Campus Madness: Censorship at DePaul, Moral Bullying at University of Houston

Guy Benson
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Posted: Aug 02, 2016 1:06 PM
Campus Madness: Censorship at DePaul, Moral Bullying at University of Houston

Leftists from coast to coast are pronouncing themselves alarmed and mystified by the rise of Donald Trump.  Some would be well-served to take a long, hard look in the mirror. For many Americans, Trump is a walking, talking middle finger to the Left's stifling culture of weaponized political correctness -- which Mary Katharine Ham and I tackled on our book, End of Discussion.  The over-the-top, debate-stifling environment that illiberal liberals have stoked for years as a means of delegitimizing opponents is poisoning virtually every corner of American life.  For many, a vote for Trump is (at least in part) a public rejection of this outrage industry, a scourge that is perhaps most acute and absurd in academia.  As Sophie and Katie wrote yesterday, the on-campus Left has claimed two fresh scalps this week: Up first is DePaul University in Chicago -- an embarrassing hotbed of closed-minded, anti-intellectual intolerance --where conservative author Ben Shapiro has been barred from delivering a lecture.  The college's handy excuse for shutting down the long-planned event "security" concerns, as administrators say they cannot guarantee safety and order at a speech that may "trigger" students and lead to violence.  DePaul is silencing conservative speech because of the threat of anti-conservative violence.  This amounts to a disgusting heckler's veto; it incentivizes and rewards the worst kind of behavior:

Bob Janis, Vice President of Facilities Operations at DePaul, in an email to the DePaul YAF chapter’s executive board, said, "Given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allow him to speak on our campus at this time.”

YAF blasted the decision as an embarrassment to the school, which of course is true. It's a disgrace.  Meanwhile, at the University of Houston, the student body Vice President has been hit with sanctions for a personal Facebook message she posted after the massacre of police officers in Dallas.  Campus Reform has a screen-grab of the since-renounced note:

First off, it is insane that the Leftist mob considers "all lives matter" to constitute a controversial or punishable sentiment.  While some people unfairly impugn the BLM movement, or misunderstand the emphasis behind its name, affirming the value of all human life is objectively inoffensive.  Smearing people as racists for employing it (or booing them) is counter-productive and alienating moral bullying. Secondly, as Sophie mentioned in her post, this student (who happens to be a young woman of color) is being actively disciplined for her thought crime: She's been stripped of her officials duties for nearly two months, she's being subjected to financial damages, and she'll be forced to undergo a "diversity" re-education program.  All of this, despite prostrating herself before the braying hounds with abject apologies for thinking and expressing the wrong things.  Pummeled into submission, she has noted her disagreement with the student government's decisions, but vows to abide by them.  If she were to play by their bare-knuckles rules, she'd sue for unjust financial and reputational harm.  She could make a case in court that her rights were violated by her public university.  She could also engage in cynical turnabout by accusing her critics of anti-Indian bigotry and misogyny.  Why are they bullying a woman of color?  Do they believe that my 'brown' life doesn't matter?  It seems as though Shane Smith -- the white, cis-gendered male student body president who announced the 'corrective' actions against Ms. Sethi -- should really check his privilege.  Instead, she's accepting defeat.  The perpetual outrage circus wins again.  Kudos are due, however, to one member of the student government's "supreme court" (::eyeroll:) who resigned in protest over this travesty:

“Nobody has a right to destroy another for their sincerely held beliefs,” Wiltshire contends. “You can debate. You can argue. You can even be an ass. What you can’t do is grind someone down so far that their life changes.” Wiltshire particularly laments the impact that the controversy will have on his vice president. “The leaders of BLM on our campus, either through reckless abandon or purposeful calculation, have gotten the media involved in a way that is sure to create negative press for Rohini in particular,” he writes. “The end result is that an anonymous crowd will attempt to destroy the career and future livelihood of a good person.”

A frighteningly rare, principled voice in the wilderness.  I'll leave you with a Washington Post column written by a libertarian law professor lamenting how Donald Trump's political ascendancy may actually end up empowering the forces of political correctness:

Political correctness feeds on the perception that right of center political views are really just a cover for racism, ethnic bias, religious bigotry, and sexism. If conservatives and libertarians are really just promoters of white supremacy, there is no reason to take them seriously, and little will be lost if their views are suppressed by speech codes, “safe zones,” and the like. That perception is massively reinforced when Trump does things like call Hispanic immigrants “killers” and “rapists,” claim that a Mexican-American judge’s ethnicity should disqualify him from hearing a case involving Trump University, call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, advocate the massacre of innocent relatives of suspected Muslim terrorists, and generally indulge in rhetoric that differs little from that of David Duke...To the extent conservatives have embraced him, they validate the PC left’s claim that they are at best indifferent to bigotry and at worst active supporters of it...

There is also a second, more subtle, way in which Trumpism promotes PC-ism. Like the PC left, Trump views the world as a zero-sum game: Americans can only gain by being “winners” in competition with foreigners; progress for white workers require shutting out Hispanic immigrants, and so on. Such zero-sum thinking is not just a campaign ploy; it is at the heart of Trump’s entire world-view, since long before he ran for president. And it will surely be a major influence on what he does in the White House. Trump’s advocacy of zero-sum identity politics for whites is the mirror image of the identity politics of the PC far left. Both assume that minority groups can only really prosper at the expense of whites, and vice versa. The growth of zero-sum identity politics on one side of the ethnoracial divide naturally strengthens it on the other, as well.

Read the whole thing, including his rejoinder to a colleague who responded to this column by asserting that yes, Trump's success does prove that the right-wing is a cauldron of intolerance and bigotry. His retort is strong, and it includes a link to a fascinating and disturbing column exposing the stunningly amoral radicalism of Bernie Sanders as a counterpoint.  Alas, I fear this election cycle will perpetuate a vicious cycle: Average people who are turned off by the vengeful PC-run-amok culture will seek ways to rebel against it, while the practitioners of ideological censorship will seize on the less constructive forms of rebellion as 'vindication' for their silencing methods.