University students and teachers are becoming increasingly ‘hard-line’ and intolerant, shouting down anyone who does not conform to their world view, a British professor has said.
Antony Glees, an expert in counter-terrorism who teaches at the University of Buckingham, said that left-wing staff and students have become more militant over the past 10 years, with chilling effects on free speech.
Professor Glees said he was heckled at recent panel discussion on the government’s “Prevent” anti-terror strategy after he spoke up in favour of the scheme. He said there was a “feeling of menace” after was “cynically jeered at” and branded a racist by students and even other lecturers.
He also said he was “mindlessly heckled” and branded a “white, male, colonialist, Zionist and racist” by one student after he criticised protesters who stopped the Israeli ambassador speaking at universities.
“I was glad to get out of there alive,” he said. “I was taken aback by the atmosphere… these were closed minds.
“I don’t expect people to share my point of view but I expect people to be open-minded, to engage in debate. Not to be attacked.”
The Daily Mail says that Professor Glees blamed the increasing militancy on the “internet age” allowing “self-absorption”.
“It may be because of the tough economic times we’ve been through. There may be a very dangerous hopelessness. In the internet age, people have become self-absorbed. They live in their own worlds. They can’t see how their own world connects with anybody else’s.”
Students at Cardiff and Oxford Universities recently tried to ban feminist Germaine Greer from speaking on campus as she denies that post-op transsexual women can be genuinely female.
When she spoke at the Oxford Union debating society, Lucy Delaney, student union vice-president for women, said: “We should condemn the Oxford Union’s decision to invite Greer and Hitchens. These speakers’ ideas are not “contentious” – they are violent.
“Greer’s life-long tirade against transgender people and her refusal to acknowledge their identities as valid contributes to their oppression and marginalisation.”
The Oxford Union hit back, however, saying: “The Oxford Union exists to uphold freedom of speech, inviting people of all opinions.”