George Orwell said, “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” If one wants to discover the truth of Orwell’s statement, he need only step upon most college campuses.
Faculty leaders of the University of California consider certain statements racism and feel they should not be used in class. They call it micro-aggression. To them, micro-aggressive racist statements are: “America is the land of opportunity.” That is seen as perpetuating the myth of meritocracy. “There is only one race, the human race.” Such a statement is seen as denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” That’s “racist” because it gives the impression that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.”
These expressions don’t exhaust the list of micro-aggressions. Other seemingly innocuous statements deemed unacceptable are: “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” “When I look at you, I don’t see color,” or “Affirmative action is racist.” Perhaps worst of all is, “Where are you from or where were you born?” For more of this, see a document released by The College Fix (http://tinyurl.com/ne8ckqn) titled “Diversity in the Classroom,” UCLA Diversity and Faculty Development.
This micro-aggression nonsense, called micro-totalitarianism by my colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell (http://tinyurl.com/nxulxc), is nothing less than an attack on free speech. From the Nazis to the Stalinists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, and why is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. Free speech is a basic tool for indoctrination, propagandizing, proselytization. Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.
Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page, writes about the campus attack on free speech and different ideas in his article titled “Obama Unleashes the Left: How the government created a federal hunting license for the far left” (http://tinyurl.com/mp5x428).
He says that in the Harvard Crimson, an undergraduate columnist wrote: “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice. When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.” The student was calling for the suppression of the research of conservative Harvard government professor Harvey Mansfield.
Oberlin College proposed that its teachers be aware of politically controversial topics such as “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, capitalism and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The presumption that students must be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.
Last year Vassar College faculty and students held a meeting to discuss the school’s movement to boycott Israel. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue would “not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.” That professor’s vision differs little from Adolf Hitler’s brown-shirted thugs of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party in their effort to crush dissent.
Azusa Pacific University “postponed” a speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Brandeis University officials rescinded their invitation to Somali writer and American Enterprise Institute scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam were said to have violated the school’s “core values.” Brandeis officials claimed that allowing her to speak would be hurtful to Muslim students.
Western values of liberty are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality before the law with entitlement. As such, they pose a far greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist organization or rogue nation. Leftist ideas are a cancer on our society. Ironically, we not only are timid in response, but also nourish those ideas with our tax dollars and charitable donations.
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Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.