As I write this on Thursday morning, I do so on a day that President Donald Trump is loosening up his right hand to sign what will be a first step against the intolerance of free speech on college campuses.
While we do not yet have the details, the new Executive Order will create the mandate to restrict federal funds from schools that do not allow free speech on campus. This is an important day for me personally, as this has been the primary mission of Turning Point USA.
Not too many opinion people are weighing in on this yet. It is kind of a difficult topic for them. Those in the mainstream media, an ideologically homogeneous group, need to thread the needle of wanting to appear to be in favor of free speech while arguing that the president requiring free speech is somehow dangerous. That isn’t easy, and that is why they have been mostly silent.
Don’t worry. They will figure it out soon, and they will find a way to come after the president.
An exception to the silence of analysts is an opinion piece published by CNN on March 18. In it, Suzanne Nossel and Jonathan Friedman of PEN America share their concerns about the upcoming order. The piece is not unreasonable in its tone, and it does fairly point out examples of how team left university officials and students are stifling free speech on campus.
But the writers do make one critical mistake, and it is the same one that is used dismissively by everyone from politicians, to university administrators, to media commentators. They write:
Certain terms, topics and theories are now deemed so offensive on racial, gender, religious or other grounds that for many the easiest answer is not to speak them at all, even if for purposes of scholarly analysis. Hardly a week goes by without a group on the left or right calling to silence those on campus with whom they disagree.
So, the contention is that this is a problem that all students face. Their piece continues to warn how the president’s Executive Order may have the effect of stifling free speech overall on every campus.
It just plain isn’t true. Anybody can find anything if they search long and hard enough for it. Just take a metal detector and spend a day at the beach sometime. But examples of any conservative students trying to silence free speech on campus are outlying data points, irrelevant anecdotes about isolated aberrant incidents.
The shutting down of free speech on campus is a systemic and institutionalized process that is controlled and managed by what we ironically label as “liberals.” Burn an American flag on campus or stand on a bench and decry the Constitution as racist, and you will be allowed to speak. Wear an American flag on your shirt or hand out copies of the Constitution, and you will be accused of triggering and sent off to the campus equivalent of the broom closet, called “Free Speech Zones,” in order to continue to express your thoughts.
The president made the promise to issue an Executive Order at CPAC this year, right after the violent attack on a Turning Point volunteer at UC Berkeley. Hayden Williams was punched in the face for the sin of passing out conservative materials and signing up members. The incident got almost no attention in the media other than in conservative-leaning outlets.
I ask you, rhetorically, if a student wearing a MAGA hat assaulted a student passing out “Save the World from Trump” fliers would that have received coverage?
Of course it would. You would know about it. Everyone would know about it. Do you know why you haven’t heard about it?
Because it doesn’t happen!
The intellectually vapid line of “both sides do it” is a great way to try to ignore reality and allow it to continue to your benefit. Defenders of institutionalized indoctrination on college campuses use the both-sides-do-it construct so that people will think it’s just one more unfortunate circumstance that you really can’t do anything about.
President Trump knows better. He knows what is taking place on college campuses is a one-way street directionally set toward intolerance. By signing his Executive Order he will let universities know that their wallet is in danger of being lightened. For an industry that loves to preach against capitalism, they sure do love their money. This will hopefully start to get their attention.
Unlike their students, if they don’t like it, they are certainly free to speak out.