For years, I have written about the violent, anti-free speech agenda of Antifa and its academic enablers. For that reason, a recent interview in the Seattle Times Pacific Lutheran University Professor of Nordic Studies Troy Storfjell caught my attention. While there are a rising number of faculty supporting the curtailment of free speech on campuses, most avoid openly participating in physical violence or supporting such violence. Not the case with Storjell who declaring that he is entirely comfortable with the use of violence to silence those who hold opposing views.
Storfjell belongs to a group that displays the Iron Front Symbol that has become a sign for violent “anti-fascism” protesters associated with Antifa. When a columnist raised past attacks on unarmed individuals and journalists like journalist Andy Ngo who was left with serious injuries. Storfjell’s response was chilling. He simply dismissed those with opposing views as “fascists” who deserve to be beaten down. When the columnist noted that Ngo suffered a brain hemorrhage in the attack, Storfjell declared “. . . I don’t have a problem with it. There are children dying of lack of medication in concentration camps in the U.S. If one fascist gets a milkshake thrown at him . . . And beaten up. I don’t have a problem with it.”
Academics have committed their lives to free thought and intellectual advancement. The support for violent attacks on those with opposing views is anathema to everything we hold dear as academicians.
I have previously discussed how Antifa and other college protesters are increasingly denouncing free speech and the foundations for liberal democracies. Some protesters reject classic liberalism and the belief in free speech as part of the oppression on campus. The movement threatens both academic freedom and free speech — a threat that is growing due to the failure of administrators and faculty to remain true to core academic principles. Dartmouth Professor Mark Bray, the author of a book entitled “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” is one of the chief enablers of these protesters. Bray speaks positively of the effort to supplant traditional views of free speech: “At the heart of the anti-fascist outlook is a rejection of the classical liberal phrase that says I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” He defines anti-fascists as “illiberal” who reject the notion that far right views deserve to “coexist” with opposing views.
Storfjell is one of those who believes that he can disregard free speech or even criminal laws by simply declaring someone, even a journalist, as supporting “fascism.” The problem is that Pacific Lutheran University likely has students who hold conservative or libertarian views that Storfjell would likely dismiss as “fascist.” He is supporting violent attacks on such people who refuse to be silent or yield to his own views.