Listening to liberal college administrators waxing poetic from their ivory towers, one might conclude the greatest threat to higher education is not helicopter parents who turn students into helpless babes, or a chronic lack of civics education among incoming freshman, but rather “Diversity” -- the new Holy Grail of post-secondary education. Campus bureaucrats have dumped millions of taxpayerdollars into “diversity training” materials and mandated courses based on theories such as one that concludes it is racist to expect punctuality in others. In this higher education alt universe, it is taught also that gender can take on any shape, form, or color. Deliberately missing from this world view of “diversity,” of course, is any notion of diversity in speech and thought.
Take, for instance, the recent protest of Heather Mac Donald, a well-known journalist and current fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her scheduled presentation earlier this month at Claremont McKenna College on law enforcement, was short-circuited by violent protestors. As in similar incidents, the demonstrators appeared to have no actual understanding of who Mac Donald was or what she advocated; believing simply that she was “pro-cop” and did not align with the protestors was sufficient for them to use violence to silence her.
Adding to the absurdity surrounding Mac Donald’s visit to Claremont McKenna, students at Pomona College, a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium, justified the protest of Mac Donald in a letter calling free speech “a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions…[giving] those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry,” while labeling the search for truth – a fundamental premise of classical education – a “myth” of “white supremacy.” The utter stupidity of this argument would be laughable if not for the danger of its implications, in which violence is the inevitable and acceptable conclusion.
For proof, one need look no further than the recent violence at the University of California at Berkeley, instigated by radical leftist demonstrators in response to speech they declared unfit for their campus. Tragically, this scenario depicts the future of college campuses if permitted to flourish without opposition. Yet, even with the writing on the wall, this is exactly how many campus administrators across the country have chosen to respond – doing nothing. It is as if they hope by ignoring the problem, it will go away. In reality, this naïve, hands-off approach only emboldens the thugs.
Perhaps even more disturbing than the infuriating-but-predictable inaction of liberal college administrators is the complicity of government authorities in allowing this violent behavior to go unpunished. As noted in the recent Berkeley protests of Milo Yiannopoulos, police stood on the sidelines as liberal anti-fascist fascists (yes, here too irony is lost completely on them) turned the campus into a war zone. It does not take rocket science to understand how in the absence of any down side to using violence as a protest, violence continues to escalate; no surprise, then, that last weekend’s Trump rally at Berkeley ended in violence as masked thugs decided to put a stop to the event with force.
If students, and faculty, and administrators, and local law enforcement including police and prosecutors, all refuse to take this threat to free speech seriously, is it now appropriate for the federal government to step in? Trump was originally mocked for suggesting U.C. Berkeley should lose federal funding for refusing to address campus violence in response to free speech events; yet, what other option is there?
Clearly, conditions are not improving in higher education; in fact, all signs point to a worsening trend if corrective action is not taken immediately. Especially at public colleges and universities, protecting free speech is a fundamental duty of elected and appointed officials associated with such schools; including officials with the administration in Washington, the Congress, state governors and legislatures. If revocation of federal or state funding is what it takes to get the attention of college administrators, then that is what must be done for the sake of protecting the integrity of public institutions of higher education and those students who actually desire to learn.
It may also be time for Attorney General Sessions to task his Civil Rights Division lawyers to re-focus their Obama-era efforts targeting police officers, to campus officials at state-run colleges and universities who are using their authority to deny students the ability to enjoy the civil right of an education for which they and the taxpayers are paying.