Tigerhawk has more about the incident at Columbia University that I commented on yesterday. Tigerhawk point out that the stifling of free speech at colleges is not even remotely a new tactic and has been used reliably by the left at those institutions for decades.
This business of leftist university students interdicting mainstream but politically incorrect speakers is not, unfortunately, new. It is a tried and true tactic that my father, who was a professor of history at the University of Iowa, had to confront in 1972, when leftists shouted down Harvard professor Richard Herrnstein (whose theories about the inheritability of intelligence were most decidedly un-PC). My father's actions in connection with that episode taught me a lesson that university bureaucrats would do well to adopt today. While refusing to endorse Herrnstein's opinions, he cancelled a class to protest Iowa's failure to secure Professor Herrnstein's speech, saying this to his students:
Before you start writing, there is one matter which I feel I must talk to you about, even though you are probably sick of hearing about it. The deliberate and successful attack on academic freedom which occurred here a week ago was the most tragic and upsetting thing which has happened in the three years I have been here. I feel that I can’t continue to perform my duties here without saying or doing something to make public my sorrow and my sense of outrage.
Because there is such pressure for conformity in a large industrial society, a university has to promote diversity more than ever before. But it cannot offer you diversity of opinion or provide anything more than mere indoctrination unless every faculty member has the fully guaranteed right to say what he thinks is the truth, not simply what one political group wants him to say. This right is academic freedom. Without it, I could not remain in this profession and your prospects for a broad and diversified educational experience would be gone ….
I think that neither you nor I can afford to have this issue swept under the rug. As a means of symbolizing my protest at the administration’s failure in this case, I am canceling Monday’s lecture in this course. I hope that you will take a few moments during that hour to reflect on the fact that freedom is very hard to win and very easy to lose.
Tigerhawk also points out that colleges have a proven track record for giving a speaking venue to just about any self described sworn enemy of the United States. It does kind of tell you that there is a massive problem in higher education. As if we did not already know that.