Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York often mentioned as an alternative to Hillary Clinton as a Democratic presidential candidate, doesn’t want pro-lifers, Second Amendment advocates, or believers in traditional sexual morality in his state. Here is what he said on the radio:
“Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” Only “moderate Republicans have a place in this state.”
Michael Gerson points out that this illustrates a familiar tactic the left has been using: Don’t argue about the issues with people you disagree with. Present them as unworthy of being members of “our” society.
The governor of New York is not only putting a damper on conservative tourism to see “The Book of Mormon” or “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, he also is displaying one of the worst tendencies of modern liberalism. Cuomo does not deign to argue with New Yorkers who oppose abortion, support a maximalist interpretation of the Second Amendment or defend the position on gay marriage held by Barack Obama when he was first elected president. These extreme views, according to Cuomo, are fundamentally illiberal and foreign to the values of his state. Such positions are not to be engaged with and refuted; they are to be marginalized.
We are accustomed to this approach within the gates of certain colleges and universities that have vague, open-ended speech codes intended to stigmatize certain viewpoints. This is often taken by ideologues as implicit permission to shout down differing opinions. The power to define the boundaries of acceptable discourse is the power to intimidate.
Academic liberals tend to regard universities as “our place,” in which others may stay as long as they behave. Now Cuomo has applied this attitude to the whole of the Empire State. From a provost, this is a violation of academic freedom. From a government official, it is an attack on genuine pluralism.