On Free Speech at the University of Minnesota: Not So Fast!

I wrote yesterday about a controversy at the University of Minnesota, where college Republicans (along with dozens of other organizations) painted panels on a bridge at the university. One said “Trump/Pence 2016,” while another said “Build the Wall.” These panels were defaced by liberals who wrote “Stop white supremacy” across them.


I praised University President Eric Kaler for releasing a statement on the episode that upheld free speech, but got an email this morning from a professor at the university who points out that the reaction by the institution as a whole was inadequate:

Although President Kaler has been great on this issue, other officials have not. Please read (and maybe expose) what’s in this MN Daily article. A university official is explicitly telling the College Republicans that she is going to sic the Bias Incident Team on them.

This is a U official abusing U students.


Heather C. Lou, assistant director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, said on Facebook that she and other University staff members would organize a support space for students on Monday.

“I recognize folks are feeling impacted by the xenophobic and racist statement on the bridge panels today. The UMN bias incident team has been contacted,” she said in the post.

So a statement to the effect that federal immigration law should be upheld, and a law that already calls for building a fence on the southern border should be carried out, is “xenophobic and racist” and demands investigation by the university’s “bias incident team.” This kind of thing has led to American universities being described as “islands of repression in a sea of freedom.”

Our correspondent continues:

The editorial by the MN Daily Staff is also appalling. It contains the phrase (regarding the “Build the Wall” statement) “But, much to our chagrin, we live in a community that protects their speech.”

I think it is generally recognized that liberals will repeal the Second Amendment at the first opportunity, which likely will come within the next four years if Hillary Clinton is elected president. We should take seriously the likelihood that the First Amendment is slated for extinction as well, except insofar as it relates to liberal media like the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, etc.

Our correspondent addressed a letter to the Minnesota Daily, the university’s student newspaper, that says in part:

“Build the Wall” is essentially shorthand for “The United States should invest in the infrastructure necessary to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, and we believe a wall on the nation’s southern border is indeed necessary for this purpose.” There are, of course, plenty of justifications for disagreeing with this statement: One could be for open immigration, believe our nation’s immigration laws are so unjust they shouldn’t be enforced, or simply believe that a wall is too costly in terms of money and/or optics. But the idea that one cannot legitimately advocate for the enforcement of our laws is absurd. Those claiming that the statement “Build the Wall” is beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse are either cynically attempting to define these bounds to exclude all but their preferred opinions, or are so genuinely offended and upset by hearing contrary opinions that having adult conversations with them regarding difficult issues is impossible. I don’t know which is worse.

For what it’s worth, my money is on the former option. The cynicism of the left is hard to overstate.