Some Powerless College Students Are The Greatest Threat To Free Speech The World Has Ever Known
Anyone who has spent a bit of time around especially elite college campuses knows that while, yes, sometimes students protest right wing speakers – sometimes this is perfectly right and good and sometimes you can argue that they go too far and the heckler’s veto is rarely if ever appropriate but these things are always a bit more complicated than people make them out to be – it’s pressure from the top that tends to discourage left wing speakers from coming to campus. There are academics and activists on the campus circuit who every knows are “controversial,” quite often because of rather strong left wing views on things like war, carceral state, economics, racial issues, etc. Black “radicals,” commies, Palestinian activists, etc. Watch those pots of money mysteriously disappear if you try to put your hands in them to fund a visit by one of these speakers. To put it simply, it’s not controversial at all to advocate invading a country for lies, and then profiting handsomely off of that, but it is controversial to suggest that maybe, just maybe, when police are executing people in your communities that something more than accepting it quietly is necessary. Military and cops are good, the poor and the marginalized are suspect. And these are our liberal institutions!
Anyway, the administration and money have the power and more importantly the need to cater to power. The kids have protest. People get very upset about the kids. It’s always revealing.
We see it all the time. Armed Nazis chant racist slogans and threaten millions with death and deportation, and kill people; the police are on their side. Young people with a better sense of morality than our national leaders protest because they must, and the New York Times and other organs of the status quo get the vapors about antifa. It plays out like that over and over again. The only criticism I have of that summary is that it isn’t just the elite colleges — it goes on at state and community colleges, too.
But it is true that the richer the university, the more conservative its administration. Look at Harvard; it’s prestigious, that is so, but it’s also run by people who have been promoted for their zealotry in defending the endowment and propping up the richest people in the country. See the ethical blindness they proudly exhibit in the dismissal of Chelsea Manning:
A member of Manning’s support team challenged Elmendorf to explain why Harvard was so anxious about giving her the title of “visiting fellow” when in the same roster of this year’s fellows they had included Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s former White House press secretary, and Trump’s former presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with assaulting a reporter during the 2016 race.
They noted what they suggested was the absurdity of honouring two prominent members of a presidential campaign notorious for its bending of the truth and controversial stances on race issues in America.
Elmendorf further alienated the Manning team by responding that Spicer and Lewandowski “brought something to the table” and could teach the Harvard audience something. That, for the recipients of the phone conversation, implied that the whistleblower by contrast had nothing to contribute.
That she was regarded as less useful to educating the Harvard audience than two corrupt frauds is not surprising; what was surprising is that she got an invitation in the first place. The corrupt frauds represent Harvard values better than someone who exposed corruption in the execution of the war in Afghanistan. The crime isn’t murdering civilians, in Harvard’s eyes, it’s revealing those murders to the world.