We are in the midst of campus irrationality unseen since the 1960s.
It is reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution, when student Red Guards made false and ridiculous accusations against their professors, and the profs felt compelled to confess crimes they did not commit in order to protect themselves from worse evils. Think of hapless Yale professor Nicholas Christakis who, after standing up for free speech, later confessed to “insensitivity” to students who “felt” hurt by a “climate of racism.” This on a university dedicated to rooting out racism from every nook and cranny.
Now the crybullies have come after Carol Swain, professor of politics at Vanderbilt University. Dr Swain, who is African-American, has committed the crimes of criticizing Islam and gay marriage. Her punishment has been an online student petition calling for her suspension until she can be reeducated in “diversity training” to increase her “cultural awareness.”The Chancellor of Vanderbilt has made matters worse by saying publicly that he “appreciates” the concerns of the students advancing their petition, that Swain’s opinions are not his own or those of the University, and he is “saddened anytime I hear that any member of our community—in this case, as highlighted in the petition, our LGBTQIA community and our Muslim students, faculty and staff—feel excluded from our Vanderbilt community.”
Finally, he wrote, this concern felt by students against Dr Swain is an “important matter.”
What can we do to help Dr Swain and do our little bit to combat these attacks on free speech?
Sign a petition to support Dr Swain. It has reached 2500 signees, and they are hoping for 5000.
Final word: Carol Swain is a dear friend. I know her to be a woman of integrity and courage. Those are rare qualities in today’s academy.