CNN’s Fareed Zakaria offered a blistering criticism of the rise of political intolerance and anti-intellectualism on college campuses in a commencement address at Bucknell University on Sunday.
Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, gave the commencement address at Bucknell University on Sunday. He used his platform to promote the value of a liberal arts education and to condemn the close-mindedness and righteousness of campus leftists and to suggest that maybe an affirmative action program for conservative and libertarians in faculty hiring would help promote “intellectual diversity.”
“The entire purpose of a liberal arts education was to prepare you to exercise those skills of citizenship and public wisdom that would allow you to live as free men and women. And I worry about it because this is at the heart of the western tradition. It has what made the west unique and special for so many years – that ability to preserve, protect, and defend liberty,” Zakaria began.
“And at the heart of that idea of liberty was the liberty to think, speak, believe, act, but perhaps above all, to speak. In that sense, the liberty of thought, freedom of speech, strikes me as under some considerable strain in the United States from all kinds of sources. But one source that is very important is on college campuses. You all have heard about and read about the various cases when people have been disinvited, have been invited and then booed or shunned or not allowed to complete their talks – the protests that have taken place,” Fakaria continued.
“These strike me as fundamentally illiberal, if not un-American. The whole purpose of the liberal tradition, the whole purpose of the liberal arts has been to hear people out, to listen to opposing views,” he added.
“Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘When we protect freedom of thought we are protecting freedom for the thought that we hate.’ This is very important,” he continued.” Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, is not freedom for people we like, for warm fuzzy ideas that you find comfortable. It is for ideas that you find offensive.”
Fakaria also quoted Voltaire and John Stuart Mill in his address before condemning seff-righteous leftists who he claims often consider themselves too “morally superior,” too “pure” to engage with those with whom they disagree.
“It is a real problem to have this silencing of conservative voices,” he claimed. “Michael Roth, the president of Wesleyan, points out that at this point you perhaps need an affirmative action program for conservatives to just be able to hear what they are saying. I doubt very much that conservatives would like that idea, but I think the spirit is one that is entirely right. We want to celebrate every kind of diversity these days, besides intellectual diversity.”
“It is the greatest danger, I think, you will face in your life – this ability to close yourself in this kind of bubble where you don’t consider the possibility that you’re wrong,” he finished.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org