I don’t know about you, but I’m alarmed and disturbed. Actually, I’m frightened! We appear to be witnessing the fraying of the basic foundations of the America we’ve known for over 200 years.
It’s bad enough we are confronted with the threats of North Korea, ISIS and Iran, but my concerns today are what’s going on here in our country. Our country is more polarized and volatile now than at any time in my life and it’s scary!
Yes, we’ve always had political disagreements, as well as hotly contested protests and elections, but we’ve never seen anything like what is going on now in every facet of our society.
I have been concerned for sometime about the increasing segregation of students on college campuses, the absolute stupefying efforts to curtail or even respect free speech in the educational environment, as well as the increasing lack of diversity in the makeup of college faculties.
The shocking tragedy in Charlottesville last month was horrifying. The neo-Nazis came to try and preserve a statue they didn’t care a whit about. The black-clad ANTIFA activists came to confront the white supremacists. Both sides came armed, not with arguments, but with weapons to inflict personal harm, while a governor attempting to be politically correct had the police stand by to watch the mayhem. It was all disgraceful.
Then we have to add in a Congress so stagnated with bitter and hostile feelings on both sides of the aisle that there is no compromise and nothing gets done.
To try and understand all this disintegration of the basic fundamentals of our democracy, let’s try to explore what is going on in the educational, the public, and the political arenas.
Quite frankly, it’s all very upsetting because it can’t land to anything good. It’s diversity in full retreat.
The College/University Arena
In his retirement address, the provost of Stanford University said, “The biggest threat to the future of higher education is the decline of free speech and the rise of intolerance on college campuses.”
Only a generation ago, colleges were places that celebrated free speech and the expression of many different viewpoints. Students came to college with the expectation that they would be exposed to a variety of ideas and opinions, in the classrooms and in the dormitories. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children.
But lately, something insidious has been taking over college campuses.
Left-wing academics and administrators have advanced a frighteningly fascist-like movement—political correctness. It comes with speech codes, sensitivity training and “rapid response” teams to help enforce “correct thinking,” as Mao called it.
Like a cancer spreading across our nation, speech control has oozed into our homes, our workplaces, our news, our movies and television—it’s destroying our culture and our heritage of freedom.
So it should no longer surprise us when we learn, for example, about administrators at Vassar College last fall shredding a copy of the United States Constitution, all because one student complained that she felt “triggered” by its distribution on campus.
Then there is research by Samuel Adams, Professor of Political Science at Sarah Lawrence College in New York:
- He found that in 1989, the faculty numbers were 40 percent liberal, 40 percent moderate, and 20 percent conservative. But by 2014, 60 percent call themselves liberal, 30 percent moderate, and just 10 percent conservative.
- Nowadays, self-proclaimed liberal professors outnumber conservatives nearly five to one! The general public and the student population is not moving so firmly in this same direction. It’s only the professors.
- What’s more, it’s incorrect to believe that some campuses have moved far left while others are more balanced. Almost all colleges—91%– have seen an increase in the proportion of liberal faculty members.
While in the South, the ratio of self-proclaimed progressive professors to conservative ones was three to one; in the Northeast, where many of the nation’s top universities are found, the ratios are far more unbalanced. Progressives now outnumber conservatives by a factor of 28-to-one!
Recent polls suggest seven out of 10 college students favor banning “intentionally offensive” speech.
Can you believe that? Well, neither can I. But it’s the truth; our country’s next generation of leaders would rather sacrifice the First Amendment than suffer the possibility of hurt feelings.
And what, you ask, may be considered “offensive” speech? Well, here are just a few examples that have surfaced in recent months:
- Chalk marks supporting the election of Donald Trump.
- A Yale lecturer defending the right of blonde children to wear a “Mulan” Halloween costume portraying the female Chinese warrior featured in the Disney film.
- Questioning the priorities of Black Lives Matter.
While the anti-free speech bullying on college campuses has drawn the most media attention, the problem really starts…in high schools. We must reach students before they reach college. This means turning the tide in secondary schools away from stifled “tolerance” and towards a true diversity of viewpoints.
- A high school student in Woodbury, Connecticut, was researching gun control for a class paper. The school computer blocked access to the website of the National Rifle Association, while those sites supportive of gun control were easily accessed. So he dug further and found that the high school had also blocked access to numerous websites sponsored by conservative or Christian organizations—including the Vatican. The reason? The superintendent was trying to weed out “hate speech.”
- When a senior at Central High School in Philadelphia published an opinion piece in his high school newspaper that was critical of the recent protests at the University of Missouri, his piece was removed from the paper’s website as “insensitive.” Even worse, other students threatened on social media to “deal with” or “shoot” him.
Such stories are, unfortunately, commonplace.
Lively discourse—the free and unfettered exchange of ideas that made our country great and serves as the basis of true intellectual diversity—is dying in contemporary education.
Taking its place is a poisonous mixture of intimidation, bullying, and, on the part of those intimidated and bullied, silence. In the long run, this spells disaster.
Here are just a few more of the outrageous actions we’ve witnessed:
- California’s Modesto Junior College threatened a student with disciplinary action for distributing a copy of the U.S. Constitution in celebration of Constitution Day. The student was not in the “free speech zone.”
- Students at the University of South Carolina were disciplined for hosting an event promoting free speech.
- At UC-San Diego, the student newspaper satirized “free speech zones.” The administration took away all of the paper’s funding.
- For years campuses have bullied and sought to ban conservative speakers. In 2014, Rutgers faculty and students succeeded in getting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scratched as their commencement speaker. UCLA students and faculty did the same to First Lady Laura Bush in 2002.
- The University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team works to control student behavior. In one instance, the team investigated a student who put up a sign that encouraged students to “clean up after themselves.” The complaint? The sign was “sexist.”
This is insanity. Every inch of every college campus in America should be a free speech zone! This march of anti-diversity must be stopped. It benefits no one and our country will be its victim.
Next week, we’ll tackle how the public and political arenas are doing their part to help the disintegration of our democracy.