MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
In 1903, during America’s darkest period of hate, W. E. B. Du Bois heartbreakingly affirmed his intellectual affinity with Western civilization. “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas,” Du Bois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk. “I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension.”1
Half a century earlier, Frederick Douglass had paid tribute to the eighteenth-century British orators whom, at age twelve, he had discovered in a collection of political speeches. “Every opportunity afforded me, for a time, was spent in diligently perusing [The Columbian Orator],” Douglass recalled in his autobiography. “This volume was, indeed, a rich treasure,” he wrote, for the speeches—by Richard Sheridan, Charles James Fox, and William Pitt—“gave tongue to many interesting thoughts, which had frequently flashed through my soul, and died away for want of utterance.”2
How much things have changed.
In 2016, a student petition at Yale University called for dismantling the college’s decades-long requirement that English majors take a course covering Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Wordsworth. Reading these authors “creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of color,”3 complained the students. Sadly, there was by then nothing remarkable in this demand. Attacks on the canon as an instrument of exclusivity and oppression have flourished since the 1980s, when Jesse Jackson famously joined Stanford students in chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go.” But in the past few years the worldview behind such antagonism has become even more militant, transforming not just universities but the world at large. The demand for “safe spaces,” reflexive accusations of racism and sexism, and contempt for Enlightenment values of reason and due process are no longer an arcane species of academic self-involvement—they increasingly infuse business, government, and civil society. The Diversity Delusion is an attempt to investigate how this transformation happened and why.
The roots lie in a charged set of ideas that now dominate higher education: that human beings are defined by their skin color, sex, and sexual preference; that discrimination based on those characteristics has been the driving force in Western civilization; and that America remains a profoundly bigoted place, where heterosexual white males continue to deny opportunity to everyone else.
These ideas, which may be subsumed under the categories of “diversity” and identity politics, have remade the university. Entire fields have sprung up around race, ethnicity, sex, and gender identity. Coursework in traditional departments also views the past and present through that same self-engrossed lens. A vast administrative apparatus—the diversity bureaucracy—promotes the notion that to be a college student from an ever-growing number of victim groups is to experience daily bigotry from your professors and peers. In fall 2015, black Princeton students chanted: “We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired”—a phrase first used by Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist from the deep South who was beaten in the 1950s for trying to vote. Hamer had grounds aplenty to be sick and tired, but any Princeton student who thinks of himself as downtrodden is in the grip of a terrible delusion. That delusion, however, is actively encouraged by Princeton’s administrators, including the vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, who in early 2018 erected posters throughout campus inviting students to report “problematic experiences based on identity.” In 2016, Brown students occupied their provost’s office to demand exemption from traditional academic requirements such as class attendance because they were so focused, they said, on staying alive at Brown. Fact-check: No Brown student is at risk of his life from going to classes and trying to learn.
This victimology fuels the sometimes violent efforts to shut down speech that challenges campus orthodoxies. Taught to believe that they are at existential threat from circumambient bias, students equate nonconforming ideas with “hate speech,” and “hate speech” with life-threatening conduct that should be punished, censored, and repelled with force if necessary. In March 2017, a mob of Middlebury College students assaulted a professor, giving her a concussion and whiplash, following their successful effort to prevent social scientist Charles Murray from speaking to a live audience by shouting, pounding on walls, and activating fire alarms. Murray just missed being knocked down and beaten himself.4 After this attack, 177 professors from across the country signed an open letter protesting that the assailants had been disciplined, however minimally. The professors blamed the Middlebury administration for the violence, since its decision to allow Murray to lecture constituted a “threat” to students. A few days later, another group of faculty members described the tribulations that students and faculty “of color” on that bucolic campus allegedly encounter: marginalization, neglect, objectification, and exclusion from full participation in campus life. The protest was a matter of “active resistance against racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and all other forms of unjust discrimination,” they wrote.5
In May 2017 students from Evergreen State College in Washington state stormed into a class taught by biology professor Bret Weinstein and began cursing and hurling racial epithets. “Fuck you, you piece of shit,” screamed one student. “Get the fuck out of here,” screamed another. Weinstein, a lifelong progressive, had refused to obey an edict from Evergreen’s Director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services that all white faculty cancel their courses for a day and stay off campus. White students were also ordered to absent themselves from the school, to show solidarity with the supposed struggles of Evergreen’s minority students. Weinstein told the mob that he did not believe that science professors at Evergreen were “targeting” students of color, contrary to the premises of a newly announced equity initiative. “Fuck what you have to say,” a student responded. “This is not a discussion.” Evergreen’s president, after being subjected to a similar expletive-filled mob tirade, expressed his “gratitude for the [students’] passion and courage.” In September 2017, Weinstein and his wife, also an Evergreen biology professor, accepted a $500,000 settlement to resign from the college.
Universities should be the place where students encounter the greatest works of mankind and learn to understand what makes them touchstones of human experience. History should convey the hard work it took over centuries to carve stability and prosperity out of violence, tyranny, and corruption. Instead, victim ideology encourages ignorant young adults to hate the monuments of Western civilization without bothering even to study them. (Bruce Bawer and Roger Kimball previously called out these trends in The Victims’ Revolution and Tenured Radicals, respectively.) Faculty respond to students’ know-nothing tantrums with silence—when they are not actively colluding in the destruction of humanistic learning.
None of this campus self-pity is justified. American college students are among the most privileged human beings in history. But the claim of ubiquitous “racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia” is now lodged in the nonacademic world as well, where it is being used to silence speakers and ideas with which favored victim groups disagree. Civility is shrinking and civil peace may be in jeopardy. Masked anarchists use force to block conservatives from speaking in public forums. The free speech crisis on and off campus will not be solved until the premises of victimology are challenged directly and exposed as fraudulent, as this book aims to do.
