There are two recent events that highlight … I am not entirely sure. These events are so completely backwards and altogether wrong that I have trouble deciding where primary blame should be placed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they both transpired at universities counted among the elite in the U.S. – Brown and Duke.
The first event, which occurred at Duke on October 28th, involved the student body and one Mr. Charles Murray. He was invited to discuss his newest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Without question, the book is one that effortlessly creates controversy in its wake. After all, in a politically correct country such as ours, how could any mention of “White America” go unnoticed? Mr. Murray, again who was the invited speaker, seems to have been set up as the student body in attendance soon after he began speaking staged a walkout. Classy, Duke. Classy.
The second event occurred only the very next day at Brown. A hotbed of progressive and relativistic thought, it is nonetheless shocking how they behaved. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley was invited to speak to the topic of “Proactive Policing.” Surely he must have known that this was less a speaking engagement and more a summons to defend the controversial “stop and frisk” policy that has garnered so much negative attention in past months. Even still, not even he should have expected to be shouted down by the student body, as happened. His speech was called off after the 27-minute hate.
Both events show a blatant disrespect on the part of students. After all, it truly seems that both men were invited only to be disrespected. Particularly in the case of Comm. Kelley, this is beyond excusing. He is the commissioner of one of the largest police forces in the world, and was called away from his job to be shouted down by a group of overprivileged 5-year olds (I know they were not so young, but I subscribe to the notion that you are only as old as you act). Both men took time out of their busy schedules to attend these events, and neither man will be able to get that time back.
The real issue here, however, is that these students have been clearly been taught two things: 1.) that any opinion or philosophy different from theirs is quantifiably false; and 2.) at least in the case of Brown University’s students, open disrespect and even aggression is an acceptable means to not only show one’s objection, but to enforce one’s own opinion.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Murray and Kelley’s are unpopular on campuses that drink so deeply from the fount of moral relativism. In a way, the students are only partially to blame, as this behavior was learned somewhere. It is highly doubtful that all of these students were brought up in households that encouraged the exact same forms of social disobedience. No, what is more likely is that these students were acting on their education – that anything which can be seen as offensive to anyone has no place in modern American society. Freedom of speech is well and good until someone’s feelings get hurt.
The most chilling aspect of these two events, and one which I have yet to see mentioned in coverage, is that these students, with their shouting down in disagreement rather than thoughtful discourse, are our future. In the 1960s we saw the future, which is now our reality – a generation of feel-good hippies and beatniks who wanted an equal society. Those who were once hippies and are now in the halls of power, and their ideals are becoming legislation. Where will we be in another 30-40 years, when the generation who values nothing beyond themselves comes to power? This is the primary purpose served by higher education today – a factory of poltically correct thought, with the classroom functioning as nothing but an assembly line.
This is why a balanced higher education is so critical. Conservatives need not focus on swinging the pendulum of higher education back to a conservative majority. Rather, they should aim only to stop it in its tracks. Espousing radical liberal ideas is fine and acceptable (again I refer you to First Amendment), but if it is not balanced with conservative ideas, which today are found in the form of basic Christian and traditional conservative morality and virtue, then we are all in a lot of trouble. Students today don’t stand a chance. If they want to make it through college, then they must run the gauntlet of ideological indoctrination. Most will fall, many will become disillusioned, and those who make it out the other side in relative health will likely feel too overwhelmed to take up the cause.
This is a cause that must be taken up. Conservatives need not fear the university. They must stop viewing it as the exclusive playground of the progressive left, because in so doing they allow the progressive left to control the philosophy and morality of the future. Rather than stand guard at the city gates, they step out of the way while the marauders maraud. Maybe it is all doomed, and maybe this cause is more a fool’s errand, but if the ship is sinking then what makes more sense – to stand in place and complain that the ship is sinking, or run around and try to find a life boat?