Most of you are aware of the disintegration of the intellectual discourse on our college campuses. David Horowitz in particular continues his extraordinary work to expose and reverse the disaster leftist academics are making of our universities.
One of the many benefits of my work is that I get to go speak directly to the Stepford Undergraduates who arrive at college as eager and excited freshman and walk out cynical, brainwashed leftists. They embrace the multiculturalism, moral relativism and hatred of America that their Marxist and Socialist professors have instilled in them for years.
As a Democrat and a feminist, you would think it would be the women’s groups, or the feminist club, or the College Democrats that would be inviting me to speak. But of course not.
No, the young people supposedly keeping the flame for freedom of expression, new ideas, and obsessed with “diversity” are far too busy clamping down on the people who exhibit that pesky intellectual freedom let alone be expected to actually bring one of “them” (i.e., someone who dares to challenge them) to campus.
I should not have been surprised, but in my effort to be able to be heard on campuses it became the conservative wing of Americans politics that exhibited a true commitment to intellectual diversity and freedom of expression. The College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation, America’s largest campus outreach program for the conservative movement, have been the sponsors of my most recent speaking engagements—at Roger Williams College and at Mt Holyoke.
The bright lights out there on our campuses are indeed the conservative students who are truly committed to principles and values. Because of this, they are willing to face the risk, punishment, name-calling, and even threats to their personal safety because they dare to be different. They dare to stand up for what is right. They dare to be College Republicans.
My speaking experience at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island was classic. The College Republicans there, led by Jason Mattera, Jedediah Jones, and Monique Stuart had awakened the campus to real political and intellectual diversity with the publication of their conservative newspaper, The Hawk’s Right Eye. Prior to inviting me to campus, the club had been called a “hate group” by members of the administration, funds for their newspaper had been frozen, graffiti on the campus compared them to the Hitler Youth (of course) and at least one member has had to deal with threats to her personal safety.
All in all, not unusual experiences for campus conservatives.
There was the typical harassment by the campus police against students trying to promote my speech. In a coordinated effort to stop promotion of the event, two young men who were chalking a speech announcement on a walkway were stopped and interrogated by campus police. In a clever move, after being told by the police that they had orders to stop any activity of the College Republicans, the young men said they were with the Gay Pride group on campus. Only then were they allowed to continue.
While this demonizing of the club prior to my arrival was typical, it remains disturbing. At many of my speeches, in an effort to put the wholesale and thoughtless demonizing of campus conservatives into context, I ask students to do a simple word-switch in their heads. Every time they are inclined to say something negative about a conservative or Republican student, they should replace the word “conservative” and/or “Republican” with the word “Jew.”
My point is the intellectual and personal harassment conservative students and faculty face is beginning to mirror to oppression of Jewish students and academics in 1930’s Germany. Dehumanizing takes repetition and a mob mentality fostered by trusted leadership. It also requires individuals to stop thinking for themselves.
I exhort these same students to own why they think what they think. I’ve asked and most of them honestly admit they don’t know why conservatives are “bad” or if their “Hitler Youth” comparisons are true: They were simply told so by a professor they trusted. Ultimately, these students must face the fact that they have been personally betrayed by professors and other academics who don’t really care about them at all and have misled them on a whole host of issues – including probably everything political.
The event itself at Roger Williams University went well and was actually quite inspiring. I spoke for an hour or so, and then we opened it for questions. I also agreed to stay for as long as the students wanted. We finally left at midnight, 4-5 hours after we had begun.
One young woman shifted from being the Biggest Tammy-Hater and Angriest Student in the World to asking thoughtful, sincere questions. One young man at the end came up to me and said, “I was holding this sign outside at the beginning of your speech. I wanted you to see it and to tell you that I was wrong, and am ashamed for having done it. Thank you for being here.” The sign read “This Event Sucks.” I was moved close to tears by his sincerity and the realization that even with nonstop brainwashing, if young people are exposed to ideas that strike them as true and fair, they will hear us.
I also saw a familiar look in the faces of some of them. It was a look of realization that perhaps they have not been told the entire truth by adults they trusted. There was a glimpse of understanding that their favorite professor, or the president of the university, and even their own judgment about politics, needed to be questioned and challenged.
One question I was asked more than once was why in the world would the Republicans of all people on campus ask me (classical liberal, Democrat, feminist) to come speak. Many of the liberal students were truly perplexed. And that was their first lesson. I had the pleasure of explaining that the foundational commitment to freedom of expression and new ideas rests at the heart of the colleagues they had been condemning all along. That conservatives and conservative politics might actually be beneficial for women, blacks, and gays in this country.
Make no mistake, this is no longer about differences of political opinion. This is indeed about life and death, totalitarianism versus freedom, and intellectual freedom versus the imprisonment of the mind. It has become a fight for the hearts and souls of the generations to come. It is a fight classical liberals and conservatives dare not lose.
The hope of this change rests with the work of David Horowitz and his Students for Academic Freedom, the young Republicans and conservative Democrats on campuses everywhere who will not be intimidated into silence, and the Young America’s Foundation, which is committed to changing the catastrophic course designed by malevolent and destructive leftist academics. Support them wherever and whenever you can. Our future, literally, depends on it.