The academic obsession with identity is ironic, since its roots lie in a philosophy that denied the very existence of the self. In the 1970s, the literary theory of deconstruction took over humanities departments with a curious set of propositions about language. Because linguistic signs were arbitrary, successful communication was said to be impossible. Most surprisingly, the human subject was declared to be a fiction, a mere play of rhetorical tropes. In the 1980s, however, the self came roaring back with a vengeance as feminists and race theorists took the mannered jargon of deconstruction and turned it into a political weapon. The key deconstructive concept of linguistic “différance” became identity difference between the oppressed and their oppressors; the prime object of study became one’s own self and its victimization. The most significant change concerned attitudes toward the Western intellectual tradition. Deconstructive theorists such as Paul de Man and Jacques Derrida performed their interpretive sleights of hand on Proust, Rousseau, Plato, Shelley, and Wordsworth, among other leading philosophers and writers. They did not disparage these complex texts as the contemptible products of dead, white males. Multiculturalism, which took over literary studies in the 1980s, destroyed that respect for the canon while continuing the deconstructive stance of exposing alleged subtexts and suppressed meanings. What had been an epistemological project became a political one.
And now multiculturalism’s cover for unblemished ignorance of the past—the reflexive “dead, white male” taunt—is being used to further rationalize formal and informal censorship. A twenty-three-year-old theater student at the University of California, San Diego, circulated a petition in February 2018 to cancel a course on Woody Allen’s movies, due to Allen’s alleged sexual improprieties. Asked if the demand to efface the course raised free speech problems, the student dismissed the First Amendment as an “outdated” law “written by a bunch of white men.” (It is a certainty that she has read neither the amendment nor the history of the Bill of Rights.) The university rejected the petition, but the multicultural excuse for trashing Enlightenment principles continues to wreak havoc elsewhere.
Even the one remaining bright spot in the universities is vulnerable. Academic science is in the crosshairs of the victimologists. For now, university researchers are still accomplishing astounding feats of intellectual discovery. But the incessant demand from administrators and government officials that science departments hire by gender and race, rather than established accomplishments, may take a toll on their intellectual capital. That demand continues into the marketplace, where activist groups and the media exert identical pressure on for-profit science and technology firms in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
“Diversity” in the academy purported to be about bridge-building and broadening people’s experiences. It has had the opposite effect: dividing society, reducing learning, and creating an oppositional mind-set that prevents individuals from seizing the opportunities available to them. It is humanistic learning, by contrast, that involves an actual encounter with diversity and difference, as students enter worlds radically different from their own. Humanistic study involves imaginative empathy and curiosity, which are being squelched in today’s university in favor of self-engrossed complaint. Teaching the classics is the duty we owe these great works for giving us an experience of the sublime. Once we stop lovingly transmitting them to the next generation, they die.
For decades, universities have drifted further and further away from their true purpose. Now they are taking the rest of the world with them.
THE HYSTERICAL CAMPUS
Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas that they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberties of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.
I was the target of such silencing tactics two days in a row in 2017, the more serious incident at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and a less virulent one at UCLA.
The Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna had invited me to meet with students and to give a talk in April about my book The War on Cops. Several calls went out on Facebook to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald.” A Facebook post from “we, students of color at the Claremont Colleges” announced grandiosely that “as a community, we CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.” A Facebook event titled “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and hosted by “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascists” encouraged students to protest the event because I allegedly “condemn [the] Black Lives Matter movement,” “support racist police officers,” and “support increasing fascist ‘law and order.’”1 (My supposed fascism consists in trying to give voice to the millions of law-abiding minority residents of high-crime areas who support the police and are desperate for more law-enforcement protection.)
The event organizers notified me a day before the speech that a protest was planned and that they were considering changing the venue from CMC’s Athenaeum to one with fewer glass windows and easier egress. When I arrived on campus, I was shuttled to what was, in effect, a safe house: a guest suite for campus visitors, with blinds drawn. I could hear the growing crowds chanting and drumming, but I could not see the auditorium that the protesters were surrounding. One female voice rose above the chants with particularly shrill hysteria. From the balcony, I saw a petite blond female walk by, her face covered by a Palestinian keffiyeh headscarf and carrying an amplifier on her back for her bullhorn. A lookout was stationed about forty yards away, and students were seated on the stairway under my balcony, plotting strategy.
Since I never saw the events outside the Athenaeum, which remained the chosen venue, an excellent report from the student newspaper, The Student Life, provides details of the scene:
The protesters, most of whom wore all black, congregated outside Honnold/Mudd Library at 4 p.m. to stage the action. “We are here to shut down the fucking fascist,” announced an organizer to a crowd of around 100 students. The protesters subsequently marched to the Ath around 4:30 while chanting. An organizer shouted “How do you spell racist?” into a megaphone; the marchers responded “C-M-C.”
When they arrived, the protesters were greeted by around two dozen Campus Safety officers and Claremont police officers, stationed at various locations around the building. Protestors ignored the officers (who did not obstruct them) and the makeshift white fences sectioning off areas of Flamson Plaza, enveloping each of the Ath’s entrances with multiple rows of students linking arms. White students were encouraged to stand in front to form a barrier between students of color and the police.
The protesters continued their chants, including “hey hey, ho ho, Heather Mac has got to go,” “shut it down,” and—most frequent and sustained—“black lives matter.” Some of the officers appeared visibly uncomfortable during the chant of “from Oakland to Greece, fuck the police.”
Keck Science professor Anthony Fucaloro pushed against and grappled with the crowd of protesters in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the door. Garrett Ryan, CM ’17, brought a large speaker to the Hub’s patio, blasting Sousa’s patriotic march “The Stars and Stripes Forever” to provoke the protesters. A woman who ran up to him managed to steal his audio cable after a brief scuffle, cutting off the music and garnering cheers from the protesters when she returned to the crowd.
“It was not well-received,” Ryan told TSL.
Steven Glick, PC ’17, coeditor-in-chief of the conservative Claremont Independent publication, attempted to livestream the protest but was swarmed by protesters who blocked his phone.
Several administrators attended the protest and stood to the side. They told TSL that they saw their role as ensuring student safety, but they also sympathized with the protesters’ views. “Black Lives Matter is really at my heart,” said Pomona associate dean Jan Collins-Eaglin.
