Allison Stanger was recently given a concussion courtesy of a rioting mob at Middlebury College. Stanger teaches at Middlebury, and just wrote an eye-opening piece on her experience for the New York Times. It doesn’t mess around; it’s entitled “Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion.”
Here’s a selection:
There is no excusing what happened at Middlebury, and those who prevented Charles Murray from speaking must be punished for violating college rules. But what the events at Middlebury made clear is that, regardless of political persuasion, Americans today are deeply susceptible to a renunciation of reason and celebration of ignorance. They know what they know without reading, discussing or engaging those who might disagree with them. People from both sides of the aisle reject calm logic, eager to embrace the alternative news that supports their prejudices.
I encourage you to read the whole essay by Stanger. She clearly is no arch-conservative, and some readers will disagree with some of the connections she makes. But her viewpoint is worthy of consideration and respect.
This is a remarkable moment for free speech, and free thought, in America. Many of us see that our society is fractured. But some are handling this fracturing in peaceable means, and others are rioting and injuring fellow citizens. What is particularly striking today is that the “progressive” mob is wounding its own. Allison Stanger likely agrees with much more of the perspective of the student protestors than she does with that of Murray. But the anti-free speech side is shutting down debate, lashing out in violence, and doing tremendous damage to their own cause. Stanger is their latest victim. There is no blaming the patriarchy here. A mob advancing weaponized leftist ideas has smashed one of their own.
You are blind if you do not see that this mob has hurt their cause tremendously. Fair-minded citizens need to push back. Robert P. George of Princeton University has just coauthored a statement with Cornel West on campus speech. How thankful I am for this bold move by George and West. All professors can sign. I encourage you to do this. One can hope that a moment of terrible injustice will become an inflection point.
I am reminded in this whole affair of how Irving Kristol, once a leftist, famously defined a neoconservative: “A liberal mugged by reality.” (Michael Novak, also once a leftist, had his own version: “A liberal with three teenagers.” Both are worthy summations.) We cannot speak for the course anyone’s heart and mind will travel, but when we look at the terrible treatment of Allison Stanger, we cannot help but wonder if the Middlebury Mob, acting in vengeance, has already done their part to help students, faculty members, and onlookers to cross the line of ideas. If this is a recruitment strategy for progressive ideas, it is a very, very bad one.
What is a leftist? If a supporter of free speech, they are a target for a real mugging, it appears–a mugging by their own side.
Image: Main Street of beautiful Middlebury, Vermont by Alan Levine.