A conservative Wall Street Journal columnist, who writes about racial and other issues, has been disinvited from a scheduled lecture at Virginia Tech over concerns about his controversial political beliefs.
Jason Riley was invited to speak this fall at a lecture series hosted by the university’s business school, the BB&T Distinguished Lecture, but Virginia Tech administrators worried his opinions might provoke protests. “Mr. Riley, who is black, has attracted some negative attention since his publication in 2014 of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed,” wrote National Association of Scholars President Peter Wood Monday in National Review.
According to a memo obtained by Mr. Wood, the head of the Virginia Tech Finance Department, Professor Vijay Singal, vetoed the speaking arrangement. He worried the campus was still recovering from the last BB&T Distinguished Lecture, which was delivered by Charles Murray on March 25.
“The head of the finance department had not initially objected to Riley as the next BB&T speaker but later, when he realized that Riley had ‘written about race issues’ in the Wall Street Journal, he decided Riley would have to go,” Mr. Wood reported.
Mr. Riley joins a growing list of pundits, intellectuals and statesmen who have been disinvited from speaking at universities for holding controversial political beliefs.
After National Review broke the story, a Virginia Tech official claimed that Mr. Riley’s invitation had been revoked because it had never been extended in the first place.
As part of the lecture series, he said, the finance department invites one speaker to the campus each semester. A faculty member had reached out to Mr. Riley to weigh his interest in speaking, Mr. Sumichrast said, but an invitation was never extended, and the faculty member “does not represent the committee’s voice.” The committee instead selected Robert J. Barro, a professor of economics at Harvard, to speak.
Mr. Riley rejected that characterization in an interview with The Roanoke Times.“I don’t buy this line that I wasn’t invited,” he told the newspaper on Tuesday. “Based on my understanding of the English language, it sounded like an invitation to me.”
Indeed. Riley posted a copy of the letter on Twitter Wednesday. It includes the sentence: “My purpose in writing is to invite you to give the fall 2016 lecture here at Blacksburg.”
— Jason Riley (@jasonrileywsj) May 4, 2016
Riley wrote in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday that “we’ve reached a point where conservatives must have their campus speakers pre-approved by left-wing pressure groups.” He concluded that “if progressives aren’t already in absolute control of academia, they’re pretty close.”
The left still pretends they believe in free speech because there remains some degree of shame and stigma associated with censorship in American society.
I guess we’ll know for sure that they’ve reached “absolute control” when schools don’t even bother to lie about censoring conservatives anymore.