Of all the chants, “How do you spell racist?” “C-M-C,” was the most absurd (and didn’t even rhyme). “Racist” CMC is so eager for “diverse” students that it has historically admitted black and Hispanic students with an average 200-point-lower SAT score than white and Asian students.
Shortly before 6 PM, I was fetched by an administrator and a few police officers to take an out-of-the-way elevator into the Athenaeum. The massive hall, where I was supposed to meet with students for dinner before my talk, was empty—the mob, by then numbering close to two hundred, had succeeded in preventing anyone from entering. The large plate-glass windows were covered with translucent blinds, so that from the inside one could see only a mass of indistinct bodies pounding on the windows. The administration had decided that I would live stream my speech in the vacant room in order to preserve some semblance of the original plan. The podium was moved away from a window so that, as night fell and the lights inside came on, I would not be visible to the agitators outside.
I prefaced my speech by observing that I had heard chants for the last two hours that “black lives matter.” I hoped, therefore, that the protesters had been equally fervent in expressing their outrage when five-year-old Aaron Shannon Jr. was killed on Halloween 2010 in South Central Los Angeles, while proudly showing off his Spider-Man costume. A twenty-six-year-old member of Watts’s Kitchen Crips sent a single bullet through Aaron’s head, and also shot Aaron’s uncle and grandfather. I said that I hoped the protesters also objected when nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee was lured into an alley in Chicago with the promise of candy in November 2015 and assassinated by gang enemies of Tyshawn’s father. The murderers’ original plan had been to cut off Tyshawn’s fingers and send them to his mother. While Black Lives Matter protesters have, in fact, ignored all such mayhem, the people who have concerned themselves are the police, I said. And though it was doubtful that any of the protesters outside had ever lost a loved one to a drive-by shooting, if such a tragedy ever did happen, the first thing that he or she would do would be to call the police.
I completed my speech to the accompaniment of chants and banging on the windows. I was able to take two questions from students via live streaming. But by then, the administrators and police officers in the room, who had spent my talk nervously staring at the windows, decided that things were growing too unruly outside to continue. I was given the cue that the presentation was over. Walkie-talkies were used to coordinate my exit from the Athenaeum’s kitchen to the exact moment that a black, unmarked Claremont Police Department van rolled up. We passed startled students sitting on the stoop outside the kitchen. Before I entered the van, one student came up and thanked me for coming to Claremont. We sped off to the police station.
The previous night, I actually succeeded in delivering a talk on policing to the audience who had come to hear it; such heretofore ordinary circumstances are now noteworthy. My hosts, the UCLA College Republicans, had titled my presentation “Blue Lives Matter,” which campus activists viewed as an unspeakable provocation. After I finished speaking and welcomed questions, pandemonium broke out. Protesters stormed the front of the classroom, demanding control of the mic and chanting loudly: “America was never great” and “Black Lives Matter, they matter here,” among other insights. After nearly ten minutes of shouting, one of the organizers managed to persuade some students to line up for questions. The College Fix paper captured the subsequent interaction:
A black female asked whether “black victims killed by cops” mattered.
“Yes,” Mac Donald replied. “And do black children that are killed by other blacks matter to you?”
At that the room erupted in gasps and angry moans and furious snaps, and the young lady who asked the original question began to yell at Mac Donald, pointing her finger and repeating the original question.…
“Of course I care [that black victims are killed by cops], and do you know what,” Mac Donald said. “There is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police.”
Again, gasps and moans filled the auditorium. “Bullshit! Bullshit!” a young woman off camera could be heard screaming.
Mac Donald continued: “The crime drop of the last 20 years that came to a screeching halt in August 2014 has saved tens of thousands of minority lives. Because cops went to those neighborhoods and they got the dealers off the street and they got the gang-bangers off the street.”
Mac Donald took more questions and at times was able to articulate her points during the Q&A, but was also often interrupted by angry audience members shouting out things such as:
“I don’t trust your numbers.”
“Why do white lives always need to be put above everybody else? Can we talk about black lives for one second?”
“The same system that sent police to murder black lives…”
“You have no right to speak!”
“What about white terrorism?!”
To the inevitable claim that poverty causes gun violence, I responded that if students really believed in that causation, they should be concerned that mass low-skilled immigration was driving down wages for the American poor. That provoked a new chant: “Say it loud! Say it clear! Immigrants are welcome here.”
At 8 PM, the organizers decided to end the event, and I was hustled out of the room with a police escort.
The UCLA administration never acknowledged the disruption of my presentation and interaction with students. The Claremont McKenna administration did, however, respond both before and after the incident. Two days ahead of my speech, the director of the Rose Institute, Andrew Busch, sent out an email decrying the use of the epithet “racist” “as a bludgeon with which to shut up critics or keep friends in line.” Busch optimistically put matters in the conditional: “If we ever accept that approach we will have taken a giant step toward surrendering freedom of thought and expression”—as if intimidation via the R-word is not already routine on and off campuses. Busch graciously tried to provide a neutral summary of my views and noted that I, too, aim to protect black lives.
A few minutes after I was escorted out of the Athenaeum, a campus-wide missive from Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Peter Uvin expressed disappointment that people could not attend the lecture, but lauded the fact that the lecture was live streamed. Uvin, a government professor specializing in development and human rights, went on to establish his bona fides with the social-justice crowd: “I fully understand that people have strong opinions and different—often painful—experiences with the issues Heather Mac Donald discusses. I also understand that words can hurt. And in a world of unequal power, it is more often than not those who have a history of exclusion who are being hurt by words. I support everyone’s right to make this world a better one.” This may not have been the best moment to reaffirm the idea that undergirds such silencing protests: that speech can damage allegedly excluded or marginalized minorities.
The next day, CMC president Hiram Chodosh, a former international law professor, weighed in. He explained the failure to intervene against the protesters: “Based on the judgment of the Claremont Police Department, we jointly concluded that any forced interventions or arrests would have created unsafe conditions for students, faculty, staff, and guests. I take full responsibility for the decision to err on the side of these overriding safety considerations.”2 Chodosh said that students who violated school policies by blocking access to buildings would be held accountable.
