A reader writes about a controversy at his alma mater “that likely would have made it to the national headlines and possibly created a Charlottesville-level event if wind of it had gotten to the wrong people.” I have, at his request, taken out the name of the organization and the college:
There’s a debate society on campus called the [redacted]; it’s one of the oldest student organizations in the United States and has produced quite a few notable figures in American history. For a long time (probably 100+ years – the building where they meet was built in 1830), the society had a portrait of Robert E. Lee hanging in the hall. This fall, the membership voted to remove the portrait and spent almost half the semester arguing about whether to replace it with a portrait of some New York transgender activist. I’m no longer affiliated with the society, being out of college, but a friend of mine is one of the few conservatives there and related to me what went on.
Essentially, the society split into two factions – liberals and conservatives who were skeptical of identity politics, and the hard-left contingent. The situation was so bad with the portrait debate that the campus chief of police talked about the possibility of needing to position police outside the hall in the debate over Lee for fear of protests getting out of hand.
During the debates over the transgender portraits, members who expressed skepticism over the idea were hissed while speaking, while the hard-left faction got away with making outrageous statements (such as claiming that not recognizing a person’s gender of choice is morally worse than owning a person as a chattel slave) with no protest at all. My friend there had several liberal members privately admit to him that conservative voices had become the most oppressed at the society due to the vocal and aggressive hard-left contingent.
All this was particularly chilling because this society has consistently produced (for over 200 years) prominent American thought-leaders and politicians. Its members are by far the best speakers on campus, and a sizable number (from when I was there, at least) are interested in going into public policy. That group is the face of American politics in 20 years; and truthfully, I shiver at the thought of some of the psychopaths there holding public office one day. It’s coming.
I’m telling you, conservative and liberal students and professors had better start putting aside their differences and standing up for free speech and open expression now, before it’s too late.
If you think this is no big deal, that it’s just confined to campuses, you’re blinding yourself to reality. For one, this particular college is not an elite liberal arts college, but a major state university. For another, as the reader who sent this anecdote says, where do you think the leaders of tomorrow come from?