The attack on Middlebury College political science professor Allison Stanger, who moderated a talk by scholar Charles Murray, has received some attention—as it should. There is something about the image of a professor wearing a neck brace from an attack by a mob on campus that should raise alarms.
Stanger became a target by virtue of her proximity to Murray, a distinguished social scientist, as they were leaving campus. The book he was there to discuss, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, is essential reading, especially for those who want insight into recent political developments. Indeed, if Democrats were smart they would study it as a manual for explaining their recent losses.
But the Left does not study its failures to persuade because persuasion is not a Leftist virtue. Instead, especially on our campuses, they resort to mob tactics, preventing students from hearing certain speakers. Many, including some professors, dismiss Murray out of hand, and admit to having not read the book he was there to discuss; instead, they repeat smears spread by the Southern Poverty Law Center about his book, The Bell Curve—though most haven’t bothered to read that one, either.
One anti-Murray academic at Middlebury is Professor Stanger—yes, the very same Stanger who was injured in the infamous altercation. After college president Laurie Patton introduced Murray by calling his views “repugnant” and stating, “We are a left-leaning campus,” Stanger expressed her disapproval of their guest, as Peter Wood described, by “participating” in the protest that drowned him out and made it necessary for them to relocate to a safe location and live stream the talk.
Stanger’s and Patton’s remarks also gave tacit permission for the mob to jeer Alexander Khan, co-president of the American Enterprise Institute student club that sponsored Murray’s talk, as he made introductory remarks. It is ironic that a professor, especially one who egged on a mob against conservative students and their invited speaker, was the one sent to the emergency room.
Professors such as Stanger, who have little regard for the well-being of conservative students, are found on campuses across the country. The experience of one of the undergraduate fellows at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), where I am a resident fellow, Liz Barry, is illustrative. Barry, a Hamilton College senior, is an accomplished young woman: leader of the campus Republican Club, athlete, member of the Dean’s list and honor society, and editor-in-chief of the AHI-sponsored student newsletter, Enquiry.
But she is feeling increasingly unsafe on a campus plastered with posters in the library offering help from the “bias response team” and in the ladies room about sexual assault or harassment.
As she described in Enquiry, on Election Day Liz was called a racist, bigot, and homophobe. That day a male Hamilton student followed her as she walked across campus, shouting insults at her. As Barry correctly pointed out, had she been a member of an approved victim group, such as a minority or LGBTQ+, there would have been a bias incident report and “group counseling available for the entire student body.” But there is no such consideration for students like Liz Barry.
Barry was also bullied by art professor Katharine Kuharic for daring to send out a campus-wide invitation to the AHI’s inauguration day viewing party for students and community members. Kuharic forwarded a faculty-wide email to Barry about the Women’s March against the Trump presidency, with the snide comment, “’You may want to discuss as the US inaugurates an illegitimate Russian puppet intent on destroying the constitutional rights to free speech, press, religious practice and birthright citizenship.’”
While Hamilton College professors organized a post-election rally on the village square and representation for the college at the post-inaugural women’s march in Washington, D.C., (praised on the college website as “Becoming a Part of History”), they organized no events for viewing the inauguration on campus. To express an interest in watching the inauguration on campus with anything less than visible hostility and resistance would have been considered an expression of hate, no doubt.
What a contrast to the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008! On this and on other campuses, such as the community college where I was teaching at the time, professors were encouraged to take their classes to witness the “historic” event in the auditorium.
Other forms of harassment are par for the course when one is involved with a student newsletter that deviates from the Trump-bashing, Planned-Parenthood supporting, BDSM sex-advice-giving campus publications. Liz Barry’s experience of having copies of her paper ripped up or stolen and receiving anonymous notes in her campus mailbox demanding she stop publishing “offensive and inappropriate” articles follows what previous editors of Enquiry had experienced.
Her description of conservative students being “shamed out of classes,” “ridiculed by professors and students alike,” and receiving suspiciously low grades is just a continuation of what I have been hearing since 2011. The hostile campus environment has long discriminated against those of us with Ph.D.s. As I recounted in my previous article, it is dissuading students from pursuing careers in college teaching, as I learned in the summer of 2011 when I met one Hamilton College student who decided against such a career because of the treatment he had received from professors.
It’s becoming such a torture to even get a four-year degree it wouldn’t be surprising if conservatives started having second thoughts about going to college at all.
The apologists for the left-wing campus mob-ocracy who are quoted repeatedly in Inside Higher Ed are like apologists for Jim Crow in the past. They maintain that conservatives are just not smart enough or interested in “higher learning.” And so if conservatives voluntarily decrease their numbers at four-year colleges, these apologists are unlikely to see anything strange or unwelcome in that development.
Even if conservative undergraduates are put in neck braces, I doubt that these academic fascists will see the broader connection to the cultural and political divide they are creating. That’s something that Charles Murray could tell them about, if they would listen.