A poorly written editorial in the student newspaper attributed to me positions I have never taken and quoted me wildly out of context. Such misunderstanding goes with the territory. But the editorialists’ explanation for why my talk had to be shut down revealed the “racism is everywhere” brainwashing that students at even a once relatively conservative campus like Claremont now receive: “If we allow her to speak at the Ath or attend her talk, we are amplifying her voice and enhancing her credibility. Last month, we proposed that writing and publishing an article, even if it’s ‘free of opinion,’ is not passive. This is a through line for many of our editorials this year: many actions that seem neutral in theory are actually entrenched in unconscious bias.”3
When speakers need police escort on and off college campuses, an alarm bell should be going off that something has gone seriously awry. Of course, an ever-growing part of the faculty is the reason that police protection is needed in the first place. Professors in all but the hardest of hard sciences increasingly indoctrinate students in the belief that to be a non-Asian minority or a female in America today is to be the target of nonstop oppression, even, uproariously, if you are among the privileged few to attend a fantastically well-endowed, resource-rich American college. Those professors also maintain that to challenge that claim of ubiquitous bigotry is to engage in “hate speech” and that such speech is tantamount to a physical assault on minorities and females. As such, it can rightly be suppressed and punished. To those faculty, I am indeed a fascist, and a white supremacist, with the attendant loss of communication rights.
Hyperbole is part and parcel of political speech. But I would hope that there are some remaining faculty with enough of a lingering connection to reality who would realize that I and other conservatives are not a literal threat to minority students. To try to prevent me or other dissenting intellectuals from connecting with students is simply an effort to maintain the Left’s monopoly of thought. The fact that this suppression goes under the title of “antifascism” is particularly rich. I am reluctant to wield the epithet “fascist” as promiscuously as my declared opponents do. But it must be observed that if campus conservatives tried to use physical force to block Senator Elizabeth Warren from giving a speech, The New York Times would likely put the obstruction on the front page and the term “fascist” would be flying around like a swarm of hornets, followed immediately by the epithet “misogynist.” And when students and their fellow anarchists start breaking glass, destroying businesses, and assaulting perceived opponents, as they did during the Berkeley riots against Milo Yiannopoulos’s scheduled talk in February 2017, and to prevent sociologist Charles Murray from speaking at Middlebury College the following month, it is hard not to hear echoes of 1930s fascism.
* * *
It is not enough for professors to sign statements in support of free speech (and surprisingly few have actually done so).* When word goes out of a plan to “shut down” nonconforming political views, that plan must be taken deadly seriously. Claremont McKenna took obvious pains to protect my talk, but they were not enough. I won’t second-guess President Chodosh’s decision not to arrest the mob blocking access to the Athenaeum. Administrators and campus police are loath to do anything that might necessitate the use of force against student darlings. But if arrests are all but foreclosed, enough police manpower must be summoned to maintain open access through sheer command presence.
Before a planned blockade, the faculty must reaffirm in their classes the institution’s belief in free expression. And the faculty must show up to the threatened event itself to give meaning to the ideal of free speech; they must shame the students trying to prevent their fellow students from hearing ideas that challenge campus orthodoxies. Unfortunately, since the Claremont McKenna shutdown, professors across the country have either continued their silence in the face of student censorship or actively joined it. In January 2018, dozens of faculty at the University of Chicago urged the cancellation of a planned debate on nationalism featuring Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former political adviser. Ironically, the administration of the University of Chicago has distinguished itself by explicitly disavowing the cloying rhetoric of safe spaces and trigger warnings. Apparently the administration’s admirable commitment to open debate does not run particularly deep among Chicago’s own professoriate.
Punishment for violating school rules is essential. In July 2017, Claremont McKenna handed down three one-year suspensions, two single-semester suspensions, and two conduct probations against seven CMC students for their involvement in the blockade. While the number of students disciplined is not overwhelming, those suspensions nevertheless represent the most serious discipline meted out anywhere to date against students who forcibly deny free speech. Middlebury College claims to have put dozens of students on probation in connection with the Murray incident, but none have been suspended, despite their use of criminal violence. The neighboring Claremont colleges, whose students also blocked my talk, have abstained from sanctions.
Naturally, the CMC discipline did not sit well with the students and their supporters. In May 2017, a coalition of CMC students, faculty, and alumni denounced the school’s investigation as the “further criminalization of already marginalized students.” After the suspensions were announced, the students’ attorney, who hails from Justice Warriors 4 Black Lives, called the administration’s actions “completely outrageous” and an attempt to “intimidate and bully” the blockaders. The only people bullying and intimidating others were the students themselves, but that fact does not penetrate the upside-down world of campus victimology.
We are cultivating students who lack all understanding of the principles of the American Founding. The mark of any civilization is its commitment to reason and discourse. The great accomplishment of the European Enlightenment was to require all forms of authority to justify themselves through rational argument, rather than through coercion or an unadorned appeal to tradition. The resort to brute force in the face of disagreement is particularly disturbing in a university, which should provide a model of civil discourse.
But the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combated now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.
* * *
A few weeks after my Claremont appearance, black students at Pomona College and neighboring schools in Claremont, California, published an open letter declaring their hostility to free speech—other people’s free speech, that is. The letter shows that the faculty of the Claremont colleges are failing in their most basic educational duties. The manifesto, written by “We, few of the Black students here at Pomona College and the Claremont Colleges,” was provoked by a bland statement on academic freedom by outgoing Pomona College president David Oxtoby.
Oxtoby’s statement, in turn, responded to the student blockade that tried to shut down my talk. Leave aside for a moment the letter signatories’ unblemished ignorance regarding free speech and the role of unfettered discourse in creating their own liberties. Viewed purely formally, the letter is a major embarrassment to the faculty of Pomona and the Claremont colleges.
