JACOBIN MAGAZINE
2017

 

 

The Real Free-Speech Threat

 

 

There’s a lot of writing these days about the Left being oversensitive crybabies that can’t handle free speech. Students shutting down racists like Milo Yiannopoulos and Charles Murray at the University of California Berkeley and Middlebury in Vermont made headlines in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Fox News.

At the same time, liberals are also quick to (rightly) point their fingers at the Trump administration’s authoritarian tendencies — from threatening journalists with meritless libel suits to banning them from White House press conferences.

But liberal institutions have hardly been open to those who challenge established orthodoxies. While universities often decry protests by their own students, they’ve shown an uncanny openness to certain outside third parties influencing hiring decisions and classroom curricula.

During all the Milo campus riot talk, who remembered UC Berkeley’s suspension of a one-unit ethnic studies course on Palestine last semester? The student-instructor, twenty-two-year-old Paul Hadweh, had spent months preparing the course syllabus, going through all the right channels to get the course approved, only to find out — from a friend watching Israel Channel 10 — that his class was under scrutiny and Israeli government officials had “covertly” intervened. A few hours later he was informed by his faculty adviser that the course had been summarily suspended. Twenty-six students were left scampering to make up the unit weeks into the semester. Read more.