March 4, 2017
MORE ON MIDDLEBURY: College Protestors Send Professor To The ER.
This is disgraceful. That it happens repeatedly to speakers on the right, with few if any consequences for the thugs involved, is evidence of tacit approval of the behavior. Reminder: Conspiring to stifle free speech is a crime.
Middlebury administrators and others are trying to frame this as simply about respect for free speech and open discourse. But this is about more than the narrow issue of free speech. Academics and administrators need to take a hard look at the ideology many of them have been directly and passively incubating on campuses.
Before Murray’s lecture, over 500 alumni signed a letter which claimed that Murray’s visit sends “a message to every woman, every person of color, every first-generation student, every poor and working-class person, every disabled person, and every queer person that not only their acceptance to and presence at Middlebury, but also their safety, their agency, their humanity, and even their very right to exist are all up for ‘debate.’” The letter closes by asserting that Murray’s presence on campus “directly endangers members of the community.”
If Murray genuinely were directly endangering the Middlebury community and threatening the “existence” of its members, he probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the State of Vermont. But, of course, Murray isn’t actually the kind of threat these students imagine. As their letter makes clear, and echoing what Middlebury Sociology Professor Michael Sheridan freely admitted to a reporter the other day, few if any of the protestors have ever read Murray’s books. If they had, they would know that he’s been grossly mischaracterized. . . .
Meanwhile, the idea that Murray is anti-queer is especially odd: Murray was publicly pushing Republicans to support marriage equality before Hillary Clinton had flip-flopped on the issue.
If students (and especially professors, who really ought to know better) want to criticize an author, they should read what he’s written first. That so many clearly did not speaks to the deteriorating academic rigor of colleges today. If college students are not internalizing the need to engage primary sources, what exactly are they learning in their undergraduate years?
The ideology that has taken hold of academia is intellectually lazy and thus leads to sloppy, emotion-driven conclusions.
Well, to the promoters of this sort of thing, that’s not a bug but a feature.