UC Berkeley Professor Harley Shaiken probably did not expect to be denounced as a tool of the racist establishment when he came to class recently. After all, he was simply giving a midterm exam when protesters appeared to demand that he checked his “privilege” and cancel his exam due to the stress that it was causing for students. Instead, the students demanded that he assign a “take-home essay with significant time to prepare.” The scene was truly Felliniesque but whatever humor might be found in the moment was lost by the fact that this is not an isolated occurrence on our campuses, as we have previously discussed.
I recently wrote how Antifa and other college protesters are increasingly denouncing free speech and the foundations for liberal democracies. That troubling trend was evident last week with a protest at William & Mary College in Virginia when protesters from Black Lives Matter stopped a discussion with Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. Protesters screamed “Liberalism is white supremacy!” the protesters shouted, and “ACLU, you protect Hitler too!” It was an all-too-common sight and universities have done little to address students who believe that they have a right to prevent others from hearing opposing views.
Scott Fitzgerald once said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” If so, Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania is a certifiable genius. However, in this case, Murphy’s two opposing views have cost him his seat in Congress. Murphy, who has run on a pro-life platform in securing eight terms in Congress, has struggled to explain emails where he asked his mistress to get an abortion. He has now announced his retirement from Congress to “take personal time.” The story is credited to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
We previously discussed the controversies swirling around Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher when he tweeted in 2016 that “all I want for Christmas is white genocide.” Now he is again in the news with tweets that blame the Las Vegas massacre on “Trumpism” and “white victimization.” There is still no confirmation of any motivation of Stephen Paddock but that does not appear to be relevant to Ciccariello-Maher. It is part of a torrent of comments using the massacre to amplify political or social views. Recently, Pat Robertson blamed the massacre on disrespect for Trump and the flag in society.
We have previously discussed protests against literature and philosophy courses due to their reliance on white male authors from ancient Greece to the Enlightenment. The latest such protest is occurring at Reed College where students called “Reedies Against Racism” are protesting a required humanities class that explores founding works from ancient Greece and Rome. Requiring freshman to read such works is being denounced as “really harmful.” I have long been an advocate of the core curriculum and Western Civilization works (a love for these works that began as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago which helped establish the core curriculum or great works model).
We have previously discussed Antifa and its violent anti-free speech philosophy. The latest violent clashes occurred at Berkeley where middle school teacher and Antifa leader Yvonne Felarca, 47, was arrested for battery and resisting arrest for fighting in Berkeley’s much maligned “empathy tent.”