The Real Cowards of Academia
One of the nice things about summer is that school is out and at least for a few months we’ll get a welcome break – from those sanctimonious liberal snowflakes on college campus who over and over manage to prove that old saying, the one about how the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
One such asylum is Evergreen State College in Washington State where each year they have something called “A Day of Absence” when students who aren’t white leave the campus and get together in some kind of symbolic gesture. This year they reversed it and told all the white people on campus that they had to leave for the day because of … Donald Trump.
According to the student newspaper, students of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus following the 2016 election.” One white professor who protested had his class disrupted by about 50 liberal fascists – and for his own safety had to teach his students in a park.
How did the school’s president respond? Did he suspend or expel members of the mob? Did he at least issue a mealy-mouth note of disapproval? Of course not. Instead, he issued a statement saying he was “grateful” for the “passion and courage” of his students – the same sanctimonious mob that drove the professor out of his classroom and into a park.
If you’re looking for a profile in courage, don’t waste your time looking in the president’s office at Evergreen State College.
But, of course, this is only the latest example of campus craziness.
Not long ago students at Middlebury College in Vermont yelled and screamed and literally stomped their feet to prevent Charles Murray, the conservative scholar, from speaking on campus.
At Claremont McKenna College in California, an angry mob showed off their liberal tolerance by blocking the entrance to a building where another conservative scholar, Heather MacDonald, was scheduled to speak. She had to go to a safe place on campus where her talk was live streamed to a much smaller audience.
There was a mini-riot replete with smashed windows at Berkeley to prevent a conservative provocateur from speaking on campus.
At Harvard’s commencement recently, the school’s president, Drew Faust, took note of the trend and told students that they needed to hear opinions they didn’t like. “We must remember that limiting some speech opens the dangerous possibility that the speech that is ultimately censored may be our own,” Ms. Faust said. “If some words are to be treated as equivalent to physical violence and silenced or even prosecuted, who is to decide which words?”
That sounds good. But wait, there’s more.
"We can see here at Harvard how our inattentiveness to the power and appeal of conservative voices left much of our community astonished, blindsided by the outcome of last fall’s election," she said. “We need to hear those hateful ideas so our society is fully equipped to oppose and defeat them.”
Get it? One of the reasons liberals should listen to conservative voices is because they’re hateful and need to be vanquished – by warm and welcoming liberal ideas.
And what should we make of Ulrich Baer, the vice provost for faculty, arts, humanities, and diversity, and professor of comparative literature at New York University who apparently doesn’t believe in free speech – at least not for people with opinions that offend groups that have been targets of discrimination.
When certain “views invalidate the humanity of some people, they restrict speech as a public good” and in “such cases there is no inherent value to be gained from debating them in public,” he wrote in the New York Times.
This is quite remarkable. A professor and administrator at a major American university who isn’t ashamed to admit that unpopular speech is not worthy of debate. The real heroes, according to Baer, are the students who disrupt speech they don’t like.
“We should thank the student protestors,” he writes, “the activists in Black Lives Matter and other ‘overly sensitive’ souls for keeping watch over the soul of our republic.”
With college administrators like that is it any wonder that the lunatics have taken over the asylum?
But there is hope. And it comes from a liberal, Fareed Zakaria, the CNN journalist and Washington Post columnist who recently spoke at graduation ceremonies at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He summarized his observations on his CNN program.
“American universities these days seem committed to every kind of diversity excepted intellectual diversity. Conservative voices and views, already a besieged minority, are being silenced entirely. The campus thought police have gone after serious conservative thinkers. …
“Freedom of speech and thought is not just for warm fuzzy ideas that we find comfortable. It’s for ideas we find offensive.
“There is, as we all know, a kind of anti-intellectualism on the right these days – the denial of facts, of reason, of science. But there is also an anti-intellectualism on the left—an attitude of self righteousness that says we are so pure, so morally superior, we cannot bear to hear an idea with which we disagree. Liberals think they are tolerant, but often they aren’t.”
We need to hear more liberal voices like that.
As for liberal snowflakes on campus: They’re young and foolish and pampered -- so maybe their cowardice in the face of inconvenient ideas can be understood, though not excused.
As for the grownups on campus, the college deans and provosts and presidents: Some of them are just as radical as their illiberal students. And too many others tolerate liberal intolerance because they're afraid to speak up, fearing a backlash from either the snowflakes, the faculty, or both. They are the real cowards of academia.