Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hitting the Bricks on Broadway

Yesterday was a powerful day in the ongoing deconstruction of the experiment on free speech at Columbia University. The lively and combative Rachele Lipsky joined us for a turn at the Morningside Heights barricade, and combative she was, giving an impassioned rationale for a Michele Malkin interview on why the invitation to the Iranian nutcase had nothing to do with free speech.

There were around two thousand folks gathered in front of the university yesterday, and the basic theme on display was outrage at Columbia's insensitivity in the granting of a prestigious platform to a Holocaust denier and American-soldier killing leader of a terrorist state. Those who try to use the free speech banner in cases like these are generally some of the same people who are absolutely intolerant of any voicing of conservative views on the campus-as was the case with the rescinding of Larry Summers speech invitation at the University of California.

What is also important to emphasize is that the vaunted free speech domain on campus is very much a chimera-at Columbia as well as elsewhere around the country. Too many academic departments appear to be dedicated to a particular political ideology, and alternative viewpoints are almost non-existent. And when folks raise a fuss about all of this, the fragile academics-unused to being challenged-scream "McCarthyism."

So let's open up our university campuses to real diversity of opinion. If we don't they will continue to become what Bruce Bawer called the "one idea state," a place were opinions range narrowly from left to far left. In this process, as ideological lock-step metastasizes, the idea that no beliefs should be treated as sacred is lost in the enveloping orthodoxy.