Student protesters at the University of Michigan weren’t objecting to Charles Murray’s most recent work Coming Apart when they repeatedly tried to shut down the libertarian social scientist’s talk on his book about the white working class.
But the “45 minutes of pandemonium” – uninterrupted save for hollow rebuke from an empty suit – showed that college campuses are “coming apart as well, not over class but over a deep intellectual intolerance for any voice that falls to the right of the center,” one of the student organizers of the event writes in The New York Times.
Jesse Arm recounts the extensive preparation by his group, the campus chapter of Murray’s American Enterprise Institute, in coordination with UMich administrators to be ready for protesters whipped into a frenzy by weeks of denunciations of the coming “white supremacy” event:
Chants of “racist, sexist, K.K.K., Charles Murray go away,” indecipherable shouting, earsplitting cellphone alarms and “The Imperial March,” Darth Vader’s theme in “Star Wars,” drowned out his words.
At one point during that chaotic hour, a university spokesman, Rick Fitzgerald, took to the stage. He called on the protesters to stop shutting down the speaker or further measures would be taken. The boorish behavior continued. Further measures were never taken. …
Over a dozen University of Michigan police officers stood by. No one was removed from the event.
The last gasp of mindless protest came from a graduate student who took the stage and stole Murray’s lectern, then the brownshirts marched out en masse, Arm says:
Mr. Murray spent the remainder of his time lecturing on what he was invited to speak about: The 2016 election and how we got stuck with President Trump, whom Mr. Murray fiercely opposes.
Arm stresses he and his fellow organizers “weren’t naive” about Murray and past student reactions to his appearances, but “we feel it is important to make an unequivocal statement that we believe universities should remain bastions of civil debate and tolerance”:
Should the totalitarian attitudes of those very students who smear Mr. Murray as a fascist be able to intimidate their peers into shutting down voices that disrupt their ideological “safe space”? … We think not.
If given the chance, we’d invite Mr. Murray again.