It was an angry, hateful rage, which may have even shocked the liberal consciousness.
Earlier this month, a violent mob of students at Middlebury College in Vermont assaulted liberal professor Allison Stanger and chased her and Charles Murray, a Libertarian scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, off the campus where he was asked to speak.
The debacle put Ms. Stanger in a neck brace and gave her a concussion.
She wrote of the incident in The New York Times on Monday: “Though [Mr. Murray] is someone with whom I disagree, I welcomed the opportunity to moderate a talk with him on campus on March 2 because several of my students asked me to do so. They know I am a Democrat, but the college courses I teach are nonpartisan. As I wrote on Facebook immediately after the incident, this was a chance to demonstrate publicly a commitment to a free and fair exchange of views in my classroom. But Dr. Murray was drowned out by students who never let him speak, and he and I were attacked and intimidated while trying to leave campus.”
It was a despicable display of the intolerance of the left — the complete and utter lack of regard for an exchange of viewpoints. Because Mr. Murray is a Libertarian — and many of his writings the students disagreed with — the mob sought to stun him into silence.
This sort of bigotry seems to be growing on college campuses — where conservative professors and thought-leaders are increasingly being attacked with both ridicule and actual violence. Where high-minded liberal viewpoints reign, so much so that there’s no room for any other opinion.
Yet, the Middlebury College incident seems to have struck a chord with progressive intellectuals.
On Tuesday, professors Robert George of Princeton University (a conservative) and Cornel West of Harvard University (a socialist) posted an online petition in defense of Freedom of Speech. For many years the two taught a class at Princeton, teaching their students how to listen to differing points of view.
Their statement reads, in part: “Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.”
The petition, which can be found at https://jmp.princeton.edu/statement is in addition to a free speech statement put out by Middlebury College professors, which now has more than 100 signatures.
Perhaps in the aftermath of Middlebury, some healing can be found.
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