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Jordan Peterson’s Cambridge fellowship withdrawn over Islamophobic t-shirt

The divisive academic is an outspoken critic of political correctness

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 withdrew a fellowship from divisive academic Jordan Peterson because he posed with a man wearing a t-shirt emblazoned “I’m a proud Islamophobe”, a senior member of the institution said.

The Canadian professor, an advocate for male rights and critic of transgender identity activism, is somewhat of a darling among the anti-establishment.

The offer of a two-month visiting fellowship was rescinded last week. The 56-year-old psychology lecturer, a staunch critic of political correctness, has amassed tens of millions of video views online and 1.13 million followers on Twitter.

“Early last week, the faculty became aware of a photograph of Professor Peterson posing with his arm around a man wearing a T-shirt that clearly bore the slogan 'I’m a proud Islamophobe', said a statement by Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope, himself a Canadian.

“The casual endorsement by association of this message was thought to be antithetical to the work of a faculty that prides itself in the advancement of inter-faith understanding,” he added.

When the rescindment hit the headlines last week, Mr Peterson said the divinity faculty, which had initially made the offer, “could hardly have been more narcissistic, self-congratulatory and devious” in its handling of the situation.

The academic said the school had showed “their solidarity with the diversity-inclusivity-equity mob”.

He accused the department of failing to care about the apparent decline of Christianity amid a fall in church attendance, rise in agnostic or atheistic views and “irrelevance” of theological education.

Responding to accusations Cambridge had pandered to so-called "snowflake" sentiments of people unable to take criticism, Mr Toope referred to a statement he made nearly 10 years ago as vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, where he said “we are a community that values respect for all others”.

“Robust debate can scarcely occur, for example, when some members of the community are made to feel personally attacked, not for their ideas but for their very identity,” he said.

The vice-chancellor universities needed to remain places of “often challenging and even uncomfortable dialogue” while ”balancing academic freedom with respect for members of our community”.

Mr Peterson’s self-help book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos became an international best-seller.

When announcing his fellowship on March 18, Mr Peterson had said it would be a “a thrill” to talk to "religious experts of all types… as well as students”.

By March 20, however, Cambridge’s faculty of divinity released a statement saying the offer had “been rescinded after a further review”.

Updated: March 26, 2019 03:59 PM