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Heather Mac Donald warns: Higher ed insanity nearly past the point of no return

Fresh off a week during which she was shouted down at UCLA by Black Lives Matter student agitators and had her speech at Claremont McKenna College shut down by a mob of  self-righteous student protesters, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald has weighed in on being the latest target of alt-left ire.

Mac Donald, author of “The War on Cops,” wrote about what the rowdy protesters that disrupted and impeded her recent speeches means for higher education in City Journal:

Last week’s events should be the final wakeup call to the professoriate, coming on the heels of the more dangerous attacks on Charles Murray at Middlebury College and the riots in Berkeley, California, against Milo Yiannapoulos. When speakers need police escort on and off college campuses, an alarm bell should be going off that something has gone seriously awry.

Of course, an ever-growing part of the faculty is the reason that police protection is needed in the first place. Professors in all but the hardest of hard sciences increasingly indoctrinate students in the belief that to be a non-Asian minority or a female in America today is to be the target of nonstop oppression, even, uproariously, if you are among the privileged few to attend a fantastically well-endowed, resource-rich American college. Those professors also maintain that to challenge that claim of ubiquitous bigotry is to engage in “hate speech,” and that such speech is tantamount to a physical assault on minorities and females. As such, it can rightly be suppressed and punished. To those faculty, I am indeed a fascist, and a white supremacist, with the attendant loss of communication rights.

Hyperbole is part and parcel of political speech. But I would hope that there are some remaining faculty with enough of a lingering connection to reality who would realize that I and other conservatives are not a literal threat to minority students. To try to prevent me or other dissenting intellectuals from connecting with students is simply an effort to maintain the Left’s monopoly of thought. The fact that this suppression goes under the title of “anti-fascism” is particularly rich. I am reluctant to wield the epithet “fascist” as promiscuously as my declared opponents do. But it must be observed that if campus conservatives tried to use physical force to block Senator Elizabeth Warren, say, from giving a speech, the New York Times would likely put the obstruction on the front page and the phrase “fascist” would be flying around like a swarm of hornets, followed immediately by the epithet “misogynist.” And when students and their fellow anarchists start breaking glass, destroying businesses, and assaulting perceived opponents, as they did during the Milo riots and at Middlebury College, it is hard not to hear echoes of 1930s fascism.

It is not enough for professors to sign statements in support of free speech (and surprisingly few have actually done so). When word goes out of a plan to “shut down” non-conforming political views, that plan must be taken deadly seriously. Claremont McKenna took obvious pains to protect my talk, but they were not enough.

… The mark of any civilization is its commitment to reason and discourse. The great accomplishment of the European enlightenment was to require all forms of authority to justify themselves through rational argument, rather than through coercion or an unadorned appeal to tradition. The resort to brute force in the face of disagreement is particularly disturbing in a university, which should provide a model of civil discourse.

But the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.

Read the full piece.

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