The University of Notre Dame recently invited the noted conservative thinker and author of Coming Apart, Dr. Charles Murray, to address faculty and students on the hot topics of today. This was done in the tradition of freedom of speech, academic freedom, balanced representation of critical issues. In the past, liberal speakers such as Harvard Professor Robert Putnam, who is a recognized authority on the subject of diversity (his book BOWLING ALONE was a best-seller), graced the ND auditorium in a welcoming atmosphere. Such a welcome was not extended to Dr. Murray, nor to other conservative speakers before him. Noisy and often violent protesters, organized presumably by on- and off-campus left-wing organizations who smell hell’s sulphur in conservative speech.
Just like the word “liberal” has been corrupted to no longer mean “liberty”, but its opposite, i.e. politically-correct, anti-tradition, even anti-history, so has the treasured university policy of guaranteeing “academic freedom” and “freedom of speech” become an empty promise. It is useful, if not ironic to remember that conservatives are the original “classic liberals”, promoting individual freedom of thought, respect and tolerance. How things have changed. It is a well-known fact that conservative professors, at least in state-financed colleges, although many private ones have joined this anti-intellectual movement, learn to keep their mouths shut, for fear of being ostracized. Only some long-tenured professors and non-career adjuncts seem to have the courage of their conviction and speak out on campus, putting their longevity in jeopardy. Liberal professors have no such concerns.
After retiring from three decades in global business activities, i became one of those adjuncts at a private university and naively expected vigorous discussions for and against the great topics of the moment. I learned quickly, however, that many, if not most, full-time faculty were indeed liberal, some ridiculing any conservative comment. I learned quickly that today’s faculty are ideologically driven in whatever subject they teach. I learned, for instance, that cultural anthropology can have a left or right “spin”. I cannot help but think back to my college experience of the 1960s when the great professors that I respected highly, did not betray a personal perspective. They presented all sides of an argument. Just like journalism has been corrupted to become advocacy reporting, so has the teaching profession. The result of course has been that students are no longer taught to analyze and argue differing perspectives, but are injected with a singular viewpoint, or set of talking-points which they naturally accept as the absolute truth, and regurgitate instinctively. This, therefore, explains why they are so upset at conservative speech which threatens their intellectual glass foundation. Having been empowered by their liberal High School teachers, they feel empowered and will challenge conservative professors, while robotically agreeing with liberal ones. Furthermore, so often students seem to take control of a university with weak management and dictate the terms of university reform. (students teaching the teachers?).We have witnessed campus upheavals where liberal professors act out a sort of “Stockholm Syndrome” and become part of the robotic behavior chaos (e.g. Mizzou). Most students don’t know the Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, the intellectual statesman for the leftist cause, but they act in accordance with many of those so-effective rules: #5 ridicule is man’s best weapon against an enemy; others: repeat a lie frequently, it will stick; push the envelope of your adversary’s rules, they will become “broken”. Have you heard this one?…..accuse and never explain …. This new atmosphere is totally opposite of what a college campus is supposed to breed: open, inquisitive and tolerant minds