An angry mob of protesters injured a professor after derailing an event at Middlebury College last week featuring American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray.
Murray, who is perhaps best known as the author of the controversial book The Bell Curve, was unable to speak at an event held at Middlebury College on Thursday. Murray is also a member of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a well-respected think tank dedicated “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate.” Other members include Arthur Brooks and Christina Hoff Summers.
A group of student protesters began reciting a prepared chant as soon as Murray took the stage.
The students were concerned with a portion of Murray’s writings that suggests that the relationship between race and IQ may be due partially to genetic factors. Students called him a white supremacist, despite his scholarship suggesting that East Asians have higher IQs on average than Caucasians.
Bill Burger, the college’s vice president for communications and marketing, claimed that Murray and Middlebury professor Allison Stanger were attacked by protesters as they left the facilities: “As Stanger, Murray and a college administrator left McCullough Student Center last evening following the event, they were ‘physically and violently confronted by a group of protestors.”
“The protestors then violently set upon the car, rocking it, pounding on it, jumping on and try to prevent it from leaving campus,” he claimed. “At one point a large traffic sign was thrown in front of the car. Public Safety officers were able, finally, to clear the way to allow the vehicle to leave campus.
“During this confrontation outside McCullough, one of the demonstrators pulled Prof. Stanger’s hair and twisted her neck,” Burger continued. “She was attended to at Porter Hospital later and (on Friday) is wearing a neck brace.”
An Associated Press report on the incident called the students who derailed the event “protesters,” which implies peaceful dissent. The report also cites the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which falsely brands Murray as a “white nationalist.” The SPLC has been widely discredited as a neutral source, including by the Associated Press in a 2016 article that highlighted how the SPLC targets conservative groups as “hate-groups” to discredit them over politics. Recently, the SPLC added Islamic reformists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz to their list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”
In a post on the American Enterprise Institute’s site following the chaos, Murray praised the Middlebury administration for their defense of freedom of expression on campus.
Much of the meaning of the Middlebury affair depends on what Middlebury does next. So far, Middlebury’s stance has been exemplary. The administration agreed to host the event. President Patton did not cancel it even after a major protest became inevitable. She appeared at the event, further signaling Middlebury’s commitment to academic freedom. The administration arranged an ingenious Plan B that enabled me to present my ideas and discuss them with Professor Stanger even though the crowd had prevented me from speaking in the lecture hall. I wish that every college in the country had the backbone and determination that Middlebury exhibited.
In a telling interview on Fox News, Princeton Professor Carolyn Rouse admitted to Tucker Carlson that she had only read portions of The Bell Curve, despite her coming on national television to dismiss Murray’s research as “racial pseudoscience.”
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about education and social justice for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org