Monday, October 20, 2008

Speaking At A University Campus

If you think free speech, the free flow of ideas, and tolerance are all the rage on American university campuses, then you haven't been paying attention.

For a conservative, the hazards of speaking on a college campus are more extensive than you might think. Once the security guards are in place – as they inevitably must be – the risk of getting pied or physically attacked or having one’s speech shut down by raucous protesters is actually a lesser problem than others one regularly encounters at these events.

Far greater is the problem presented by the generally hostile environment a conservative normally encounters on any campus. This includes destruction of flyers advertising one’s event, failure of the campus newspaper to publicize it and failure of professors to recommend or even require student attendance as they regularly do for radical speakers.

I have very little experience as a university student, but I do recall that the worst professor I ever had, and one of the worst humans I've ever dealt with, offered extra credit if we'd attend a talk by liar Rigoberta Menchu--and the class involved had nothing to do with writing, with the Maya in Guatemala, or with Latin American history or politics. I don't imagine many professors offer extra credit if their students go to a talk by David Horowitz or Mike Adams.


Wesley Fryer said...


Good grief, I think you're going to far in calling Rigoberta Menchu a liar. I read the article you linked to, and it is good to know background on criticism she took for integrating the testimony of others into her book-- but I think it would be more accurate as well as appropriate to reference that situation differently. Your comment seems to suggest her life work as an advocate for Guatemala's indigenous people can be summarized in the statement "she was a liar."

I definitely think the poor in Guatemala are a group that have far less voice on the world stage than many others, and their story deserves to be heard. Your comment seems to suggest you didn't get anything out of the talk by Rigoberta and the very idea of hearing her speak was distasteful to you. I think we most often grow when we hear views which challenge us. I certainly would value the opportunity to hear any former Nobel Peace Prize winner speak. I did hear Oscar Arias speak in Mexico in 1993. I had to make a comment because your tone seems quite spiteful in referencing Rigoberta Menchu and her life work, and from what I know of her and the plight of the Guatemalan poor I don't think that attitude is respectful or fitting given the sacrifices she's made in her life on behalf of others as well as her accomplishments.

Darren said...

She *made up* a story, called it her autobiography, and got a Nobel Prize out of it. "Fake but accurate" way work for some on the left but it won't work for me.

I did *not* go to her talk.

allen (in Michigan) said...

I'm just curious Wesley but why do you think Menchu had to lie, leaving aside the question of justification? Wasn't the truth persuasive enough?

Anonymous said...

As a conservative college student, I have no choice but to keep silent...if I want to be treated the same way as "everyone else." Professors (at the University of Illinois it so happens) assume that all students are liberal. They give that speech saying how they welcome different viewpoints, but they will attack you and make you feel small.

I'm an aspiring Social Studies teacher and my curriculum instruction Professor tells us it is our "duty" to tell our students our political beliefs. There is not a week that goes by that our "open-minded" Professor tells us how great Obama is and how stupid people are for thinking otherwise. Does that sound like they are willing to listen to other viewpoints? Hardly.

As it is, most speakers here are Liberal. John Edwards was supposed to speak this semester here's his reason for canceling: “I have decided to avoid any public engagements until after the election in November. Nothing is more important than electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I don't want my appearance at these events to be a distraction from the important issues of the election, or from the important purpose of these meetings.” I somehow highly doubt that was the reason (hmm...affair?). I was fortunate enough to see Ben Stein last year, but that's about it.

Darren said...

As an example of contrast, in my undergraduate years I heard Robert Bork speak (for a law class), Edward Teller (for a science class--and I sat right across the table from him and asked him a question), Henry Kissenger, and Jimmy Carter. And just a few years ago, probably in the name of "diversity", the English Department at West Point invited a cannibal to speak.

Yes, those service academies sure do promote groupthink!