- What is the percentage of tenured faculty on American campuses who are still unambiguously on the side of free intellectual exchange?
- What is the percentage of them who are willing to express that position openly?
Sociologist Charles Murray asked those questions near the end of his reflections on Thursday’s Middlebury College event, in which his speaking engagement was interrupted by shouting mobs and he and his colleagues were physically attacked*.
Murray thinks the answer to the first question is “more than 50 percent.” He doubts that is the answer to the second.
He is pessimistic about free inquiry on campus.
And has reason to be.
College faculty members are closing ranks, as many at Middlebury did, calling Murray — famous for books such as Losing Ground and The Bell Curve — “a discredited ideologue paid by the American Enterprise Institute to promote public policies targeting people of color, women and the poor”** and “not an academic nor a ‘critically acclaimed’ public scholar, but a well-funded phony.”
Mark J. Perry has listed many more complaints, all offered as reasons not to listen or debate with the famous intellectual.
That was last Thursday. On Saturday, a pro-Trump, “Proud Boys” march in Berkeley culminated not only in violence, bloodied faces, destroyed property, but also in the burning of a purloined “Free Speech” placard.
The University of California at Berkeley seems uninterested in controlling the mobs. Berkeley City Police have poorly defended non-leftist protestors. It’s open season on freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble.
Unless something is done, officially, mobbing will be the new normal. And our basic rights? A memory.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* His colleague Professor Allison Stanger was seriously injured in the riotous shoving and grabbing. Murray tweeted yesterday, “Everybody in the mob could be criminally prosecuted, but those who injured Prof. Stranger must be.”
** It is worth noting that his recent Coming Apart was entirely devoted to the economic performance and culture of white Americans.