As universities in the United States are increasingly discriminating against conservatives and even cancelling invitations to speak, the highest levels of British learning extended invitations to me last week to speak at both Cambridge and Oxford.
Speaking engagements at Cambridge, Oxford, and one the most elite female high schools in the U.K. actually followed an invitation to address a joint group from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons in Parliament. Other speaking engagements there included such groups as the Federalist and Henry Jackson Societies.
After hearing of even Condoleezza Rice and other conservatives being dis-invited to speak on college campuses, I anticipated that chances were slim in the even more liberal United Kingdom of being allowed an audience. Yet, sure enough, they welcomed me with elegant grace.
That does not mean there weren’t some very pointed questions, which I welcomed, and lively debate, but they wanted to discuss and explore rather than persecute the one with whom they disagreed.
There was no question that people who extended invitations would hear protestations from people who had read statements taken out of context, distortions or misquotes attributed to me by media that seeks to silence those with whom they disagree. I learned of one specific objection.
Yet, all of the invitations for me to speak were very graciously honored and defended as appropriate by allowing different viewpoints. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the left in the U.S. felt the same way?
I was so pleasantly surprised to find intellectual liberals who wanted to collaborate on solutions to the world’s most pressing dilemmas. It was also a bit intriguing to be at Oxford’s ‘New College,’ which is called ‘New’ because it was established in the 1379 making it nearly a couple hundred years newer than the earliest teaching at Oxford.
Meeting and speaking at Oxford’s Christ Church College was also amazing where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed and the novel Alice in Wonderland was inspired. Perhaps the highest compliment I received came at Oxford when a professor there told me with a grin, “you almost persuade me to become a conservative.”
Sipping tea with a physics professor who informed me of recent data on “dark energy” while consuming hard biscuits with our tea was quite enjoyable. In turn, the senior professor inquired about political trends in the U.S. and enjoyed seeking the answers to questions where most U.S. liberals would never boldly nor sheepishly go.
It just seems that if educational institutions dating back almost a thousand years ago with some of the world’s smartest students can eagerly welcome a staunch U.S. conservative and have robust debate while remaining friendly, shouldn’t American schools which arose for the sake of tolerance be able to be tolerant as well?
Congressman Louie Gohmert is the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Prior to being elected to serve in Congress, Louie was elected to three terms as District Judge in Smith County, Texas. He also served as Chief Justice of Texas’ 12th Court of Appeals.