It is filled with excruciating solecisms (“Though this institution as well as many others including this entire country, have been founded upon the oppression and degradation of marginalized bodies, it has a liability to protect the students that it serves”) and garbled regurgitations of high theory (“The notion of discourse, when it comes to discussions about experiences and identities, deters the ‘Columbusing’ of established realities and truths [coded as ‘intellectual inquiry’] that the institution promotes”).4
Does this student writing demonstrate the value of a Pomona education? Are the signatories’ professors satisfied with their command of the English language? What grade would this incoherent tract receive if turned in as a term paper—an A?
Faculty undoubtedly fear correcting the writing of “marginalized students,” lest they suffer the same scourging we will hear about in chapter 4 that was inflicted on UCLA education professor Val Rust.
The content of the letter, such as it is, should alarm the faculty as well (at least those faculty who have not inspired “We, few”’s labored efforts at Foucauldian postmodernism). The students appear to argue that the ideal of free speech is based on a mystifying and oppressive concept of unitary truth and that such a concept solidifies white supremacy: “The idea that there is a single truth—‘the Truth’—is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment.… This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”
“We, few of the Black students here at Pomona, etc.” have it exactly backward. Free speech is the best tool for challenging hegemonic power. Absolute rulers seek to crush nonconforming opinion; the censor is the essential bulwark of tyrants. Without the Enlightenment and its challenge to unquestioned authority, “We, few of the Black students” would not even be at the Claremont colleges, because those secular, independent colleges might not even exist. (It would be interesting to know how many Enlightenment philosophers “We, few” can even name; it is virtually certain that they have closely studied none.) Rhetorical persuasion was essential in the fight against slavery and Jim Crow. Frederick Douglass declared in 1860 that “slavery cannot tolerate free speech. Five years of its exercise would banish the auction block and break every chain in the South.” A mob in Boston had just stormed a meeting to prevent him and others from commemorating the radical abolitionist John Brown. Like today’s student censors, newspapers in the North had been calling for a ban on abolitionist speech. After the Boston mob attack, Douglass warned that “liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down.” “We, few of the Black students” would presumably deem Douglass a dupe.
“We, few” only pretended to be postmodern relativists. They were fully confident that they possessed the truth about me and about their oppressed plight at the Claremont schools.
Typical of all such censors and despots, “We, few of the Black students” also wanted to crush dissent. They asked 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 showed 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. Black children should be able to walk to school with as little risk of a gang attack as white children face.
The ungrammatical list of attributes that “We, few of the Black students” say disqualify me from speaking—“Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live”—unsurprisingly displayed the ignorance already familiar from the rest of their letter, since I was an early and documented opponent of the Iraq War and all such efforts at regime change. The other epithets are not worth responding to.
* * *
My campus experience has become an all-too-familiar one over the last several years.
The anti–Milo Yiannopoulos episode at Berkeley was a particularly resounding echo of a darker political era. A flamboyantly provocative Donald Trump supporter who revels in violating politically correct taboos, Yiannopoulos had been scheduled to give a talk on campus in February 2017. Both Berkeley campus and city police were woefully understaffed in preparation for his speech—undoubtedly due to the prevailing law-enforcement philosophy of not looking “confrontational.” Bay Area activists had complained during the 2014 “F—k the Police” protests, as such anticop riots are locally known, that seeing police in riot gear made them feel anxious, and the police since then had been reluctant to use traditional crowd control tactics. But serious conflict at the Milo event was a certainty, and the appearance of dozens of so-called black bloc anarchists should not have been a surprise; these lawless assailants have been a regular feature of Bay Area protests since the early 2000s.
When flaming rockets started flying at the student union where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, the University of California campus police retreated to the inside of the building and didn’t reemerge until well after the event. The event was canceled after black-masked anarchists beat and pepper-sprayed supposed attendees and hurled explosive devices at police officers. When the rioters fanned out to city streets, police commanders had neither the tactical tools nor the manpower to crack down on the chaos. The vandals ransacked and torched banks and retail businesses, breaking windows, lighting fires, and annihilating ATMs. The police made only one arrest the entire night: an arrest for failing to disperse. The rioters most certainly took notice of their unimpeded reign. The violence continued the next day, with physical assaults against Berkeley College Republicans, both on and off campus.
The next week, the Berkeley student newspaper invited several current and former columnists to justify the anti-Milo violence. It was an easy assignment. The writers needed merely to recycle the melodramatic rhetoric that university administrators and faculty had fed them for years.
One of the proviolence columnists wrote that he would “fight tooth and nail for the right to exist.” (And fight he did, by his own proud confession.) Allowing Yiannopoulos to speak “could have endangered campus students … over their identities,” he said.5 Another columnist opined that the black bloc’s attacks were “not acts of violence. They were acts of self-defense.”6 Such thinking accords with the hundred-plus faculty who sought to close down the speech on the ground that Yiannopoulos “actually harm[s] students through defamatory and harassing actions.”7
Several Berkeley professors circulated emails downplaying the significance of the violence. Déborah Blocker, associate professor of French, reported to her fellow profs about the anarchy on campus: “Mostly this was typical Black Bloc action, in a few waves—very well-organized and very efficient. They attacked property but they attacked it very sparingly, destroying just enough University property to obtain the cancellation order for the MY event and making sure no one in the crowd got hurt” [emphasis in original]. (In fact, a woman was pepper-sprayed while giving an interview and her husband was beaten so badly that several ribs were broken, among other assaults on campus.) Katrin Wehrheim, associate professor of mathematics, reported on the rioters’ progress downtown: “yes, some Bloc members did attack large corporation buildings.” But hey! Thanks to everyone “for coming out—in person or spirit!” to what was “a mostly cheerful and peaceful crowd.”
College graduates have been told for years that the United States is systemically racist and unjust. The rioters’ nauseating sense of entitlement to destroy other people’s property and to sucker punch ideological foes is a natural extension of this profound delegitimation of the American polity.
