Letter to President Patton

By Peter Knobler, Middlebury Alum

Dear President Patton:

I question the decision to offer the imprimatur of Middlebury’s forum to Mr. Murray. The College can do better than lend its stature to a man of such racism and bigotry. It can encourage intellectual diversity by offering courses and events which include among their teachings, and in context, his brand of pseudoscience — but given the College’s mandate to pursue honor and intellectual rigor, I believe the decision to bring him on campus was a poor one.

I also take exception to your use of the phrase “outside agitators.” As you of course know, that phrase gained its greatest currency during the civil rights protests of the 1960s, when it was used by many racist Southern apologists, notably Alabama’s Governor George Wallace, to deflect responsibility for their refusal to address the grievances of their citizens. One is not limited in one’s right to protest by geography. As one of Middlebury’s own outside agitators who left campus in 1965 to march into Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I find your decision to use that phrase particularly offensive.

The disruption that occurred concerning Mr. Murray and Professor Stanger could have been avoided altogether by a more considered decision not to invite him to speak on campus in the first place. There are many available speakers across the political, economic and social spectrum. Middlebury is under no obligation, intellectual or otherwise, to offer its embrace to white supremacists and bigots.

Sincerely,
Peter Knobler ‘68