You know that sense of pride most people feel for their alma mater? I don’t feel that at all.
Elon University is a mid-sized liberal arts school in North Carolina. For about a century after its founding as Elon College in 1889, it was only locally known. But like many institutions of higher “education,” it has benefitted from the academic boom of the late 20th century, when society decided that all young people must leave home at age 18 to become enlightened at some faraway school of fancy book learnin’ or risk the supposed embarrassment of remaining “backwards” and “uneducated” like their rube parents back home.
I graduated from Elon in 2014, just around the time when the idiot Millennials we now describe as “woke” were waking up. But for a couple of good friends I made along the way, I wouldn’t exactly call it a worthwhile experience. I breezed my way to a bachelor’s in business administration, and managed to miss out on all that enlightenment I was promised.
But this piece isn’t about my grievances with the academy, which enriches itself while constantly lowering the bar for student admissions, churning out assembly-line drones who have never had an original thought, all while saddling those drones with crushing debt they’ll likely never be able to pay, only for most of them to find that their degree isn’t worth the paper on which it’s printed.
This piece is not about that. This piece is about Megan Squire.
Squire is a professor of computer science at Elon. She describes herself as a researcher of “far-right extremism,” and she’s a fellow at the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), itself a far-Left group. Squire has dedicated her life’s work to online tracking and listing of people who harbor the “wrong” political opinions. Why should anyone need a list of people who harbor the “wrong” political opinions? You’ll have to ask Squire or my alma mater, which pays her salary.
Of late, Squire has been focused on deplatforming young conservatives from Dlive, an emerging online live streaming service. Many of Dlive’s most prominent users have already been deplatformed from the likes of YouTube by self-appointed internet hall monitors like Squire. Dlive, like YouTube, allows content creators to collect cash from viewers while streaming. Squire apparently resents the fact that “far-right extremists,” a term that she and her friends conveniently get to define, are allowed to make money on the internet or, more broadly, exist in polite society.
“Yep we have a problem on DLive, friends,” she tweeted recently. “I wrote software to track the earnings of 72 far-right streamers and some of them are cashing out over $10,000 per month on the service.”
Here’s the trouble: many of the people Squire has deemed “a problem” are my friends and acquaintances, and the university from which I graduated, via Squire, has a direct stake in banishing those friends and acquaintances from the internet. Such banishment is tantamount to the destruction of their livelihoods.
While I don’t unequivocally endorse every word ever said by any and all of the objects of Squire’s ire, her assault on freedom of expression doesn’t exactly motivate me to don an Elon ball cap and attend the homecoming game. I have been stripped of my school spirit by a university administration with the gall to hire a leftist thug who hates people who think like me, and disguises her hatred as “academic research.”
And Squire is a leftist thug.
While she fights “far-right extremism” online, she, like many of her colleagues, is a far-left extremist in real life.
Squire used to proudly display her fondness for Vladimir Lenin in a photograph taken at the dictator’s tomb, which was until recently her profile picture on Twitter.
She has been photographed protesting with anarchist groups such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and with the John Brown Gun Club (JBGC). The latter group considers Willem Van Spronsen, a former member who firebombed an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Tacoma, Washington before dying in a shootout with police, to be a martyr for their cause.
To be clear, none of my friends whom Squire seeks to deplatform have ever affiliated themselves with any group that has committed an act of domestic terror against the federal government. But Squire has.
Despite her hypocrisy, I’m an adult who can handle differing political viewpoints, so I respect Squire’s right to protest for political causes dear to her. That’s how a free society is supposed to function. My alma mater professes to share this fundamental view.
As part of its “core values,” Elon claims to “embrace diversity in its broadest sense, including, but not limited to . . . intellectual viewpoint.”
But since Squire wants to banish my friends from polite discourse, and since my alma mater employs Squire, it’s obvious that some exceptions apply.
It’s an all-too-familiar song and dance on university campuses. Liberal academics have been disinterested in the free exchange of ideas for some time. Free expression is permissible only to the extent which the liberals who run the place say it’s allowed. The same people who at one point might have disagreed with your views, but would have fought to the death for your right to express them, have replaced that mantra with relentless illiberal conformity, which they now conflate with moral virtuousness.
Sadly, my alma mater has fallen into this trap.
In a truly free nation, the only unacceptable opinion is that unacceptable opinions exist, and Elon University deserves to be shamed and shunned by alumni who care about the basic tenet of democracy—free expression—until the likes of Squire are purged from its payroll forever.