* * *
In autumn 2015, the pathological narcissism of American college students found a potentially devastating new source of power in the sports-industrial complex. University of Missouri president Timothy Wolfe resigned in the face of a threatened boycott by black football players of an upcoming game. Wolfe’s alleged sin was an insufficient appreciation for the “systematic oppression” experienced by students of color at the university. A graduate student announced a hunger strike, claiming that he had been assaulted by white students and that the N-word had been painted on his door. The administration had allowed these attacks, he said.
The university’s board of overseers convened in emergency session to discuss the football boycott; Wolfe resigned before meeting with them, issuing the standard mea culpa: “I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred.” According to The New York Times, the university could have lost more than $1 million had it forfeited its football game with Brigham Young University. A group called “Concerned Faculty” had walked off the job in solidarity with the student activists and was calling on other faculty to join them.
There is no evidence that the University of Missouri denies equal opportunity to its black students. Those black students—like every other student on campus—are surrounded by lavish educational resources, which are available to them for the asking on a color-blind basis. Nor is there any evidence of the attacks alleged by the graduate student; he reported none of them to the university or to city law enforcement. The university’s faculty and administrators are surely among the most prejudice-free, well-meaning group of adults on the planet. Thousands of Chinese students would undoubtedly do anything for the chance to be “systemically oppressed” by the University of Missouri’s stupendous laboratories and research funding.
But Missouri’s political class has embraced the patent delusion that the university is rife with racism. Governor Jay Nixon called on college officials to “ensure the University of Missouri is a place where all students can pursue their dreams in an environment of respect, tolerance and inclusion.” In truth, the only barrier to such pursuit is a student’s own lack of academic preparedness, as will be discussed in chapters 2 and 3. Mayor Bob McDavid of Columbia, Missouri—where the university’s main campus is located—told CNN after Wolfe’s resignation that he congratulated the “students on achieving their goal.” McDavid insisted that we need to “deal with the pain of minorities” and that we will be “done” only “when every student has the freedom to fulfill his dream unimpeded by racial epithets.”
The precedent set here was monumental. Any student protester who can persuade his college’s football or basketball team to threaten a strike will be able to bring administrators to their knees even more quickly than usual. Administrative cupidity and alumni fanaticism have turned the collegiate sports-industrial complex into the most powerful force on campus. If that behemoth can be reliably persuaded to support the latest racial agitation—and there will often be a critical mass of black athletes to appeal to—then an already supine leadership class will discard the reality principle once and for all.
Even without the sports-boycott tool, however, the takeover of the college campus by racial hysteria appears all but complete. A notorious video of a black female student at Yale screaming and cursing at her college master in November 2015 is a chilling portrait of self-engrossed, bathos-filled entitlement that has never been corrected by truth, much less restrained by manners: “Be quiet!” she shrieks at the frozen administrator. “Why the fuck did you accept the [master] position, who the fuck hired you?!” she continues at full, self-righteous cry. “You should not sleep at night! You are disgusting!”8
The master’s wife, child psychologist Erika Christakis, had recently suggested in an email that the Yale multiculturalism bureaucracy did not need to oversee Halloween costumes. Her email prompted an open letter signed by nearly a thousand faculty, deans, and students accusing her of racism and white supremacy and calling for her and her husband’s immediate removal from their jobs and campus home. A hundred or so mostly minority students then mobbed her husband, Nicholas Christakis, a renowned physician and sociologist, for an hours-long abuse session in the college quad that included the “Be quiet!” shriek, among equally horrifying displays of rudeness. “You are disgusting!” screamed another student. “I want your job to be taken from you. Look at me in my face first of all and understand that you are such a disappointment to this university, to your students, to yourself; you are the disgusting male you were twenty seconds ago, a day ago, and a month ago.” Time magazine had named Nicholas Christakis one of the hundred most influential people in the world in 2009, but the students knew better. When Christakis meekly tells the students that he was trying to understand their predicament, a tall male strides up to him and, inches from his face, issues the usual demand that Christakis look at him (which Christakis was already doing). Christakis later hugs the student, Abdul-Razak Mohammed Zachariah, in a conciliatory gesture, but Zachariah orders Christakis to understand that the “situation right now doesn’t require you to smile.” Another female student, Alexandra Zina Barlowe, cries that Christakis’s invocation of free speech creates “a space to allow for violence to happen on this campus.” Christakis responds: “That I disagree with.” Barlowe shouts at him: “It doesn’t matter whether you agree or not.… It’s not a debate.”9
No administrator ever reprimanded these students for their insubordination.
Instead, Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, issued the usual fawning declarations of sorrow for the tribulations experienced by Yale’s minority students. “Their concerns and cries for help made clear that some students find life on our campus profoundly difficult,” he wrote in November 2015, following up ten days later with further empathy: “In my thirty-five years on this campus, I have never been as simultaneously moved, challenged, and encouraged by our community—and all the promise it embodies—as in the past two weeks. You have offered me the opportunity to listen to and learn from you.”10
And in case anyone misunderstood where the administration’s sympathies lay, Yale conferred on Alexandra Zina Barlowe and Abdul-Razak Mohammed Zachariah its graduation prize for accomplishment in the “service of race and ethnic relations.” Yale lauded Barlowe for her “womanist, feminist, anti-racist work” and for teaching her peers, faculty, and administration about “inclusive leadership.” That inclusive leadership does not require a respect for debate, apparently.
Erika and Nicholas Christakis’s careers have been devoted to social-justice concerns. Nevertheless, Erika Christakis resigned from teaching at Yale and Nicholas Christakis canceled his spring 2016 courses, after students marched on their home and chalked hostile messages outside their bedroom window. They resigned from their roles as college master in May 2016 after some students refused to accept their diplomas from Nicholas Christakis. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was hardly more efficient.
* * *
A similar capitulation—minus the expletives—took place at Emory University, when several dozen Emory students barged into the school’s administration building to demand protection from “Trump 2016” slogans that had been written in chalk on campus walkways. Acting out a by-now standardized psychodrama of oppression and vulnerability, the students claimed that seeing Trump’s name on the sidewalk confirmed that, as minorities, they were “unsafe” at Emory. College sophomore Jonathan Peraza led the allegedly traumatized students in a chant: “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!”
