Ed Driscoll

Curmudgeon v. Thought Police

Charles Murray pens “An open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University” at the American Enterprise Institute Website:

I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

Read the rest at the AEI Institute’s Website. As it happens, I interviewed Murray today regarding The Curmudgeon’s Guide, which I loved; and having read his open letter this morning, I asked him about being censored by Azusa Pacific. Here’s a quick transcription of that portion of the interview:

DRISCOLL: As I was prepping for this interview, I came across your “open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University.” Could you discuss what happened there?

MURRAY: I was going to go speak to them tomorrow; actually going to being talking about Curmudgeon’s Guide. This has been in my calendar for a couple of months, and I have discovered as of yesterday afternoon, that they have decided my appearance should be “postponed,” on account of needing more time to for a “review” of my “full scholarship.”


The Thought Police have struck again. So I decided that I would vent a little bit regarding that. So I did an open letter that I posted on AEI’s Ideas Page, it’s blog. I had a lot of fun writing it, by the way.

DRISCOLL: Do you think that “postponement” is a euphemism for cancelled?

MURRAY: [Laughs.] Yeah. It is definitely is, and I will also say that they may think that they’ve postponed it, but I certainly don’t look at it that way. I think that the administration behaved in that kind of way which most irritates me.

Ed, the degree of cowardice, just plain, simple cowardice in academia is unbelievable.

Look for the rest of my interview with Charles Murray in about a week or so with audio and transcript. In the meantime, the incident he describes dovetails perfectly with Glenn Reynolds’ latest USA Today column, titled, “Toss out abusive college administrators:”

Like most professors, I hate doing administrative work. And since somebody has to do it, universities have increasingly built up a corps of full-time administrators. That’s fine, but lately, the administrative class has grown too numerous and too heavy-handed. As colleges and universities increasingly face financial pressures, it’s time to rethink.

Full-time administrators now outnumber full-time faculty. And when times get tough, schools have a disturbing tendency to shrink faculty numbers while keeping administrators on the payroll. Teaching gets done by low-paid, nontenured adjuncts, but nobody ever heard of an “adjunct administrator.”

But it’s not just the fat that is worrisome. It’s administrators’ obsession with — and all too often, abuse of — security that raises serious concerns. At the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Clyde W. Barrow, a leading professor, has just quit, complaining of an administration that isolates itself from students and faculty behind keypads and security doors.

Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.

Earlier: Punks, Meet the Godfather.