“These condemnations, coming about 50 years too late, should not be taken seriously.”
After the recent incident at Middlebury College, during which a mob of students prevented Professor Charles Murray from speaking and sent a professor to the emergency room, people are finally starting to notice that protest culture on college campuses is out of control.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. We’ve documented similar events on this site numerous times. This time however, people on the left took notice.
Frank Bruni writes at the New York Times:
The Dangerous Safety of College
The moral of the recent melee at Middlebury College, where students shouted down and chased away a controversial social scientist, isn’t just about free speech, though that’s the rubric under which the ugly incident has been tucked. It’s about emotional coddling. It’s about intellectual impoverishment.
Somewhere along the way, those young men and women — our future leaders, perhaps — got the idea that they should be able to purge their world of perspectives offensive to them. They came to believe that it’s morally dignified and politically constructive to scream rather than to reason, to hurl slurs in place of arguments.
They have been done a terrible disservice. All of us have, and we need to reacquaint ourselves with what education really means and what colleges do and don’t owe their charges.
Physical safety? Absolutely. A smooth, validating passage across the ocean of ideas? No. If anything, colleges owe students turbulence, because it’s from a contest of perspectives and an assault on presumptions that truth emerges — and, with it, true confidence.
While it’s nice of Mr. Bruni to take notice of what’s happening, he fails to assign any blame for the current situation to the left, which is exactly where it belongs.
It is not conservatives who are responsible for creating the culture of safe spaces and extreme political correctness on campus today. Conservatives are the ones who usually suffer at the hands of social justice warriors whenever they try to speak on campus.
Dennis Prager made the same point in a recent column:
Some on the Left Now Criticize the Students They Created
In the last few weeks, there has been a spate of columns by writers on the left condemning the left-wing college students who riot, take over university buildings and shout down speakers with whom they differ.
These condemnations, coming about 50 years too late, should not be taken seriously.
Take New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. His latest column is filled with dismay over the way Middlebury College students attacked Charles Murray and a liberal woman professor who interviewed him (she was injured by the rioters).
I have no doubt that Bruni is sincere. However, sincerity is completely unrelated to wisdom or insight.
Here’s the problem:
It is the left that transformed universities into the moral and intellectual wastelands most are now.
It is the left that created the moral monsters known as left-wing students who do not believe in free speech, let alone tolerance.
It is the left that has taught generations of young Americans that America is essentially a despicable society that is racist and xenophobic to its core.
It is the left that came up with the lie that the university has been overrun by a “culture of rape.”
It is the left that taught generations of Americans that everyone on the right is sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, racist and bigoted.
It is the left that is anti-intellectual, teaching students to substitute feelings for reason.
Mark A. Signorelli of The Federalist gets to the heart of the problem:
Liberals Cannot Condemn Campus Rioters Because They Created Them
Dostoyevsky’s “The Demons,” one of the finest political novels ever written, tells the story of Stepan Verkhovensky: an amiable, if faintly ridiculous, scholar idling in the provinces of Russia. As a young man, Stepan flirted with the liberal ideas of his day, publishing an article in a “progressive journal” and aiding in a translation of the socialist Charles Fourier. He even grew convinced for a time that the government was watching him closely (and grows very annoyed to find out that they do not care the least bit about him). Evidently allured by the chicness of radical ideas, Stepan is nonetheless too frivolous and gentle a man to try to implement those ideas in the real world.
His son, Peter, is a different case altogether. Immediately upon returning to his hometown, he begins organizing some wannabe revolutionaries into a cell to carry out their seditious designs…
I thought of this novel over the weekend when I read Frank Bruni’s op-ed piece decrying the recent violent protest at Middlebury College. It is an article that sounds many of the same notes that conservatives have been sounding since this incident. He laments the “emotional coddling” and “intellectual impoverishment” on display at Middlebury. He warns that the fracas was “the fruit of a dangerous ideological conformity in too much of higher education.” He condemns the “policing of imperfect language, silencing of dissent and shaming of dissenters” all too prevalent on the university campus now.
Falling under the spell of this article, one could almost forget that the writers for the op-ed pages of the New York Times—where Mr. Bruni plies his trade—routinely employ the very same political rhetoric used by Middlebury’s protestors.
If Frank Bruni and others on the left are serious in their concern, maybe they could build a human wall in front of the outrage brigade the next time a conservative is prevented from speaking on campus.