Most Americans know that political purges have been common in other countries, but they may assume that we don’t typically use such blunt methods within the United States.
The removal of President Tom Ross from the University of North Carolina, however, shows that purge-like interventions are now transforming our state’s public institutions.
The ideological upheaval in North Carolina has removed long-serving administrators from state agencies, purged Democrats from congressional districts through careful gerrymandering, displaced skeptical judges and sought to abolish tenure for public school teachers.
Meanwhile, Democrats have disappeared from the UNC Board of Governors, well-known university research centers are facing dissolution and the talented, highly respected president of the UNC system has been forced out of office.
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Although the advocates of this ongoing purge regularly condemn the scourge of “political correctness,” the unjustified dismissal of Ross shows how key state leaders are implementing their own influential political correctness in the institutions they control. Such actions replicate processes that have often shaped public conflicts in other times or places, but they exemplify a new kind of political assault on the leadership, traditions and academic integrity of the University of North Carolina.
Lloyd Kramer, Professor of history, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill