Fire UPenn Anthropology Professor Robert Schuyler
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We write this petition, respectfully calling upon the University of Pennsylvania to take immediate measures to fire Robert Schuyler, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and curator at the Penn Museum.
On Wednesday, January 6, Robert Schuyler used the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” along with a Nazi salute during a Society for Historical Archaeology virtual conference, moments after University of York Ph.D. candidate Liz Quinlan was speaking about the topic of increasing accessibility and inclusivity in future conferences.
Before Quinlan was able to present her concluding remarks, Schuyler interjected to ask how the pandemic has impacted the Society’s membership renewals, a topic unrelated to Quinlan’s speech. Quinlan responded to Schuyler that this was not the place to bring up his concerns regarding membership. Schuyler then verbally attacked Quinlan, declaring, “I’m sorry, but I have freedom of speech and you’re not going to tell me it’s not the place for me to bring this up.” After Quinlan explained that she was attempting to utilize the position given to her by the Society to present on accessibility and inclusion in virtual conferences, Schuyler aggressively proclaimed, “Sieg Heil to you” and raised his hand in the Nazi salute.
“Sieg Heil, which translates to “Hail Victory” was one of the most notorious Nazi slogans used during the Third Reich, and has since been adopted by neo-Nazi groups. The U.S. Constitution protects free speech under the First Amendment. Yet, the right to speak is not unlimited and Schuyler’s words should not be protected by his “right to free speech.” This act was not only speech but also actual behavior because Schuyler raised his hand in a Nazi salute. These words and salute are especially harmful and offensive to Jewish people in general and especially to those whose families were murdered in the Holocaust.
Just to illustrate the severity of Schuyler’s use of this expression, it is important to note that use of this slogan is currently punishable in Germany with up to three years in prison. This exemplifies the seriousness with which Germany views the use of this term that is directly associated with the Nazi regime.
Notably, Schuyler’s blatantly antisemitic behavior took place on the same day that white nationalist rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. As media reports have shown, some of these rioters also displayed antisemitic symbols. One man wore a black “Camp Auschwitz” t-shirt, depicting a skull and crossbones and the phrase “work brings freedom” an English translation of the concentration camp motto “Arbeit macht frei.” Another man wore a t-shirt with the inscription 6MWE and yellow symbols originating in Italian Fascism. This acronym is common among far-right white supremacists, and stands for “six million wasn’t enough,” referring to the Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, and suggesting the wearer’s intent and desire to continue the genocide of Jews.
Schuyler has confirmed his actions to the Daily Pennsylvanian. He does not deny his use of the Nazi slogan and salute during the conference, nor does he believe that he deserves to be disciplined. Moreover, as of January 10, Schuyler had not yet presented an apology to Quinlan.
As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors whose family members perished under the Nazi regime, and as a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate student, I find Professor Schuyler’s actions incredibly offensive and absolutely unacceptable. I, along with countless other students and community members who have signed this petition, respectfully call upon the University of Pennsylvania to immediately fire Robert Schuyler. His actions are appalling, impermissible, and utterly disgraceful. Antisemitic and racist behavior does not align with the University’s values, and cannot be tolerated under any circumstance.
While Schuyler’s actions have been condemned by both the Penn Museum and Penn’s Anthropology Department Chair, condemnation is not enough. Robert Schuyler must be held accountable for his actions, and should no longer hold the title of a Penn professor nor have any affiliation with Penn. As an institution, Penn must take disciplinary action to demonstrate that intolerable behavior has consequences, and to ensure that this does not happen again.
Additional Useful Information:
Link to Daily Pennsylvanian article: https://www.thedp.com/article/2021/01/nazi-salute-phrase-archaeology-conference-penn-professor-robert-schuyler
Link to the Daily Pennsylvanian’s video segment of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZXPD-ndgvE&feature=emb_title
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