As the Emory protesters entered the administration building, they drew on The Communist Manifesto (probably the only political theory they have even heard of) to express their plight: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”11
The order of the day was feelings. “What are we feeling?” protest leader Peraza asked his fellow sufferers, consistent with the neo-Victorian sentimentalism currently dominant on campuses. “Frustration” and “fear” were the answers. “I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” a student told an Emory Wheel reporter. “I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”
Emory protesters leveraged their Trump-induced “pain” and “unsafety” into the all-too-familiar demand for more diversity hires. The Emory students also picked up on an exculpatory meme to explain why affirmative action admits are not competitive scholastically: because they are so burdened by the need to create safe spaces for themselves. An Emory student told President James Wagner that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community.”
Put aside for a moment the students’ demand for protection from political speech. (“Trump 2016” chalked on a sidewalk cannot be classed as a provocation.) Their self-image as immiserated proletarians, huddled together for safety and support, is pure fantasy. In fact, they are supremely fortunate, enjoying unfettered access to intellectual, scientific, and social resources that would have been the envy of every monarch in the age of absolutism. And any administrator who wants to prepare students for an objective relationship to reality would seek to convey that truth. By contrast, rewarding students’ delusional self-pity only increases the likelihood that they will fail to take advantage of the enormous intellectual riches at their fingertips and go through life with self-defeating chips on their shoulders. But President Wagner followed obsequiously in the footsteps of virtually every other college president confronted by student claims of “unsafety”—he rolled over completely.
After initially declining, to his credit, to send a campus email decrying support for the “fascist, racist” Trump, Wagner nevertheless penned a missive that validated every aspect of the students’ self-pity. He told the “Emory Community” that the students “voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation” from the Trump chalkings, and that he “cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity.”
Therefore, he was announcing a four-point plan to “recognize, listen to, and honor the concerns of these students.” That plan included “a formal process to institutionalize identification, review, and addressing [sic] of social justice opportunities and issues.” An annual Racial Justice Retreat and better procedures for reporting and responding to bias was promised. The university would be reviewing security videotape to identify the chalkers and submit them to the “conduct violation process,” according to the Wheel, for possible violations of regulations requiring preapproval for chalkings. Would the same policies and procedures have been enforced if the chalking had read “Clinton 2016”?
Wagner paid lip service to free speech—only to qualify it with “safe spaces” jargon: “As an academic community, we must value and encourage the expression of ideas, vigorous debate, speech, dissent and protest. At the same time, our commitment to respect, civility, and inclusion calls us to provide a safe environment that inspires and supports courageous inquiry.”12 Why does “courageous inquiry” require a “safe environment”? If inquiry is “courageous,” presumably it can withstand the pampered, hothouse climate of a college campus.
Any college president who adopts the rhetoric of “safe spaces” is already lost. Such rhetoric implies that there is somewhere on his campus that is not “safe”—a complete fiction. Wagner is an engineer by training, suggesting that a science background, with its grounding in the empirical method, does not inoculate a college president against cowardice when facing student neurasthenia.
Wagner wrapped up his campus-wide message with an echo from Yale: a paean to the protesters for teaching him so much. “I learn from every conversation like the one that took place yesterday and know that further conversations are necessary,” Wagner wrote, recalling Salovey’s even more revolting love letter to disruptive students.
Obviously, the Emory students need some basic civics lessons in political debate. They are likely to encounter more names of candidates they deplore over the course of their lives. They will not have a campus bureaucracy to run to for protection, in what has become the reflex reaction of students today to any behavior they don’t like. The mature response to political speech that you disagree with is argument.
But the Emory students need something even more fundamental than an understanding of free speech and democratic persuasion. They need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and gain some perspective on their own privilege as members of a great university.
* * *
What’s behind this soft totalitarianism? It is routinely misdiagnosed as primarily a psychological disorder. Young “snowflakes,” the thinking goes, have been overprotected by helicopter parents, and now are unprepared for the trivial conflicts of ordinary life.
“The Coddling of the American Mind,” a 2015 article in The Atlantic (now expanded into a book), has been the most influential treatment of the psychological explanation. The movement to penalize certain ideas is “largely about emotional well-being,” argues Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Jonathan Haidt of New York University. The authors take activists’ claims of psychological injury at face value and propose that freshmen orientations teach students cognitive behavioral therapy so as to preserve their mental health in the face of differing opinions.
But if risk-averse child-rearing is the source of the problem, why aren’t heterosexual white male students demanding “safe spaces”? They had the same kind of parents as the outraged young women who claim to be under lethal assault from the patriarchy. And they are the targets of a pervasive discourse that portrays them as the root of all evil. Unlike any other group on a college campus, they are stigmatized with impunity, blamed for everything from “rape culture” to racial oppression.
Campus intolerance is at root not a psychological phenomenon but an ideological one. At its center is a worldview that sees Western culture as endemically racist and sexist. The overriding goal of the educational establishment is to teach young people within the ever-growing list of official victim classifications to view themselves as existentially oppressed. One outcome of that teaching is the forceful silencing of contrarian speech.
Such maudlin pleas for self-preservation are typical. An editorial in the Wellesley College student newspaper defended “shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others.”
Offending “rhetoric” frequently includes the greatest works of Western civilization. In November 2015, a Columbia University sophomore announced on Facebook that his “health and life” were threatened by a core curriculum course taught by a white professor. The comment thread exploded with sympathetic rage: “The majority of why?te [sic] students taking [Contemporary Civilization] and on this campus never have to be consistently aware of their identities as white ppl while sitting in CC reading racist, patriarchal texts taught by white professors who most likely are unaware of the various forms of impact that CC texts have on people of color.”
Another sophomore fulminated: “Many of these texts INSPIRED THE RACISM THAT I’M FORCED TO LIVE WITH DAILY, and to expect, or even suggest, that that doesn’t matter, is fucking belittling, insulting, and WAY OUT OF FUCKING LINE.”13 Those “racist” texts include works by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Rousseau, and Mill.
