Jay Nordlinger paid a visit, and made an ill-received speech:
There are simply people who want to be political, 24/7, all the year round. I’ve met plenty of them. There’s nothing you can do to stop them. Politics, for them, is like oxygen. I’ve also met plenty of people under dictatorship who are forced to be political. They would dearly like to lead a normal life — to tend their garden, so to speak. But oppressors have forced them into dissidence.
Also, I’ve discovered this: Many people are attached to what they regard as their identity — an identity of a political, even a tribal, nature. I touched on this phenomenon in a recent essay (here). I realize this is not a news flash: People are tribal. Duh. It’s just that America is less exempt than I once thought it was.
Why is America swimming in identity politics? Because so many people want it. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have it. The older I get, the more I realize that the liberal spirit is relatively rare. A universalist spirit is relatively rare. I find this on left and right. People cling to their tribes, their skin colors, their ethnicities, what have you. Go team go. E pluribus unum may be our motto, but a great many people in America reject it, I can tell you.
I never believed it before. I have come to believe it.
You could write a book — or at least a long and interesting scholarly essay — called “Balkanization by Choice.” That’s a lousy choice, in my book.
But who’s asked me? I must say, I leave the Athenaeum in a spirit of defeat. Seldom have I found an experience with students so demoralizing.
Very depressing. The left may not be currently winning at the ballot box, but they’ve taken over our educational system and the culture.
[Update a few minutes later]
Heather MacDonald responds to the totalitarian students and faculty of Claremont:
“We, few of the Black students” only pretend to be postmodern relativists. They are fully confident that they possess the truth about me and about their oppressed plight at the Claremont schools. An alternative construction of their reality—one, say, that pointed out that as members of fantastically rich, tolerant, and welcoming American colleges, they are among the most privileged human beings in history—would be immediately rejected as contrary to the truth and not worth debating. “We, few” would also reject the alternative truth that far from devaluing Black students, the administrations of the Claremont colleges have undoubtedly admitted many with levels of academic preparation far below that of their white and Asian peers, simply to fulfill the administrators’ own self-righteous desire for “diversity.”
Typical of all such censors and petty tyrants, “We, few of the Black students” now want to crush dissent. They ask the Claremont University Consortium to take action, both disciplinary and legal, against the editors of the conservative student paper, the Claremont Independent, for the open-ended sins of “continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds.” These are the demands not of relativists but of absolutists determined to solidify their power.
As for “We, few’s” gross misreading of my work, it shows that reading skills are in as short supply at the Claremont colleges as writing skills. My entire argument about the necessity of lawful, proactive policing is based on the value of black lives. I have decried the loss of black life to drive-by shootings and other forms of street violence. I have argued that the fact that blacks die of homicide at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined is a civil rights abomination. And I have tried to give voice to the thousands of law-abiding residents of high-crime areas who are desperate for more police protection so that they can enjoy the same freedom from fear that people in more wealthy areas take for granted.
As Nordlinger points out, these children have no idea what true oppression is.
[Update a couple minutes later]
The Berkeley administration is incentivizing anyone who doesn’t want a particular speaker to be heard to threaten (or even engage in) acts of violence. This all but guarantees that speakers who are controversial on a particular campus will be silenced, and teaches a generation of students that resorting to violence will be rewarded. Students are learning deeply illiberal lessons. I can think of few things that are more corrosive to higher education or a pluralistic democracy.
Anyone who responds to speech with violence should be prosecuted. So far, to our knowledge, nobody has been charged at Middlebury College, and possibly only one person has been charged in the Berkeley riots.
When students physically block access to speeches or shout down speakers to prevent them from being heard, they should likewise be punished. Failing to address these disruptions grants an ongoing heckler’s veto to would-be censors. This is inimical to both freedom of speech and academic freedom on campus.
There is a reason nobody says, “If you want to stop a bully, give him everything he wants.” Failure to address violent responses to speech only encourages more violence, while turning great institutions like the University of California, Berkeley, into environments where what can be said — and therefore, what can be taught — is dictated by a minority of violent students and other protesters.
To put it in stark terms, not taking a stand against violent protesters is eventually going to get someone killed.
And it will be Trump’s fault.