Lt. General Jerry Boykin retired from the U.S. Army with the distinction of having led all Special Forces units in the Army. Boykin had survived the jungles of Vietnam, Columbia and Panama, along with untold number of missions around the globe. Yet, in his retirement, he was temporarily relieved of his teaching duties as the Wheat Visiting Professorship in Leadership at Hampden-Sydney College, a small private men’s school in southwestern Virginia due to the complaints of a few gay activists over comments made about men using women’s restrooms.
Just about two weeks earlier and a few miles up the road, Virginia Tech, a public school, ran into trouble, when they attempted to disinvite Jason Riley, a black conservative from giving their semi-annual BB&T Distinguished Lecture.
The Wall Street Journal columnist, Riley, contended that the invitation withdrawal was due to faculty concerns about his book, “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.”
After exposure and a good dose of social media bashing, both institutions backed down. While these two instances of conservative thought being censored by the politically correct mobs were spiked, both Boykin and Riley were aided by having an extremely high profile and the ability to fight back.
However, the obvious question is how many low-profile conservative voices are silenced across academia either through overt actions or simply out of a desire by professors to not risk their jobs and livelihoods?
This past year, a “Men in Literature” course that had been taught at Springfield College in Massachusetts by Dr. Dennis Gouws was cancelled as creating a hostile environment for women. No student was compelled to take the popular course, and the college offers an English course entitled “Women and Literature” as well as various ethnic focused courses.
The “Men in Literature” course had been offered since 2005, and in 2010 achieved status of being part of the regular curriculum.
Peter Wood, the President of the National Association of Scholars, points out that Gouws, “never set out to be a gadfly against progressive dogma or a stalwart opponent of the ideological regime. He was, to the contrary, picked for the part by the regime itself. He had made his own adjustments to the contemporary preoccupation with ‘gender’ by devising an experimental course in 2005 titled ‘Men in Literature.’”
Yet, the heretofore, relatively unknown professor now finds this course of study under fire. Note, this isn’t a degree being offered on “Men in Literature,” but merely a single course among dozens that students choose to take to matriculate. Yet, the presence of a single offering at a single college that doesn’t fit precisely into the radical left’s narrative is so discomfiting that it must be squashed.
There can be no dissent. There can be no alternative opinions offered. The left can bear no challenge to their orthodoxy.
And the freedom of thought and expression gets nullified in the process. This isn’t by accident. The same ideological ilk that fought for gender and ethnic studies classes and subsequently gender and ethnic studies degrees in the past, know the power of controlling the information flow into the ripe young brains free to be fully on their own for the first time as they enter college. And they are determined to shield them from anything resembling cognitive debate.
The University has become the ultimate safe space to do anything except learn diverse world views. Instead it is designed to tear down the world view propagated through the family, church and pre-common core elementary and secondary educations, by flooding normally rebellious eighteen year old minds with counter-culture thought absent any reinforcement of the constructs that underlay their upbringing.
Lt. General Jerry Boykin and Jason Riley had national platforms to fight back and win their battles to be heard on campus, but for Professor Gouws and many others like him, there are no Fox News appearances to bolster public outrage. Instead they are left to toil under college administrations that at best tolerate and worse seek to end their work far from the spotlight.
What can be done?
Currently, the GOP controls the Governorship, State Senate and State House in thirty of the fifty states (note Nebraska is included in this even though it is unicameral).
Republican Governors working with the state legislatures in these states should make tearing down this academic wall of tyranny within their state university and college structures a top priority. The wailing from liberal academia will be heard on National Public Radio from coast to coast, and that is a good thing. By forcing the left to defend its academic strongholds, they will have to retrench from their wholesale onslaught on reason and planned indoctrination of the next generation.
College is not supposed to be a safe space. It is supposed to be a place where ideas challenge the mind, so the next generation can grow into and be worthy of our national heritage of free thought. Speech should not be feared, but embraced as the inevitable clash of intellects through which students learn how to discern by having their assumptions challenged.
It is time for Republican state officeholders to stand up for free thought in the university systems, before the liberal academia stamps it out, along with the flickering flame of free speech, forever.