Many observers dismiss such ignorant tantrums as a phase that will end once the “snowflakes” encounter the real world. But the graduates of the academic victimology complex are remaking the world in their image (as we will see at length in chapter 11). Consider the firing of Google engineer James Damore in August 2017 for questioning the company’s diversity ideology. After attending a diversity training session, Damore wrote a ten-page memo titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” He observed that “differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership.” Among those traits are assertiveness, a drive for status, an orientation toward things rather than people, and a tolerance for stress. He acknowledged that many of the differences in distribution are small and overlap significantly between the sexes, so that one cannot assume on the basis of sex where any given individual falls on the psychological spectrum. Considerable research supports Damore’s claims regarding male and female career preferences and personality traits.
Damore affirmed his commitment to diversity and suggested ways to make software engineering more people-oriented. But he pointed out that several of Google’s practices for engineering diversity discriminated in favor of women and minorities. And he called for greater openness to ideas that challenge progressive dogma, especially the “science of human nature,” which shows that not all differences are “socially constructed or due to discrimination.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai employed the academy’s bathetic language of injury in his response to Damore. “The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender,” he asserted in a memo of his own.14 Yonatan Zunger, a recently departed Google senior engineer, claimed in an online essay that the speculations of Damore, a junior employee, have “caused significant harm to people across this company, and to the company’s entire ability to function.” He added that “not all conversations about ideas even have basic legitimacy”15 [emphasis in original].
Ironically, Google is making even stronger claims than Damore is about the company’s lack of bias against women. US Labor Department auditors allege that the company’s salary differentials reflect sex discrimination; Google strenuously denies it. “We remain committed to treating, and paying, people fairly and without bias with regard to factors like gender or race,” Eileen Naughton, vice president of “people operations,” said in July 2017. “We are proud of our practices and leadership in this area.” But typical of the cognitive dissonance affecting every diversity-obsessed company, Google puts its workers through “implicit bias” training on the theory that such biases inevitably cloud their ability to judge female and minority employees and job applicants fairly.
The corporate world is even mimicking academia in its inhospitality to nonconforming speakers. Earlier in 2017, a Google employee had asked me if I would be interested in speaking there about the police. The employee ultimately decided he could not go through with the invitation, however, citing “personal/professional matters” that he had to take into account for himself. An affiliation, however remote, with someone who challenges the Black Lives Matter narrative is apparently a job hazard at Google. A discrimination lawsuit filed by Damore in January 2018 alleges that Google keeps a black list of right-wing commentators who set off silent security alarms if they try to enter the Google campus.
Don’t assume that the discipline of the marketplace will prevent this imported academic victimology from harming business competitiveness. Google sets managerial goals for increased diversity. Damore wrote that he has observed such goals resulting in discrimination. That is fully believable. A comment on an internal anonymous discussion app warned that more Google employees need to stand up “against the insanity. Otherwise ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ which is essentially a pipeline from Women’s and African Studies, will ruin the company.”16
The more resources that US companies spend on engineering diversity while global competing firms base themselves on meritocracy, the more we blunt our scientific edge. Employees are thinking about leaving Google because of its heavy-handed ideology, Damore said in an interview after his firing. While the prestige of elite companies may outweigh the burden of censorship for now, there may come a point when the calculus changes.
Eric Schmidt, outgoing chairman of Google parent Alphabet Inc., told a June 2017 shareholder meeting that Google was founded on the principle of “science-based thinking.” It says a lot about the corporate world that it makes universities look like an open marketplace of ideas. Research into biological differences may be unwelcome in much of academia, but it proceeds on the margins nevertheless. In the country’s most powerful companies, however, it is enough to disparage a scientific finding as a “stereotype” to absolve the speaker from considering the question: But is it true?
And now that zeal for censoring politically incorrect facts is working its way into the apparatus of government itself. In February 2018, an associate general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board released an official “Advice Memorandum” holding that Google was justified in firing Damore. Damore had filed a complaint with the NLRB in August 2017, but withdrew it in January 2018 after filing a lawsuit in state court. The associate general counsel went ahead and published her opinion anyway, though the issue was moot.
Damore’s statements about “purported biological differences between men and women” were “discriminatory and constituted sexual harassment,” declared NLRB counsel Jayme Sophir. Sophir sneers that Damore tried to cloak his comments with “‘scientific’ references and analysis.” She makes no effort to determine whether that science met traditional research standards, which it does. If it contradicts feminist ideology, it must be both wrong and suppressed. Sophir notes that some of Google’s employees had complained that Damore’s memo made them feel “unsafe at work.” Thus does bathos-filled academic victimology get bootstrapped into further assaults on rational inquiry outside the academy.
Sophir’s advice memo does not have the force of law, but it is a barometer of which way the wind is blowing in government bureaucracies. As we will see, her views are hardly unique. The logic of her ruling means that any academic researcher investigating biological differences between the sexes is at risk of his job. Evolutionary biologists, psychologists, linguists, neurologists, or economists—anyone who has documented different risk preferences, ways of communicating, emotional bonding, or levels of aggression between males and females—could be fired for engaging in what Sophir labels “harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive” practices. This ruling, were it to become the standard governmental response to research on the sexes, would end that field of science entirely and create a chilling effect in many other areas.
* * *
Faculty and campus administrators must start defending the Enlightenment legacy of reason and civil debate. But even if dissenting thought were welcome on college campuses, the ideology of victimhood would still wreak havoc on American society and civil harmony. The silencing of speech is a massive problem, but it is a symptom of an even more profound distortion of reality. This distortion has its roots partly in well-intentioned public policies designed to advance minorities in the American education system, particularly in higher education; the objective failure of these policies has led to ever-more contorted theoretical efforts to explain their failures as the result of systemic racism, leading to an ideology of victimization that largely defines the campus environment today.
Copyright © 2018 by Heather Mac Donald.