A Commitment to Intellectual Freedom

Respect for the Middle West Review's Dedication to Preserving History and Freedom

David Randall

The Middle West Review has just announced its explicit commitment to “the principles of open inquiry, free speech, intellectual diversity.”

Middle West Review embraces the principles of open inquiry, free speech, intellectual diversity, and robust debate and discussion and believes they are crucial to the proper functioning of scholarly journals, higher education, and a society where unfettered expression and deliberation are prized ideals. Middle West Review adheres to the longstanding tenet of academic freedom which promotes an open marketplace of ideas among its editors, contributors, and readers. It strives to create a forum that reflects high standards of scholarship and places a premium on facts, logic, and evidence, as well as respecting all viewpoints embracing such standards and that are grounded in the process of critical thinking that has traditionally characterized scholarly endeavors.

It is worth emphasizing that this statement was placed under Middle West Review’s Submission Guidelines. Potential authors know that their submitted publications will be judged by these principles—and therefore judged well.

This should not matter—but of course it does. Academic journals have been prime malefactors in the regime of academic censorship and self-censorship. Lee Jussim’s account of the firing of Klaus Fiedler as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science provides one window into the problem. So too does the notorious campaign against Bruce Gilley, which included death threats against the editor of Third World Quarterly for daring to publish “The Case for Colonialism.” Censorship of academics by fellow academics is a terrible ailment of modern academia—and it proceeds not least by academic journals refusing publication to any article that contradicts the current party line.

The Middle West Review is not alone in committing itself to open inquiry, free speech, and intellectual diversity. The Journal of Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences, for one, also is excellent. But the number of academic journals committed to these principles, in theory and in practice, is terribly small. Every one is valuable and should be congratulated.

Then too, Middle West Review concerns itself with American history. Of all the subjects of academic inquiry, I think none ultimately matters more than the history of our country. If our fellow Americans forget their past, how will they know why or how to fight for liberty, in the republic and in the university? To foster the disposition to and habit of liberty, we must have free inquiry in the study of our own past. So, it is not a matter of academic interest alone that a journal devoted to American history also has rededicated itself to intellectual freedom.

I am delighted that Middle West Review has committed itself to the principles of intellectual freedom and hope all Americans will feel the same.

Photo by Adobe Stock

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