News & Politics

Former Berkeley Chancellor Worries That Icky People Academics Don't Like Are Taking Over

(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

College campuses in the United States have been hotbeds of controversy for all of the wrong reasons in recent years. The progressives who long ago took over academia have been systematically trying to destroy due process and free speech in pursuit of a far-left agenda.

This week, The Washington Post featured an opinion piece from a former Berkeley chancellor that addressed the issue and the result was a convoluted attack on all of the icky people that academics don’t like.

There is no doubt that public concern about the vitality of free speech and political debate on American college campuses has legitimate causes. However, the current round of attacks – from the extreme right and left — is a pretext. It is part of a broader assault on the idea of the university itself: on its social functions, on the fundamental importance of advanced knowledge and enlightened debate, on the critical role of science and expertise in public policy and on the significance of intellectuals and serious thought leaders more generally.

Here is the best part — the author blames it on a false narrative:

The headlines took hold not just because of Berkeley’s historical – and now iconic — relationship to free speech, but because they played into the narrative that college campuses in recent years have morphed into cocoons of political correctness that, in their effort to provide safe environments in which students can live and learn, have shifted from policing protesters to policing speech. This narrative has been so strong in certain quarters that conservative support for universities appears to be at an all-time low.

In a bubble world — which is where most academics live — this might be believable. That this was written just a couple of months after the PC inmates took over the campus asylum to threaten a professor and demand that all white people leave campus makes the premise absurd.

It should also be noted that his assertion that “conservative support for universities appears to be at an all-time low” is unsubstantiated. Qualifying words like “appears” tend to be glossed over, however, so it is a safe bet that the average Post reader will take it as gospel.

The author isn’t done. He has an even more fantastical assertion:

The ideas in these bills draw from language developed and promulgated by the Goldwater Institute, a right-wing think tank that has been actively campaigning to introduce more conservative political views on American campuses. These recent bills, however, do much more than introduce ideas, for they are concerted efforts to take direct political control over public colleges and universities.

The notion that college campuses not named “Hillsdale” are in imminent danger of being taken over by conservatives is so absurd that one wonders whether the author is concussed.

This is merely an attempt by a biased news outlet to allow a biased academic to defend continuing bias against conservatives on America’s college campuses.

If the former chancellor believes his premise to be true, let him try to sponsor a new conservative organization at his former school.