Struggle for Freedom in America’s Schools

Published March 18, 2016

By Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O’Neil – 

There has always been a struggle to keep our freedom and, it is the responsibility of each generation to do what is necessary to retain this most valuable asset. Today our battle for that basic right is happening at the most unlikely of places: college campuses. Few parents, even the ones who pay massive college tuition bills, may not know their children are being challenged by an unprecedented dose of liberal indoctrination by teachers, professors, school administrators, and outside political activists who use intimidating tactics to persuade students to their viewpoint.

These people decide what speech is politically correct and most often the verdict is liberal speeches are welcome and those expressing conservative values are rejected. Thus, students are left without the advantage of even hearing, let alone considering, opposing facts and/or credible arguments about key controversial issues of our day.  

It is time for American taxpayers to demand that classrooms present both points of views equally and that outside groups from both political spectrums be treated equally and fairly regarding requests for speaking on college campuses, especially those that receive federal or state funding.  

An example of the imbalance can be seen when examining the college commencement speaker circuit.  Among the top 100 campuses in the nation, liberal speakers outnumber conservatives 6-to-1.  Among the top 50, the ratio increases to nine liberals for every one conservative. Among the elite top ten universities, there were no conservatives invited to speak whatsoever. 

Condeleezza Rice uninvited at Rutgers

A particularly unfortunate example of college administrators allowing their liberal staff and aggressive liberal students to dictate which speakers are acceptable happened at Rutgers.  Upon learning that former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice was invited to give the commencement speech/  liberals on and off campus initiated a highly charged negative campaign to embroil the campus into a nasty controversy that maligned the Secretary and demanded she be rejected. Rutgers did little to stop the antagonistic agenda.  Rather than allow her visit to be a catalyst for further liberal propaganda and to put an end to the negativity on campus, Secretary Rice graciously rescinded the invite.  She had the best interests of the graduates in mind and is to be commended, but the result was liberal agitators were invigorated by their victory.  Is this what colleges are teaching our children:  the loudest and most rude among us win?  Unfortunately, it is the students who ultimately lose because they are not allowed to hear messages from other points of view.  This is a Marxist tactic and astonishing to know it is flourishing in America.  It should be a wake-up call to every American patriot to get involved and demand an investigation as to its sources and legality.  

Ironically, Rutger graduates were deprived of hearing from a brilliant Black woman, born during the days of segregation, whose hard work, diligence, and exemplary moral ethics allowed her to become America’s Secretary of State.  What an amazing example for students whatever their ethnicity.  Why wouldn’t the Black community want to promote the success of this amazing woman?  The obvious answer is she is a living testimony that Blacks can and do succeed on their own merits; they do not need Black Lives Matter antagonists to tell them they cannot achieve success without the tactics employed by their group.   

Secretary Rice was not the only victim of Black Lives Matter at Rutgers.  With the help of feminist fascists they also disrupted Milo Yiannopoulos by smearing fake blood on their faces and acting exceedingly obnoxious in their attempt to shut down his conservative message.   Leftists are known to intentionally silent opposition with their aggressive behavior and they particularly dislike and attack speakers who are Black or gay conservatives like Milo.

Lack of discipline fosters radical behavior

Shame on the Rutger administration for its timidity in disciplining radical behavior on their campus, thus depriving students of differing viewpoints on subjects of substance, but Rutgers is just one of many schools that promote liberal speech on its campus while muzzling conservative ideas.  Recently, a student senator at U.S.C. became a victim of those who are unwilling to entertain any differing views.  Jacob Ellenhorn faces impeachment for the crime of publicly expressing his conservative opinions and inviting high-profile conservative speakers to campus.  Ellenhorn complained “freedom of speech and freedom to express your views are not allowed by the University of Southern California student government right now.”   He might have added “if your message is politically conservative.”   Interestingly, U.S.C. just topped all American Universities for its yearly tuition sticker price.  Could this be due to wealthy conservative donors who have decided the school has become too liberal to be considered a good investment, and thus USC must find other sources to pay the high wages of their liberal staff? 

