Controversial author and scholar Charles Murray and a Middlebury College professor were attacked by an angry mob Thursday night as they left a campus building following an attempt at a lecture.
Professor Allison Stanger’s neck was injured when someone pulled her hair as she tried to shield Murray from 20 to 30 violent agitators who attacked the pair outside the McCullough Student Center at Vermont’s traditionally liberal Middlebury College.
According to Bill Burger, vice president of communications at the college, the crowd was made up of students and “outside agitators,” some of whom wore masks as they screamed at Murray. He described their behavior outside as “incredibly violent and said that “it was a very, very dangerous situation.”
Charles Murray is a political scientist and author who is best known for his 1994 book, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, co-written with Richard Herrnstein. The New York Times bestseller is controversial for linking social inequality to genetics. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labels Murray a white nationalist on its website.
Via Vermont’s “Independent Voice” Seven Days:
“The demonstrators were trying to block Mr. Murray and Professor Stanger’s way out of the building and to the car,” Burger said. “It became a pushing and shoving match, with the officers trying to protect those two people from demonstrators — and it became violent.”
“This was an incredibly violent confrontation,” added Burger, who described the crowd a “mob.”
On Friday afternoon, Middlebury College president Laurie Patton sent a statement to all students, faculty and staff describing how “deeply disappointed” she was by the incident.
“I know that many students, faculty, and staff who were in attendance or waiting outside to participate were upset by the events, and the lost opportunity for those in our community who wanted to listen to and engage with Mr. Murray,” she wrote, later adding: “I extend my sincerest apologies to everyone who came in good faith to participate in a serious discussion, and particularly to Mr. Murray and Prof. Stanger for the way they were treated during the event and, especially, afterward.”
Murray had been invited and scheduled to speak at Wilson Hall earlier in the day. But a jeering and booing crowd of students turned their backs on him and shouted down his attempts to speak. After about 25 minutes, administrators resorted to plan B: moving Murray to a private room and streaming the video of his speech online.
Seven Days added:
Students continued to make a ruckus as Murray spoke from the private room with occasional questions from Stanger, a professor of international politics and economics.
About half an hour after the event ended, Burger said, the two, accompanied by a college administrator and two public safety officers, tried to leave the building via a back entrance and hurry to a car.
At this point, the disruptive “protest” escalated as agitators surrounded various entrances, swarming the fleeing Murray and Stanger as they exited.
“Professor Allison Stanger was assaulted and her neck was injured when someone pulled her hair as she tried to shield Murray from the 20 or 30 people who attacked the duo outside the McCullough Student Center,” said Burger.
The mob followed the pair out to their car and once they were inside, began jumping on the hood and banging on the windows, according to Burger.
The driver tried to inch out of the parking space but the angry crowd surrounded the vehicle and tried to keep it from leaving.
Burger said someone threw a stop sign attached to a heavy cement base in front of the car. It finally got free of the crowd and then left campus.
Members of the campus public safety department who were unarmed “put themselves in harm’s way to permit this car to leave,” Burger said. “It was a very, very dangerous situation.”
Officers from the Middlebury Police Department finally arrived on the scene, but it’s not known if any arrests were made.
The school is looking into arrests and other disciplinary actions for “what were clearly violations of our policy,” Burger said. Administrators are also reviewing video and pictures from the protest/riot to discover who was involved.
“It’s fair to say this is consuming a lot of our time,” he said.
Professor Stanger was rushed to the emergency room for treatment of her injury and now wears a neck brace, according to Burger. Murray was not injured.
Burger said, “We were prepared for the disruption of the event, which is why we prepared the backup plan for the live stream.” He added, “We were caught by surprise by the violent acts as Mr. Murray and Professor Stanger left the building.”
The Middlebury riot comes approximately one month after a violent riot at the University of California, Berkeley, forced a planned lecture by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to be canceled.
Alex Prolman, who helped organize the protest against Murray’s lecture, said he is not a student but a “concerned community member.” He helped write news releases and described his role as connecting students with members of the press for coverage of the event.
“There was a plan from the students that had emerged to prevent Murray from speaking, and I think they were largely successful in that,” said Prolman, who attended the lecture.
Reached by phone Friday morning, Prolman, a Burlington resident, said he was headed to the Middlebury campus for a student meeting about next steps. He declined to say much about what happened outside the building.
“I’m still a little hesitant to comment on this at this point,” he told Seven Days.
Poleman is an organizer from “Rising Tide Vermont,” a radical environmental group based in Burlington, Vt.
According to Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the SPLC also helped incite the hatred that led to the violence at Middlebury College. It wouldn’t be the first time their efforts to brand people they don’t like with hateful labels has led to violence.
Propaganda being used to “Gin up attacks” against social undesirables, aka “Deplorables,” is also nothing new, as Ace of Spades sagely noted.