Publius / November 13, 2015

Liberal Professor’s Choice Words for Student Fascists

“The fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities.”

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Clintonista stalwart, appeared on Megyn Kelly’s Fox program to discuss the suppression of free speech sweeping the nation’s universities. He isn’t thrilled with the movement and didn’t offer kind words. Instead, he heavily criticized the students’ childish antics. From the interview:

“These are the same people who claim they’re seeking diversity. The last thing many of these students want is real diversity, diversity of ideas. They may want superficial diversity of gender or superficial diversity of color, but they don’t want diversity of ideas. We’re seeing a curtain of McCarthyism descend over many college campuses. I don’t want to make apologies to the 1930s, but we have to remember that it was the students at universities who first started burning books during the Nazi regime. And these students are book burners. They don’t want to hear diverse views on college campuses. … It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. They want complete freedom over their sex lives, over their personal ives, over the use of drugs, but they want mommy and daddy dean and president to please give them a safe place [to] protect them from ideas that may be insensitive and maybe will make them think. … If you’re going to be a college administrator or a professor, if you have tenure, you have to speak back to the students, you have to call these things what they are: double standards, hypocrisy, bigotry, McCarthyism, and the fog of fascism is descending quickly over many American universities. We have to fight back against these students.”

On that last point, commentator David Harsanyi echoes Dershowitz’s perspective. He writes:

“The thousands of other University of Missouri students … could have held a counter-protest against dimwitted fascists cloistered in safe spaces. Where are those student groups? Why was there no pushback from those kids — and really, there was none as far as I can tell, at either Missouri or Yale — against the bullies who want administrators fired for thought crimes? It can mean that students are too intimidated, too uninterested or not very idealistic about these freedoms. None of those things bodes well for the future.

"And where is the faculty, those brave souls who value the freedom to debate and champion sometimes-controversial ideas when mobs of students are making wild accusations against their school without any real evidence? Where are they when students shut down conservative, libertarian or not-progressive-enough Democrats from speaking at their schools?

Fellow commentator Mona Charen, meanwhile, gets to the crux of the problem:

"During what liberal academics praised as the ‘idealistic’ 1960s, American students (sometimes armed) seized buildings, held a dean hostage, looted research files and committed promiscuous vandalism. Nazi students (egged on by professors) ‘cleansed’ Heidelberg and other universities of Jews and others. Russian universities became incubators for radicals who took their ideas into the streets. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s faithful pupils subjected their teachers to ‘re-education’ and even occasionally cannibalized them.

"Students are natural radicals. The job of academics in a free society that hopes to remain so is to instill respect for freedom of thought and expression. Our problem is that many of the students who were burning professors’ research notes in the 1960s are now on the faculty.”

We’re reaping what we’ve sowed.

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