It has been said that “The struggle for freedom at universities is one of the defining struggles of our age.”  It may surprise people to know it is a struggle that has been in progress for decades, but has become exceedingly more evident in recent years.  The question is how and what can be done to stop our children and future leaders from being indoctrinated with a specific political viewpoint? 

Poll indicate students want free speech

Young Americans Foundation conducted polls on college campuses throughout America and asked the question “How important do you think it is to protect free speech at colleges and universities?  93% polled said it was important.   Asked if political correctness and over-sensitivity make it difficult to openly talk about culture, gender, race, ethnicity, discrimination, or racism at their college, 64% said it was difficult.  These statistics seem to indicate students want free speech, but why then are so many frightened to discuss it?  Perhaps because groups like Black Lives Matter bully students and liberal professors punish those who express conservative ideals.  Unless you are a liberal, your views are not welcome on college campuses today.  This bias must stop; a more politically balanced staff must be hired, and parents and all citizens need to become watchdogs to assure political neutrality and fairness. Anything less is a form of indoctrination and unacceptable.

There should not be a need for school “safe zones” where one is relegated to express or hear controversial issues. Such places send a message that controversial subjects are unhealthy, unsafe, and to be avoided. 

Infantilized college students need “safe spaces”

As Judith Shulevitz wrote in the New York Times, infantilized college students are indulging their need for insulation by demanding “safe spaces” where any speech that could hurt their feelings would be forbidden.

Following is an egregious example among those noted by Ms. Shulevitz which verges on the incredible. 

When a student group at Brown University called the Sexual Assault Task Force discovered that a debate was to be held where one participant, a libertarian, would slam the term ‘rape culture’,” the group protested to the administration. That prompted Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, to schedule a talk concurrent with the debate that would provide research and facts about the role of culture in sexual assault.  A “safe space” was created for students upset by the debate; the space included cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets, and a video of puppies.

In an essay for Inside Higher Ed, Judith Shapiro, the former president of Barnard College, called the prevailing attitude that students should not be offended “self-infantilization.” Eric Posner, from the University of Chicago Law School,wrote on Slate that today’s undergraduates are more childish than undergraduates of previous eras. 

Have we raised a nation of self-centered, easily frightened, wimps?  Maybe they need to be reminded of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”

President Piper of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, an exception

A pleasant exception to liberals dominating our places of higher learning is Oklahoma Wesleyan University President, Everett Piper.   Piper’s analysis of this problem was summed up with this statement:  

“This is a university, not a day care.  I’m not here to make you comfortable or feel safe. I’m here to confront your character.”

Hopefully, there are other sensible college officials like President Piper, dedicated to restoring campuses with more balanced political thought, equal representation, tolerance, and respect for others who have differing opinions, whether on the campus or in the classroom.   Free speech must be protected in a free country, rather than be protected from it.  

How best to serve students

Students will be best served after leaving college if they know more than just facts and figures, because the success of a person is often determined by how well they interact with others in the workplace and home.  Skills such as purposing to listen to information from others and knowing how to evaluate its accuracy, considering others viewpoints, learning to disagree without being offensive, practicing the art of informative conversations, all become as important as any other skill they learn in life.

The exchange of ideas is a valuable learning tool that should be a part of every school experience.  It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who stated:  “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” One-sided viewpoints that are not allowed to be challenged cannot be beneficial.  Professors more interested in brainwashing their students have no place in the classroom.  

It benefits both the student and society when boys and girls graduate as adults; challenging themselves to consider all they have learned and how best to apply it to their lives.  These young people are America’s future.  We must hope there are other sensible college officials like President Piper, who understand colleges are not to be used to coddle students, but to ready them to the World in which they will need to function and succeed.  Therefore, it is essential a more balanced political climate is restored to our school campuses.  Tolerance and respect for others’ viewpoints is not an option; it must be learned through example and then strictly enforced inside and outside of the classroom by students, professors, administrators, and guests to each college campus. 

Thorner/O’Neil: Campus Radicals Attempt to Stifle Free Speech

[Originally published at Illinois Review]