News & Politics

University of Oregon President Likens Student Protesters to Fascists

Students protest against President-elect Donald J. Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in Portland, Ore., on January 19, 2017. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy) (Sipa via AP Images)

The president of the University of Oregon had some harsh words for students in an op-ed for the New York Times. Michael Schill was responding to the antics of social justice jihadis during his state of the university address. In particular, he’d had it with their efforts to silence anyone who dares disagree with anything they say or think:

Armed with a megaphone and raised fists, the protesters shouted about the university’s rising tuition, a perceived corporatization of public higher education and my support for free speech on campus — a stance they said perpetuated “fascism and white supremacy.”

I have nothing against protest. It is a time-honored form of communicating dissent. Often, the concerns students express very much deserve to be addressed. But the tactic of silencing, which has been deployed repeatedly at universities around the country, only hurts these activists’ cause. Rather than helping people who feel they have little power or voice, students who squelch speech alienate those who are most likely to be sympathetic to their message.

It is also ironic that they would associate fascism with the university during a protest in which they limit discourse. One of the students who stormed the stage during my talk told the news media to “expect resistance to anyone who opposes us.” That is awfully close to the language and practices of those the students say they vehemently oppose.

There’s a reason it’s awfully close.

Regardless of what kind of nomenclature statists adopt, they’re still ultimately statists. They all believe that a select few should make all the significant decision in everyone’s lives. What they quibble on are the details, and that’s where things get nasty.

In this case, the difference between a neo-Nazi and an SJW isn’t whether they judge people by the color of their skin — both do. They just apply different values to different DNA.

The difference between a socialist and a fascist isn’t managed economy versus free market economy. The difference is in the kind of managed economy, and it’s not a clear distinction.

They both employ similar tactics. Neither has a fondness for free speech.

Through it all, they fail to realize how they’re pushing people away. As Schill notes, these antics tend to alienate those who would be most inclined to listen. It’s true. People who only a few years before would have taken their spurious claims of racism seriously are now blowing off those claims outright.

Schill points out that reasonable discourse can work, citing his own experiences at the University of Oregon, and he’s not wrong. I’m far more willing to listen if you approach me as a human being rather than screaming at me like some obstinate beast. Most people are the same way.

But that won’t stop the screaming, unfortunately.

Hat tip: The College Fix