Daniel Henninger was spot on in his assessment of the Middlebury College in his article, “McCarthyism at Middlebury” in the Wall Street Journal. Students shockingly felt justified to attack Charles Murray, a conservative pundit, because he had a viewpoint that differed from their own. Henninger puts this incident into perspective; this display of recklessness might actually be a turning point in the madness that has infected liberals and college campuses under the guise of “correct speech.
We’ve seen this for several years now; in 2015, two Yale professors had to resign after encouraging adult students to stand up for the right to wear whatever Halloween costume he or she chose, even if it might offend another person; it was a response to a Yale policy trying to police Halloween costumes on campus. As Henninger pointed out in his article, “Numerous professors, including those at Yale’s top-rated law school, contacted [them] personally to say that it was too risky to speak their minds.” When even the faculty in higher education are afraid to speak their minds, we have a problem.
Even before that, in Spring 2013, a group of Swarthmore students outrageously violated the rights of the campus community. After being allowed to attend a board of trustees meeting to express their views, they then disrupted the meeting, preventing the duly elected Board from responding to their points and continuing the meeting. In their words, it was an effort “to smash ‘hegemonic power structures’ and silence other students”. Yet no action was taken against any of the students or faculty who participated in the abusive, illegal actions.
It is outrageous that the Middlebury incident occurred, but at this point, not entirely surprising anymore. What’s more, faculty and students at Middlebury participated in agitating the community before Charles Murray even arrived; they circulated a petition saying that Murray shouldn’t even be allowed to speak because his voice didn’t represent all people. In one sense, you can somewhat excuse the students who signed it, because they don’t always know better. But faculty? How can faculty at an institute of higher education believe and advocate that a different point of view is wrong in a college/university setting? What have we come to?
Middlebury can indeed serve as a turning point — but only if action is taken. These reckless participants need to be called out and reprimanded, or else such incidents will continue to occur.