begin a two month visiting fellowship at Cambridge’s divinity school and said it would be “a thrill” to talk to "religious experts of all types… as well as students”.

However, on Wednesday Cambridge University released a statement saying the offer, which the university claimed had been “requested” by Mr Peterson, had “been rescinded after a further review”.

“[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment and we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our principles. There is no place here for anyone who cannot,” a university spokesman told The Guardian.

Mr Peterson hit back in a blog post saying the divinity school had signalled “their solidarity with the diversity-inclusivity-equity mob”.

“I heard about the rescinded offer through the grapevine, via a colleague and friend, and gathered what I could about the reasons from social media and press coverage.”

Mr Peterson called the claim he had “requested” a fellowship a “half-truth” because “the fellowship offer was a consequence of mutual discussion”.

“I think the Faculty of Divinity made a serious error of judgement in rescinding their offer to me… I think they handled publicising the rescindment in a manner that could hardly have been more narcissistic, self-congratulatory and devious,” he said.

Cambridge University Students’ Union said Mr Peterson’s held views that opposed its principles.

Actor Charlie Hunnam sparked outrage earlier this week when he said he was a “big fan” of Mr Peterson and his forthright views.

Updated: March 21, 2019 06:01 PM

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