Friday, June 02, 2017

Radical Students Turn Professors Into "Dancing Bears"

“A few students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.”:
   Watching the way George Bridges, the president of Evergreen, has handled this situation put me in mind of a line from Allan Bloom’s book “The Closing of the American Mind.” Mr. Bloom was writing about administrators’ reaction to student radicals in the 1960s, but he might as well be writing about Evergreen: “A few students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.”
   At a town hall meeting, Mr. Bridges described the protestors as “courageous” and expressed his gratitude for “this catalyst to expedite the work to which we are jointly committed.” Of course, there was also pablum about how “free speech must be fostered and encouraged.” But if that’s what Mr. Bridges really believes, why isn’t he doing everything in his power to protect a professor who exercised it and condemn the mob that tried to stifle him?
   The Weinstein saga is just the latest installment in a series of similar instances of illiberalism on American campuses. In March, a planned speech by Charles Murray at Middlebury ended with the political scientists escorted off campus by police and his interviewer, Professor Allison Stanger, in a neck brace. In April, a speech at Claremont McKenna by the conservative writer Heather Mac Donald had to be livestreamed when protestors blocked access to the auditorium.
   Shutting down conservatives has become de rigueur. But now anti-free-speech activists are increasingly turning their ire on free-thinking progressives. Liberals shouldn’t cede the responsibility to defend free speech on college campuses to conservatives. After all, without free speech, what’s liberalism about?                      [my emphasis]

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