I have warned you about the total war, in which petitions and boycotts and other pressure tactics are used to silence conservative voices.
There is no better example than a case reported in the NY Post via National Review (h/t Jonah Goldberg) about a blogger at The Chronicle of Higher Education who was fired because she criticized the shoddy level of scholarship in black studies Ph.D. dissertations:
Yesterday, we reported on the scandalous treatment of journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley at the hands of a bunch of professional victims, otherwise known as Black studies academics and their acolytes. Riley was being denounced, branded a “white privileged” racist, while her employer, the Chronicle of Higher Education, was being petitioned to fire her. Her supposed crime was critiquing the quality of some highly-touted black studies PhD scholars and dissertations and questioning their relevance.
Today the scandal grows as Riley’s editors have taken the cowardly step of firing her. Chronicle editor Liz McMillan’s “note to readers” explaining the publication’s decision perfectly encapsulates the totalitarianism of left-wing academia.
Whereas Riley was engaged in serious debate, the readers and editors of the Chronicle are engaged in silencing criticism and banning the critics.
Here’s part of the offending blog post which led to the firing:
You’ll have to forgive the lateness but I just got around to reading The Chronicle’s recent piece on the young guns of black studies. If ever there were a case for eliminating the discipline, the sidebar explaining some of the dissertations being offered by the best and the brightest of black-studies graduate students has made it. What a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap. The best that can be said of these topics is that they’re so irrelevant no one will ever look at them….
Seriously, folks, there are legitimate debates about the problems that plague the black community from high incarceration rates to low graduation rates to high out-of-wedlock birth rates. But it’s clear that they’re not happening in black-studies departments. If these young scholars are the future of the discipline, I think they can just as well leave their calendars at 1963 and let some legitimate scholars find solutions to the problems of blacks in America. Solutions that don’t begin and end with blame the white man.
The Editor, Liz McMillen, originally defended the post:
Many of you have asked The Chronicle to take down Naomi Schaefer Riley’s recent posting, “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations.” I urge readers instead to view this posting as an opportunity—to debate Riley’s views, challenge her, set things straight as you see fit. Take a moment to read The Chronicle’s front-page story about the future of black studies, written by Chronicle reporter Stacey Patton and weigh in.
Please join the debate.
But after the petition and nasty online comments, McMillen gave in to the mob:
We’ve heard you, and we have taken to heart what you said.
We now agree that Ms. Riley’s blog posting did not meet The Chronicle’s basic editorial standards for reporting and fairness in opinion articles. As a result, we have asked Ms. Riley to leave the Brainstorm blog.
This sort of cowardly behavior is all too common. Witness the corporations who run at the slightest hint of a Color of Change or Media Matters boycott.
We are at a very perilous period in our society in which social media, a tool which could and should encourage the exchange of idea, serves as a tool to shut down and silence ideas.
Conservatives better wake up to this threat, and soon.