The Problem with the Latest Campus Debacle
Well, I can’t talk about it. But let me suggest one or two things to keep in mind.
- I feel like some part of the campus conservative movement is, itself, to blame for this. I know, I sound like blaming the victim, but my sense is that they are inviting controversial speakers to campus not to learn anything, but to actually be controversial. Now, I do not happen to think Murray is a good example of this, but the thingy at Cal a few weeks ago seems to be what I have in mind. But if the “right” were seeking my advice – it would be to engage ideas directly and begin a conversation with a series of questions about why people hold various ideas, and to understand why there are people who disagree and what fears and hopes people have. I am not sure that a good way to start the conversations is to put an “in your face” event on the table …
- As for the intellectual climate on campus – without going detail by detail, there is no doubt something going on. Just examine the reaction of the students, protesters and the campuses themselves. There is, as far as I can tell, embarrassment (perhaps) that media attention to the disruptions makes them look bad and less open to free speech. But think a little bit about this – there seems to be utterly no engagement with the ideas in any way, shape or form. I think the protesters see opportunities like Murray coming to campus to “expose” how horrible he and his ideas are – and the fact that things got out of hand never really gave them a chance to do that. But is that now what we call intellectual freedom, diversity and liberal arts learning? So, people with different “opinions” are welcome, just as a sort of token nod to diversity, and are welcomed because it makes for an easy target to demonstrate how right and morally superior the rest of the university is? Seriously, read the articles about these incidents – I am not sure I have ever seen a single person reflect for a moment on why people hold particular ideas, in what circumstances they may be right, and what the implications would be. For example, I myself am very much in favor of opening our borders completely. Suppose my school brought a person here to talk about restricting immigration and labor market mobility. I would not want to have them here just show to everyone how ignorant they are, and how erudite and moral my open borders view are (they are!), but rather maybe I can learn more both about my own position and the complexities of the policy areas here by listening carefully to the other person’s arguments and understanding WHY they hold them. I find it just intellectually lazy, dangerous, and in fact, awful, if the default position of people would be, “well, the only possible reason someone can be opposed to open borders is because they hate human beings.” But, that’s what the intellectual climate has become.
There’s so much more to say, but I’m going to retreat back to writing my micro exam.