If there’s a hopeful sign on today’s college campuses, it’s that we’re seeing more and more avowed liberal professors finally take a public stand against the intolerance that has become common among hard-left students. This intolerance, driven by social media and the leftist blogosphere, has made free speech an endangered idea in the world of academia. And thanks to the wishy-washy approach of appeasement on many campuses – especially when it comes to sensitive racial issues – these young men and women have been emboldened to take their intolerance of free speech further and further. There IS no college professor far ENOUGH to the left to satisfy these freaks, and it is past time that those who make their living in academia put them in their place.
Thankfully, that’s beginning to happen.
Take Professor Lucia Martinez Valdivia of Reed College. No one would mistake Valdivia for one of those dreadful, evil conservatives. An assistant professor of English and humanities, Valdivia describes herself as a “gay, mixed-race woman with PTSD,” and one can imagine that her classes reflect the sort of ideological standpoint that one would expect from someone who identifies as such. But in her Washington Post op-ed, she admits that even she does not meet the “ideological purity test” that she and so many of her colleagues are subjected to by extremists on campus.
“At Reed College in Oregon, where I work, a group of students began protesting the required first-year humanities course a year ago,” she writes. “Three times a week, students sat in the lecture space holding signs — many too obscene to be printed here — condemning the course and its faculty as white supremacists, as anti-black, as not open to dialogue and criticism, on the grounds that we continue to teach, among many other things, Aristotle and Plato.
“In the interest of supporting dissent and the free exchange of ideas, the faculty and administration allowed this,” she says. “Those who felt able to do so lectured surrounded by those signs for the better part of a year. I lectured, but dealt with physical anxiety — lack of sleep, nausea, loss of appetite, inability to focus — in the weeks leading up to my lecture. Instead of walking around or standing at the lectern, as I typically do, I sat as I tried to teach students how to read the poetry of Sappho. Inadvertently, I spoke more quietly, more timidly.”
This approach, Valdivia now recognizes, has been a mistake. By allowing these students to shut down free speech and draw a line in the sand as to what they will and will not hear in the halls of learning, Reed College administrators have helped to create a monster. A monster that will not simply – as they hoped for a while – go away on its own.
We firmly believe – naively, maybe, but still – that sanity can prevail on our nation’s college campuses. That not everyone on the left has been snookered into this absurd belief that speech = violence. That allowing a conservative to speak is akin to “oppressing” liberal minority students. That studying the works of ancient Greek philosophers is somehow aiding and abetting white supremacy. But if the sane remain silent for fear of angering the insane, that hope will fade soon enough.