The campus shout-down movement takes its next logical step

Recently, a friend who is enrolled in a graduate program at a prestigious university asked me whether I would be interesting in speaking to a group of students as part of series on public policy the program was holding. She said that all of the speakers so far have been liberal and that I would add a different perspective to the proceedings.

I responded, chidingly, that I might be risking life and limb if I participated. She assured me that I would be in no jeopardy because I am not a white supremacist.

I don’t really believe there would much real risk associated with speaking to a handful of graduate students at this university. However, the shout-down movement is not about preventing “white supremacists” from speaking. It is about enforcing left-wing orthodoxy (which, to be sure, now includes the notion that those who reject that orthodoxy are white supremacists).

Accordingly, the next logical steps in the shout-down movement are (1) to prevent speech by liberals who don’t embrace key tenets of radical leftism and (2) to prevent speech by mainstream conservatives and Republicans.

We discussed an example of the first phenomenon here. The second was on display the other day at UC Santa Cruz. Campus Reform reports:

A College Republicans meeting at the University of California, Santa Cruz was taken over by protesters screaming that the group’s existence is a threat to the safety of students.

Shortly after the CR meeting convened, one student entered the ground floor room of McHenry Library to ask attendees which group was assembling. After being informed that the meeting was a gathering of College Republicans, the student returned about 15-20 minutes later with company.

To muster his group of brownshirts, the student posted this on the official UCSC Student Facebook group:

White Supremacist, fascist sympathizing College Republicans are having a meeting at McHenry library, room 0332. Everybody be aware of this violent racist activity happening everyday on this campus! We need a movement of people on this campus that rejects the ‘right of assembly,’ or ‘right of free speech’ for white supremacists and fascists.

Heeding this call, lefty students disrupted the meeting by banging open the door to the meeting space and shouting accusations that the members were “fascists,” “racists,” and “white supremacists.” The College Republicans say they offered to discuss the concerns of the protesters. The brownshirts replied: “dialogue is violence.”

In these three words, they captured the essence of the shout-down movement, as well as the authoritarian nature of the emerging radical left. Claims that “dialogue is violence” are antithetical to democracy and to academic life in a free society. Those who act on such claims to curb free expression of any kind don’t belong in college. They should promptly be placed on the track to expulsion, e.g. through a “two-strikes and you’re out policy”.

The UC Santa Cruz leftist protesters demanded that the College Republicans leave the library. They even berated library staff members when they refused to shut down the pre-approved meeting.

One staff member eventually asked the Republicans to leave in order to end the disturbance. To their credit, the attendees refused.

Finally, after nearly two hours, school officials called the police. Reportedly, three protesters were arrested. All of the protesters should be disciplined by the college.

Stanley Kurtz, who is leading the charge against the shout-down movement, writes:

This incident is another warning that shout-downs are threatening to morph into generalized warfare. I mean that only partly metaphorically. How long before student groups, nose-to-nose in confrontation, resort to violence? We saw some violence at Middlebury. But if nothing is done to stop these shout-downs, Allison Stanger’s concussion and neck-brace will have been only the beginning.

I reminded the student-friend who invited me to speak to her classmates about Allison Stanger after the student promised, jokingly, to protect me from protesters.

Stanley concludes:

We can see that the campus free-speech crisis is escalating; that the targets of shout-downs are expanding; that the potential for violence is growing; and that the deadly anti-free speech culture purveyed by faculty and administrators alike is metastasizing.

He is right.