The Middlebury Paradox

National Association of Scholars

Peter Wood’s article was originally published in The Federalist​. We post an excerpt below; please read the entire article here.

There are clearly many liberals, as well as others further to the political left, who see the dangers posed by a radical movement that rejects the principles of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. One danger, in their eyes, is that the left’s near monopoly in higher education could be jeopardized if state legislatures started to take seriously the need the need to maintain fair-minded exchange of ideas on college campuses.

That movement has already begun in the form of model legislation put forward by Stanley Kurtz, James Manley, and Jonathan Butcher in connection with the Goldwater Institute. I’ve included some similar proposals to amend the Higher Education Act in the National Association of Scholar’s Freedom to Learn Amendments.

But liberals seem to be even more exercised by the direct danger to themselves and to all of higher education by a movement that avidly attacks the very basis of intellectual inquiry. The worry is sincere and, in many cases, eloquently expressed. But it is also a loose sail, flapping in the wind. Few of the worriers have proposed any practical solution. The University of Chicago Faculty Report on University Discipline for Disruptive Conduct comes closest. It at least provides a plan of action when protesters disrupt an event. It is, however, silent on the origins of those disruptions in an ideology that legitimizes the effort to silence opposing views.

Empty Seats by Benson Kua // CC BY-SA 2.0

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