Sputnik: Why do you think you have been suspended from the University of Sydney where you taught for 20 years?
Tim Anderson: Well it's under appeal so I'm still not completely out but the reason they moved against me is because pressure on the university from some of the media with whom I've engaged…basically I've been criticizing the war propaganda in the media — the lies that they've told at different times — some of the corporate media and then there's also some Zionist lobbyists who've chimed in too.
So university managers get quite scared by this sort of pressure and I refuse to be censored by the managers at my university which is why we've come to this stand-off.
Sputnik: How difficult is it to be a dissenting voice at some western institutions now?
Tim Anderson: It's an interesting question; I'm in my mid-sixties; I don't have any mortgages; I'm reasonably well off financially; I'm in a relatively luxurious position to be able to speak my mind and not worry about what people have to say. But a lot of people, even if they're relatively well-off middle-class academics, there are always little carrots or little threats that are being held out in front of them so I've been quite shocked really in recent years to see how intimidated and what a climate of fear there is, particularly in a war-time situation amongst academics.
In the past for example if something had blown up — the media have attacked me many times in the last five year for example for what I'm doing —people will say things in private ‘Oh, we really appreciate what you're doing' but they won't say it in public; they're worried there will be some kind of kick-back on to their job.
Sputnik: What is the danger of restricting freedom of speech in universities?
Tim Anderson: It's a very obvious danger — you're not going to have dissenting voices, you're not going to have people criticizing things, you're not going to have people stand up and say ‘The Emperor wears no clothes'. These eight different wars that have been initiated in the Middle East are not really about human rights and democracy, they're about something else.
And so those sorts of things are getting a grip on the curriculum and institutionally the way things are discussed in universities and I suppose it is making people feel more isolated; they want to speak out against imperial wars and dirty wars and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and some of the big issues of our day.
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