So here we are as a nation, at the intersection of fear and despair, and what do we get? A blessing on the activities of the latter-day Hitler Youth among the nations “progressive” collegians! This, courtesy of a piece written by one Lucia Graves, as published in National Journal.
Under the title “The Case for Protesting Your Commencement Speaker,” Graves manages to assemble, in the fewest number of words, more non sequiturs, straw men, and fallacies than should be permitted any professional journalist.
Of course some might argue that Graves is neither professional nor a journalist. Having formerly written for the Huffington Post about energy matters, where she demonstrated the same facility for agitprop that she displays in the NJ piece, Graves more closely resembles a wannabe editorialist or MSNBC commentator than a journalist or reporter.
For those who get the picture already, and would rather not inflict on themselves the whole of Graves’s opus, it’s perhaps enough just to know the subtitle of her piece: “These students aren’t silencing debate. They’re creating it.”
That statement sums up nicely the quality of what Graves has to say about the recent travesties at Rutgers, Haverford, Smith, and numerous other colleges, where students and faculty have succeeded in shouting down, or otherwise causing the cancellation of appearances at campus events, of speakers who have said or done something that gives offense to the PC police and student/faculty progressives.
Graves’s argument is reminiscent of one made by a protester at Brown University who, fresh off a successful shout down of the New York City chief of police, averred that the affair “was a powerful demonstration of free speech.” As written at the time, the Brown case was a powerful demonstration of free speech in the same way that a mugging is a powerful demonstration of free will.
Similarly, the protesters of which Graves speaks “created debate” only in the sense that, by their actions, they have demonstrated the peril in the growth and nurturing of a mindset and a movement that are, at bottom, fascistic.
Given her inconsequence and modest ability, one might wonder about the need to criticize Graves at all. Indeed, the criticism here is pretty tame compared to the kind she gets in the (highly recommended) comments her piece attracted in NJ itself. Moreover, one should hasten to commend (even as Graves objects to) a number of liberal outlets, including Slate, Vox, the Nation, and the Daily Beast, which have roundly criticized the campus thuggery.
Even so, there remain reasons to criticize Graves, most notably because she’s far from alone, and the disease of which she’s a carrier is found not just on campus but off campus as well.
Witness, for instance, the latest chapter in the ongoing attempt by “climate change” activists to isolate and censor climate scientists who say or do things that indicate any degree of skepticism about the subject.
As reported, Swedish climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson’s scholarly paper was rejected for publication by a leading scientific journal after one reviewer criticized it on the grounds that it would provide fodder for climate change skeptics. Bengtsson’s crime? He and his four co-authors suggested that climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than has been reported by the UN’s IPCC.
When, as now, too many people believe that the ends justify the means, even the most basic of human rights, like freedom of speech, can be targeted by propagandists.
The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and not of The Media Institute, its Board, contributors, or advisory councils.