“[T]he freedom of speech may be taken away — and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.” — George Washington
The definition of inquisition is a formal inquiry or examination to make a determination based on what are considered facts with little regard for individual rights. What is happening in some American colleges is an inquiry into what is in the heart of a speaker invited to the campus. Such decisions may only be decided subjectively, which makes them useless outside of political gains.
Universities, once the beacon of western enlightenment, have fallen drastically from a century ago when an English author Beatrice Evelyn Hall claimed these words belonged to the great French philosopher Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
In the midst of mindless leftist violence over conservatives who are engaged to speak on some campuses, the above words have been so twisted that now the extremists so vehemently disapprove of what you say that they will defend your death if you say them.
It has been a rapid transformation from ivory to iron towers, the most notable of which is the University of California at Berkeley; the apex of the 60s protest movement and a safe haven for unpopular speech against the war in Vietnam as well as bringing in civil rights speakers as far back as 1964.
Six weeks ago, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay conservative, came to speak at Berkeley. More than 1,500 people showed up in angry protest accusing Yiannopoulos as a voice of the alt-right, a group of overt racism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism.
Just minutes before the speech, the scene around Zellerbach Hall where he was to speak began to look like a revolutionary charge on a South American dictator’s palace. Police were waiting for what was expected to be a peaceful protest at one of America’s most recognized universities. They were met with Molotov cocktails and a cascade of bricks. Damages amounted to $100,000.
Last week, popular conservative writer and sometimes provocateur Ann Coulter was dis-invited to speak at Cal because of the threat of violence if she appeared. Around the same time, Linfield College in Oregon decided that Jordan Peterson must not be allowed to speak because he uses gender neutral pronouns. I had to look up what is wrong with saying “he” or “she” to find out this hurts the sensibilities of a transgender person.
A laundry list of sins
If you don’t think transgender people should be celebrated, don’t believe that the conditions for today’s African American communities are the fault of white societies and don’t think that today Islam is as peaceful of a religion as Christianity, then you are automatically categorized as a member of the alt-right and must not be allowed to speak because you will injure the feelings of college liberals.
Violence broke out in early March at Middlebury College in Vermont after a student conservative group called The American Enterprise Club invited Dr. Charles Murray to speak on campus. A letter of protest signed by 450 alumni said that stopping Murray from speaking, “is not an issue of freedom of speech,” but rather “Why has such a person been granted a platform at Middlebury?”
Murray is a libertarian and the co-author of The Bell Curve, which argues that intelligence is a better predictor than parental socio-economic status or education level of many individuals including income, job performance, pregnancy out of wedlock and crime. Boiled to the bone, the book suggests that if you are a loser it probably isn’t the fault of society but the fact you are dim-witted.
To deflect blame about something that is clearly the fault of white society is heresy to the liberals who hate libertarians from the get go because they believe in individual responsibility and the benefits of less government. Like most universities, the administrators at Middlebury decided that Murray’s mere presence would harm the sensibilities of their students. After all, the implication of Murray’s book could be that blacks are not as smart as whites. The liberal inquisition will never stand for murmurs of that despite what test scores have shown.
The March 6 issue of The Atlantic included an article on the Murray ballyhoo that actually disapproved of Middlebury blocking free speech. What was more interesting than the article was the sharing of the writer, Peter Beinart.
I consider it bigoted to oppose gay marriage. I consider it bigoted to support voting restrictions that disproportionately impact African Americans and Latinos. I consider it bigoted to deny trans students the right to use the bathrooms of their choice. I consider it bigoted to claim that Islam is inherently more violent than Judaism or Christianity. I consider it unconscionable to oppose government action against climate change.
A symptom of America’s decline
Some 2,500 years ago, Socrates was forced to swallow a cup of poison hemlock. For half a century, the rulers of Athens let Socrates freely speak his thoughts on man and the human spirit. He and his students Plato and Aristotle gave birth to human reflection on the individual and group. They wrote of ideals such as equality, justice and humanity at a time when Athens as a power had passed its zenith.
During the decline that happened during Socrates’s life, Athens was losing wars and dealing with starvation and pestilence. Socrates became a scapegoat. His teachings and not the greed of the rulers were blamed for Athens collapse.
Today, liberals and the media have a visceral hatred of Donald Trump — a man they think exudes white wealth and power. His election to the highest office has caused a spontaneous lashing out by liberals who no longer have the majority and are imposing their political dogma backed by violence on any that are labelled enemies of liberalism.
Not your daddy’s Democrats
Liberals are a very powerful force in the country and bear little resemblance to the liberals of the Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy era. The decency of those men has morphed towards radicalism not so different from the fascists that terrorized their enemies with violence and obliterated free speech in Europe in the 1930s. In a few years, the University of California at Berkeley may differ little from the University of Vienna, which in 1938 was the incubator for Nazi dogma.
The death of free speech has been emblematic to every great power in decline. There can be little question that America is in decline and has been since the early 1960s. It is possible that this slide can be temporarily arrested by Trump, as I believe it was by Ronald Reagan. What Trump may offer at best is a catching point in America’s demise. That is if he is allowed a fair shake at leading the nation. What I have seen from ever more aggressive liberals leads me to believe he won’t have that opportunity.
Yours in good times and bad,
— John Myers