Now we know. Middlebury to students: Shutting down speakers you don’t like is okay. We’ll cave. https://t.co/3LUQtJZigJ
— Charles Murray (@charlesmurray) May 4, 2017
The broader issue as I see it: Some students are gathering around a set of political and social doctrines in a pseudo-religious, pseudo-scientific, ideologically motivated fashion. Many of these doctrines share logical foundations which promote revolutionary change on the way towards radical liberation.
The truth and knowledge claims required to implement such changes are supposedly contained within a broad range of texts, as well as in common, collective beliefs which solidify membership and group identity. Action and activism further solidify group loyalty against all presumed injustice, oppression, and morally illegitimate authority (generally, carving up people and the world into groups and ‘-Isms’).
Race is a primary motivator here (the genuine injustice of American racial history and the personal experience of many activists), and can help explain the frenzied and rather ritualistic chanting of James Baldwin’s writings during Murray’s event. As though chanting in unison and earnestly seeking ‘solidarity’ will simply banish unwanted ideas.
Some Middlebury professors, of course, may be surprised (bemused, ashamed?) at the whirlwind being reaped, but in receiving other people’s money to interpret texts, influence young minds, and sit at faculty meetings much of the time, it’s probably not often the feedback is direct (some even took a stand on principle).
Other Middlebury professors, however, well, let’s just say this: While talking with them, don’t be surprised if they keep telling you to shut up and then maybe hit you in the head.
‘The sit-in corresponded with greater efforts from faculty members to seek information from administrators regarding the disciplinary proceedings. Laurie Essig, associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, Linus Owens, associate professor of sociology and Sujata Moorti, professor of gender, sexuality and feminist studies, were among a group of faculty members who reached out to the administration. Initially, they were hoping for more information from the meeting to better understand the disciplinary process and help students who are facing hearings.’
Furthermore, as previously and often posted:
“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.’
‘Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. ‘
‘Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. ‘
And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.”
-John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty: Chapter II-Of The Liberty Of Thought And Discussion’
See the previous post.The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Crowd-Charles Murray At Middlebury College