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Law professor’s ignorance reflects poorly on University

With the rapid spread of the coronavirus, many people across the United States have taken a page out of the tired college students’ handbook: ordering from Uber Eats. Since mid-March, orders in the United States and Canada have risen by 30 percent, with frequent orders for french fries and Pad Thai.

Fox News published the most common Uber Eats orders for the month of March in 35 states, and it is hard to find anything noteworthy other than the popularity of the above foods. But GW Law professor Jonathan Turley found something interesting, tweeting, “The most popular uber eats orders in Oklahoma is spicy tuna roll and in both Missouri and Wisconsin crag [sic] rangoon? California is chicken tikka masala? I don’t even know what that is beyond the chicken. If true, we have an outbreak of the panpompous.”

A few things stand out about his tweet. For one, it illustrates the man’s ignorance of American culture. Not knowing about common dishes like chicken tikka masala is a reflection on the tweet’s author, not the Californians who order the popular Indian food. If he truly does not know what chicken tikka masala is, I invite Turley to Flavors of India once we return to campus.

“Panpompous” is also not a word. It does not exist in the Merriam-Webster or the Oxford English dictionaries. The law professor tried to show off his wide vocabulary by using a made-up word to describe people who order these common foods. It demonstrates his ignorance and narcissism beyond Twitter.

This recent tweet is a minor transgression by Turley’s high standards. He argued in favor of the appointment of Attorney General William Barr and has since defended Barr through accusations of corruption. While defending the attorney general, Turley noted that he felt Barr was unfairly being judged by the media, even as Barr continues to make legally and ethically dubious decisions in defense of President Donald Trump.

It’s not the first time Turley has made arguments in defense of the president. Turley’s testimony in defense of Trump at the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year seemingly contradicted testimony he gave decades ago during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial about what is and isn’t an impeachable offense. Turley’s words and actions continually aim to aid the Trump administration’s public image and convince Americans that the president’s leadership is sound.

For the most part, I do not care what professors do or say in their spare time. But when one from my school goes on national television to support heinous men and their policies, I feel embarrassed. It is upsetting that the University continues to employ Turley.

Earlier this year, the law school named Dayna Bowen Matthew its next dean. Matthew said she wants to use her position to create a preeminent space for civil discourse and constructive collaboration. Turley’s ignorant words and antagonistic actions work counter to her aims. Matthew should reprimand Turley by firing – or at least censuring – him to demonstrate that his speech does not meet the values of the University. 

Matthew should not allow Turley’s words and actions to represent the values of GW. Using his credentials as a professor at our University makes his comments and actions representative of GW, even if they are not reflective of the University’s values. The law school has a fresh start with the introduction of Matthew, and this is its chance to reevaluate its professors and what type of institution it wants to be.

Turley’s ignorance paired with his job at GW makes the University look like an institution that hires bigoted professors and condones their rhetoric. Turley’s use of his University credentials makes me feel as if I am an accomplice to his actions. And to cure himself of at least one type of pompousness, he should really try some Chicken Tikka Masala.

Matthew Zachary, a junior majoring in Latin American and hemispheric studies, is a columnist.

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