Wellesley

Wellesley students advocate hostility on campuses to silence conservative ‘hate speech’

Conservatives have come to expect that they might be protested, ridiculed and disinvited when they venture to speak on college campuses, but the penalty for telling students something they disagree with has taken a more violent turn. Buttressed by an ideology that views “hate speech” as violence and its suppression as self-defense, students increasingly are resorting to the destruction of property and assault to keep conservative speakers quiet. Students at Wellesley College made the intellectual case for using force to stifle free speech in an editorial last week, arguing that “hostility may be warranted” against people who are “given the resources to learn” yet “refuse to adapt their beliefs.” “If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others,” the students wrote in the April 12 editorial in The Wellesley News, “then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions.” The editorial was shared widely over social media — so much so that the student newspaper’s website crashed on April 14 because of the volume of traffic — and was condemned by conservatives and liberals alike. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said the ideas expressed in the editorial are not new. He traces their lineage to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci and German-American philosopher Herbert Marcuse, whose ideas greatly influenced the students of the New Left in the 1960s. But Mr. Wood said the editorial “may be the first time in which the student newspaper at a highly respected liberal arts college has found its way toward endorsing what amounts to a Gramscian oppression of freedom.” “It’s almost exactly the same as the Comintern in the Soviet Union: ‘We’re the freest country in the world. You can say whatever you want, as long as it agrees with the party.’ Now instead of the party, we have the consensus of Wellesley students,” he said. The editorial did not elaborate on what “hostility” entails, but students at other schools clearly see nothing wrong with responding to unpopular speech with violence. Officials at the University of California at Berkeley this week canceled an April 27 speech by conservative pundit Ann Coulter, citing safety concerns. The campus erupted into flames and rioting in February when students sought to prevent an appearance by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor for Breitbart News. After Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger offered to moderate a talk last month with social scientist Charles Murray, she was assaulted by a mob of students protesting the event and had to wear a neck brace after sustaining whiplash and a concussion. Midway through her talk at Claremont McKenna College this month, prominent Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald had to be escorted off campus when police determined that protesters had become too unruly.Conservatives have come to expect that they might be protested, ridiculed and disinvited when they venture to speak on college campuses, but the penalty for telling students something they disagree with has taken a more violent turn. Buttressed by an ideology that views “hate speech” as violence and its suppression as self-defense, students increasingly are resorting to the destruction of property and assault to keep conservative speakers quiet. Students at Wellesley College made the intellectual case for using force to stifle free speech in an editorial last week, arguing that “hostility may be warranted” against people who are “given the resources to learn” yet “refuse to adapt their beliefs.” “If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others,” the students wrote in the April 12 editorial in The Wellesley News, “then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions.” The editorial was shared widely over social media — so much so that the student newspaper’s website crashed on April 14 because of the volume of traffic — and was condemned by conservatives and liberals alike. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said the ideas expressed in the editorial are not new. He traces their lineage to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci and German-American philosopher Herbert Marcuse, whose ideas greatly influenced the students of the New Left in the 1960s. But Mr. Wood said the editorial “may be the first time in which the student newspaper at a highly respected liberal arts college has found its way toward endorsing what amounts to a Gramscian oppression of freedom.” “It’s almost exactly the same as the Comintern in the Soviet Union: ‘We’re the freest country in the world. You can say whatever you want, as long as it agrees with the party.’ Now instead of the party, we have the consensus of Wellesley students,” he said. The editorial did not elaborate on what “hostility” entails, but students at other schools clearly see nothing wrong with responding to unpopular speech with violence. Officials at the University of California at Berkeley this week canceled an April 27 speech by conservative pundit Ann Coulter, citing safety concerns. The campus erupted into flames and rioting in February when students sought to prevent an appearance by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor for Breitbart News. After Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger offered to moderate a talk last month with social scientist Charles Murray, she was assaulted by a mob of students protesting the event and had to wear a neck brace after sustaining whiplash and a concussion. Midway through her talk at Claremont McKenna College this month, prominent Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald had to be escorted off campus when police determined that protesters had become too unruly.