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Capitulation to know-nothing name-callers

Thursday, March 9, 2017 21:27
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Peter Wood writes at The Federalist about the violent protestors at Middlebury College who prevented Charles Murray from speaking.

…Some things go without saying, but should be said anyway. Middlebury is in trouble. It is not alone. Many colleges and universities are in similar trouble. They have lost the key to open intellectual debate. They can no longer distinguish between tolerating dissent that respects open discourse, and licensing mob action aimed at preventing the free exchange of ideas. They respond with timidity and cowardice at the first mention of racial sensitivities, and flee in panic from their public responsibility to free speech when leftist bullies unleash their projectile accusations.

Race in America is a fraught topic. But allowing the epithet “racist” to silence any and every view not currently in vogue with Black Lives Matter is cringing. What kind of progress can we make as a nation if our college presidents, entrusted with the integrity of higher education, respond to such demagoguery with abject submission? The same more or less applies to such epithets as “sexist” and “anti-gay,” as well as other imputations that anyone who disagrees with a progressive formulation of who is oppressing whom is therefore a bigot.

Murray doesn’t fit the jacket that the Middlebury protesters tried to hang on him. Anyone who has read his books knows that. Shame on President Patton and others in the Middlebury community who could have spoken up and didn’t. But shame on a hundred other college presidents—at least a hundred—who have similarly taken the easy path of capitulation to know-nothing name-callers over the last year or two.

College boards of trustees, are you listening? Why do you appoint people whose only talent is to appease bullies? Why do you sit back and let them do what President Patton just did? Do you think Middlebury just purchased “peace in our time”? I think Middlebury purchased a long lasting scar on its reputation. It will be known as a place more concerned about political posturing than education.

…But, again, Middlebury is only one of many colleges and universities caught in this situation. Higher education today recruits college presidents in part by ascertaining their willingness not to get in the way of whatever progressive causes are currently fashionable. We hire college presidents who are all-in on diversity, sustainability, world-citizenship, and so on. Boards of trustees, charged with making these decisions, generally recline into accepting the advice of “stakeholder” committees in which each ideological faction wields a veto. We then wind up with college presidents whose superpower is appeasement.

Read more here.


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