The Difficult Task To ‘Dewoke’ American Universities

A professor has claimed that nothing short of a political and cultural transformation will solve the difficult task of dewoking American universities and suggested measures to be followed.

The Difficult Task To ‘Dewoke’ American Universities 1

Professor Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School has suggested measures (pdf below) that universities should be obliged to adopt in order to avoid federal lawsuits and the loss of government funding in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. The list consists of,

  • Guaranteeing that speakers appear on campus under the same costs and conditions, regardless of their views (or opposition to their views);
  • Committing to disciplinary action of students or faculty who block classes, lectures, or speeches by violent acts or threats of violence;
  • Committing to the expulsion or termination of students or faculty who physically assault speakers or others seeking to exercise free speech or the right to peaceful assembly;
  • Committing to disciplinary action of students or faculty who block classes, lectures, or speeches through disruptive conduct inside classrooms, halls or other spaces reserved for such presentations;
  • Enforcing a presumption that the exercise of free speech outside of the school (including statements on social media) for faculty or students is generally not a matter for school sanctions or termination;
  • Committing to due process of students and faculty who are disciplined for exercising free speech rights, including the right to discovery of patterns of bias or inconsistent treatment in other controversies;
  • Barring restrictive “free speech zones” and other exclusionary zones for free expression (other than rules barring demonstrations, disruptions, or exhibits in classrooms, halls, or other spaces used for lectures, presentations, and events);
  • Barring student governments or organizations from sanctioning or censuring fellow students for their exercise of free speech without a clear and narrowly tailored standard as well as the approval of a university body;
  • Barring faculty from sanctioning, censoring, or retaliating against students for their political, social, or religious statements or values (subject to protected exceptions for religious-based institutions);
  • And barring faculty from requiring that students adhere to, adopt, or endorse political, social, or religious positions as a condition for any class, program, or benefit (subject to protected exceptions for religious-based institutions). 

Having spent 40 years at the academy, I would be the last to argue that what is euphemistically referred to as “higher education” has become outrageously intolerant. While professors join campus agitators in instigating violence against politically incorrect speakers, universities relentlessly suppress resistance to woke agendas. When I was a guest speaker at Hamilton College in November 2017, I was the target of such assaults. Campus protesters attacked me during my tumultuous visit, and both the faculty assembly and the college president joined the troublemakers. They falsely accused me of saying things in my lectures due to their irrationality.

But I don’t think Professor Turley’s suggested changes would much improve the situation we both dislike. Nothing short of the entire replacement of politically aware teachers and those in the government who are supporting the coup would fix this issue. Turley refers to enraged ideologues and professional agitators, and it is impossible to believe that they will stop acting out just because the rules are different. The academic left doesn’t adhere to these principles and will vehemently oppose any attempt to enforce compliance with what they would denounce as restrictions on their professional conduct that are racist, sexist, and homophobic.

The issue we have is significantly worse than that of American “reeducators” who attempted to “denazify” German universities after World War II, albeit it is no longer solely a concern in humanities departments. Prior to Hitler’s rise to power, the majority of German university professors voted for the Weimar Constitution-supporting parties but were not fervent Nazis. Others, like Karl Jaspers and Hans-Georg Gadamer, were permitted to stay on for varying lengths of time even though they were not sympathetic to the Third Reich, provided they were certified as Aryans. Some professors eventually joined the new order to advance (like German jurist and political philosopher Carl Schmitt).

However, compared to German universities that “collaborated” with Hitler’s dictatorship, the hardened ideological zeal that currently characterizes American academia is far harder to regulate. Many academic radicals believe in the totalitarian philosophy they vehemently espouse, even though some may just be going along for the ride. The government and accreditation organizations that the radicalized administrators consult are also not in a position to “awoke” American colleges, and they are not planning to change what is for them a comfortable environment.

This is not purely a word of despair. We can at least explore for solutions to alleviate the impacts of a serious societal sickness, even though Professor Turley rightly laments that nothing short of a political and cultural transformation will solve the issue. I support any efforts, including Turley’s, to make institutions a little more tolerant, and if my buddy Amy Wax gets fired for not being sufficiently politically correct, I hope she sues the University of Pennsylvania Law School like a badass. But unless we first free them from the cultural left, I wouldn’t bet on the academic institutions changing till then.

Read the measures given below:


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