An unacceptable percentage of the University of California at Berkeley are more committed to ideological indoctrination and political conformity that they are to American values and education. They need to be cleared out, as do their compatriots in other universities. They pose an existential threat to our democracy, and cannot be entrusted with the education of young minds, which should involve opening, not closing them.
The letter posted by 200 Berkeley faculty members calls for a boycott of all classes and a shutdown of the campus because on “Free speech day,” three conservative speakers will dare to express their blasphemy in a progressive stronghold. The Horror.
In addition to being a per se violation of the principles of a liberal arts education, the duty to give students exposure to as many ideas and views as possible, academic freedom and freedom of expression, the letter is intellectually dishonest. There is no organization known as “alt-right”; it is a description used to marginalize and discredit all conservatives by lumping them in with extremists, racists, white supremacists and neo-fascists. It’s a popular and effective tactic these days on the Left, similar to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s unethical tactic of designating churches that oppose same-sex marriage “hate groups” alongside the KKK. Ann Coulter, one of the conservative speakers who apparently maims with her words, is just a conservative, albeit an especially obnoxious and cynical one. Yet this execrable letter cites as proof that she and her fellow speakers are dangerous a cherry-picked list of isolated and unrelated incidents, none of which are connected to a single group. The exact same technique could be used, and has been used, to argue that all Muslims are dangerous. Moreover, the faculty is implying that those who would listen to Ann Coulter, Steve Bannon, and the professional conservative troll Milo Yiannppoulis, including students, are too dangerous to co-exist with “good students.” Why? It’s not because one crazy ran his car into a crowd in Charlottesville. It’s because the faculty members believe extreme conservative ideas are too “dangerous” to allow to be expressed.
I wouldn’t move from my dining room to my living room to hear any of those speakers. Calling them dangerous, however, is an excuse to silence them and intimidate others.
Ironically, these alleged teachers are promoting a theory that is far, far more dangerous to Berkeley, and the concept of higher education, than anything Ann, Bannon and Milo could possibly say in their most outrageous moments. They are also, it seems, completely ignorant (or dishonestly misleading) regarding the First Amendment. Read, if you can stand it, this paragraph:
We recognize that as a public institution, we are legally bound by the Constitution to allow all viewpoints on campus. However, there are forms of speech that are not protected under the First Amendment. These include speech that presents imminent physical danger and speech that disrupts the university’s mission to educate. Milo, Coulter and Bannon do not come to educate; they and their followers come to humiliate and incite. If the administration insists upon allowing the Alt-Right to occupy the center of our campus for four days to harass, threaten and intimidate us, as they did during Milo’s visit in February, then faculty cannot teach, staff cannot work and students cannot learn.
What self-evident dishonesty. “We have to allow all viewpoints, except in this case, when we disagree with the viewpoints. ” I also like the tone: we have to allow all viewpoints. Heaven knows we don’t want to.
There is no authority for their statement implying that mere words become unprotected because an audience might react to it violently, or those who want to stop the speech. False. Inciting a riot by telling people to riot is unprotected, not espousing ideas that left-wing thugs think justifies attacking people. What do these faculty members teach, knitting? Nor is there the imaginary exception for “speech that disrupts the university’s mission to educate.” What would that be like? I guess it would be like a bunch of faculty members trying to shut down the university because they don’t like the politics of some speakers–wait…isn’t that what that letter is trying to do? If shutting down a campus isn’t “disrupting” education what is?
This what we call Ultimate Hypocrisy: unfairly condemning conduct that that the accused hasn’t engaged in while you are engaging in that same conduct. It is, mercifully, rare. It’s hard to do.
University Chancellor Carol Christ said, in an interview last week, “Free speech has itself become controversial.” It’s not controversial. It’s the law of the land. It is a core value of the the United States of America. If freedom of speech has become controversial in your faculty, then it is no longer trustworthy to serve as teachers in a state institution and a prestige university. A wacko Marxist or anti-American polemicist or two on a faculty is fine. Hundreds of censorious leftists seeking to muzzle opposing view and dissent while rendering students rigid and ideologically doctrinaire before they are 22? Unconscionable, un-American and irresponsible.
Pointer: Washington Free Beacon