The Intolerant Left

Last week at Boulder’s Conference on World Affairs I was placed on a panel about the subject of “alternative facts”—that wonderful phrase of Kellyanne Conway’s that sent the media and the left (but I repeat. . .) into paroxysms of rage. As I mentioned before, the sound failed on the video of my opening remarks (I’m hoping a backup audio recording may come available), which is too bad, as I made the following argument: The idea that “facts” and “truth” can be twisted or contested in a “post-truth era” is a problem created entirely by the postmodern left. I’ve dilated this issue on Power Line here and here. So, I said in my closing provocation to Boulderites, “I don’t see what your problem is.” And dropped the hand-held mic.

Fresh evidence of how the left exists in a “post-truth” world in which their will is their highest value comes from Claremont, scene of the disgrace over the mob preventing Heather Mac Donald from speaking two weeks ago. The president of Pomona College, an invertebrate named David Oxtoby, issued a statement about the college’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom:

I am troubled by last night’s events, during which access to a speaking event was blocked and, as a result, community members were unable to attend a lecture at Claremont McKenna College’s Athenaeum. We remain fully committed to the exercise of free speech and academic freedom at Pomona College, while affirming the value of nondiscrimination and condemning racism in all forms.

Colleges and universities have a unique opportunity and responsibility to bring challenging issues forward for dialogue, even by those with whom we may disagree or whose speech we find offensive. Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses. What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society. Our shared commitment to these values is critical to educating leaders who are prepared to craft solutions to the most complex problems we face.

Pretty much par for the course. As usual there is no suggestion of any consequences for students who disrupt speakers they disagree with.

But this aroused the student left at Claremont, who issued a statement that not only denied the value of free speech, but also demanded an investigation and censorship of the Claremont Independent, the conservative student newspaper at the Claremont Colleges. The original document seems to have been taken down (at least the Google Docs link right now shows nothing), but the Claremont Independent has captured the best parts:

“Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry,” they write.

“Thus, if ‘our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,’” the students continue, citing Oxtoby’s letter, “how does free speech uphold that value?”

Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–‘the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”

“Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live. Why are you [President Oxtoby], and other persons in positions of power at these institutions, protecting a fascist and her hate speech and not students that are directly affected by her presence?”

“We also demand that Pomona College and the Claremont University Consortium entities take action against the Claremont Independent editorial staff for its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds. Provided that the Claremont Independent releases the identity of students involved with this letter and such students begin to receive threats and hate mail, we demand that this institution and its constituents take legal action against members of the Claremont Independent involved with the editing and publication process as well as disciplinary action, such as expulsion on the grounds of endangering the wellbeing of others.”

There you have it. The intolerant left disdains objectivity and truth, on the tacit claim that they have a monopoly on “truth.” How they know this they cannot explain by any known language or system of logic that I can fathom. Back to the pre-Enlightenment! All hail subjectivity! But don’t forget the left stands for tolerance!

Twenty students signed this open letter. Twenty students whose parents ought to ask for their tuition money back, as the Claremont Colleges have clearly failed in their educational mission.

Responses

Books to read from Power Line