Acts of violence and physical intimidation aimed at conservatives on American campuses are growing – and college administrators, who sympathize with the progressive fascist lynch mobs doing the misdeeds, are generally fine with the mayhem.
Although universities and colleges are supposed to be places where ideas are exchanged and challenged, they are easily the most reactionary institutions in modern American society. Confronting the established wisdom there is a career-ender. Free speech exists in theory but only within the narrowest of prescribed limits. Speakers who violate the politically correct canon are shouted down, demonized, and assaulted. Truly new ideas are anathema in the academy, at least in the humanities and social sciences.
Question identity politics, the cult of multiculturalism, or the evil inherent in white people and America, and your life in academia will be over before it begins.
“The cultural Marxism ideology that created identity politics in the first place now permeates the university far beyond the classroom,” opines Bruce Thornton, “and enables an intolerance for competing ideas, not to mention shutting down the ‘free play of the mind on all subjects’ that [English cultural critic] Matthew Arnold identified as the core mission of liberal education.”
And so the dominant illiberal ideology in higher education snuffs out its competition, marginalizing original thinking and combating intellectual diversity – and this weaponized intolerance spills over into the culture at large along the way. Free speech is a threat to the authoritarian glue that holds these taxpayer-supported warehouses of student indoctrination and conformity together, so it must be regulated. There is almost no life of the mind nowadays; there is the dictatorship of thought commissars. And woe to those who fail to toe the line.
“The thuggishness and violence of the Sixties demonstrations at their height exceeded what we see today,” Stanley Kurtz reflects. “Yet today’s chronic, pervasive, and steadily growing vise-grip of campus orthodoxy, punctuated and enforced by occasional shout-downs and meeting takeovers, is in its way more dangerous.”
There are plenty of indications that campus free speech is more besieged nowadays than it’s been in decades. Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and microaggressions signal a cultural sea-change. Anti-Israel shout-downs and disruptions have multiplied dramatically. These are no longer occasional embarrassing episodes but the fruit of a deliberate strategy devised by influential sectors of the campus left.
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