The Closing of the Collegiate Mind
Way back in 1987, Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students saw the problem early on.
In order to understand what’s been going on at some of our college campuses, it’s necessary to explore the ideology that provides the impetus for a lot of the protesters who violently obstruct events, pull fire alarms, assault professors and even other students, and the impetus for administrators who all too often humor these protesters. It’s called illiberalism.
Here’s an example: Psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University published an essay in The New York Times suggesting that words should be seen as physical violence because they can cause stress and stress causes physical harm. Thus, Feldman suggested it is reasonable scientifically speaking to ban or restrict speech you do not like at your school.
This is both inane and dangerous and a statement fully encamped in the idiocracy. That’s because it leads to the final illogical step, words you don’t like deserve to be fought physically.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2019, President Trump made a promise to protect free speech on college campuses across the country. Conservative activist Hayden Williams joined him on stage as an example of the need for protected free speech. While assisting the University of California at Berkeley’s Turning Point USA chapter, he was punched in the face by an individual who did not agree with him. The President announced he would soon sign an executive order requiring colleges to take measures to protect our Constitutional right to free speech if they want to continue receiving federal money.
Williams is not the only person whose rights has been violated on a college campus. Several colleges have cancelled or banned Conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopulos. FIRE tracks disinvitation attempts across all campuses noting whether the action was from the Right or the Left. Since 2000, they have recorded 379 instances, with nearly 25% of those occurring from 2016-2018 alone. In those two years, 82% of disinvitations have been because of the Left’s doing.
Organizations like Speech First and Alliance Defending Freedom are fighting against these injustices by representing students who have been mistreated. Even the Department of Justice has weighed in on several of these cases. They are ensuring that students will be able to think and speak freely for many generations to come. President Trump’s executive order would aid in that fight.