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What a liberal university used to mean

In defense of the offensive

I recall my elementary school science teacher’s story of when a Neo-Nazi gave a speech at UC Berkeley in the mid-60s. It was her first year there, and she was unsure what to make of the atmosphere. Around 250 Berkeley students and community members listened carefully as the Nazi spoke. As a Jew whose family had recently fled Europe because of anti-Semitism, the talk was shocking. But she stayed and listened politely like the other students. After the talk was over, the audience did not rush the stage, chant or even call the man names. They were even more devastating. They asked questions using logic and history, confusing and confounding the unabashed racist. They made him look like a fool. Somewhere along the way, the bulk of college progressives abandoned this method of dealing with people with whom we disagree.

I know my example is extreme. You may justifiably say it’s unreasonable to expect students to be respectful of those promoting genocide, but the targets of political censorship in 2017 are not limited to Neo-Nazis, or even alt-right trolls. Middlebury students silenced social scientist Charles Murray by shouting “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. Charles Murray, go away” before destroying his car. Berkeley students attempted to cancel a speech by liberal comedian Bill Maher because of his comments criticizing radical Islam. If we have the intellectual tools to debate these people on a level ground, it should be unnecessary to silence them. Macalester students have the privilege of getting one of the greatest educations in the history of mankind. It is counterproductive to deprive ourselves of conversations that might make us uncomfortable. These conversations are as rewarding as they are difficult, but they require us to talk to those who offend us, instead of isolating and humiliating them. As Victorian novelist Goerge Eliot put it, “the last refuge of intolerance is in not tolerating the intolerant.”
     — Jacob Hill


A microcosm of the maddening mix of Progressive hate, ignorance, and nonsense at an American college

Unlike those other American colleges, however, Macalester is never in the news. I suspect this is because no student or faculty member would ever dream of inviting to the campus someone who doesn’t meet the Progressive purity scale. Without any opposing views, there is no call for violence.

It was therefore a great and pleasant surprise to discover that one young man is defending the free exchange of ideas. What moved Jacob Hill to write was the fact that the staff of the college radio station, perfectly emulating a Maoist re-education camp, grouped together to castigate a fellow employee for having dared to place on the college Facebook page a meme that “satirized the prevalence of white Adidas sneakers among women who claim not to conform to societal norms.” I’m having trouble envisioning how offensive such a meme could be but for the student’s cohorts at the radio station, it was a bridge too far.
     — Bookworm

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