Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle writes that academia has “turned downright hostile to conservatism” in a column that was published on Tuesday.
McArdle begins by dismissing the notion that hostility towards conservatism on campus is a myth conjured up by radio hosts and conservative media outlets looking to push a narrative. She provides a passage from a Washington Post columnist who argued that conservative media is to blame for the rise in the belief that academia is biased against conservatives.
“Conservative media focused its attention on the idea of ‘safe spaces’ on college campuses,” consevativecolumnist Phillip Bump wrote, “ places where students would be sheltered from controversial or upsetting information or viewpoints. This idea quickly spread into a broader critique of left-wing culture, but anecdotal examples from individual universities, such as objections to scheduled speakers and warnings in classrooms, became a focal point.”
McArdle argues that American institutions of high education have undergone a shift. Now, she argues, conservative and libertarian students and faculty are subjected to what she labels as active “hostility.”
It started with students pressing for speakers to be disinvited from graduation speeches — sometimes liberals, but often conservatives. Then angry minorities were allowed to shut down conservative speeches with increasingly raucous protests that eventually turned to violence. And when violence occurred, schools seemed noticeably uninterested in identifying or punishing the people who committed it.
She brings up an important point: that administrators, who are likely left-leaning themselves, see raucous and sometimes violent protesters as “overexuberant” idealists who have simply gone too far in pursuit of the common good. Because of this, administrators will likely be too lenient in doling out punishment who students who cross the line in protest efforts.
McArdle compares the polite reception Bernie Sanders received at the right-leaning Liberty University to the violence and chaos that met conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley.
“Conservatives have seen one disturbing incident after another in a short period of time,” she wrote. “Whose fault is that? Not conservative media. Blame the rioters and the universities that allow them — and the smartphones that have made it easy to capture the misbehavior in vivid, viral videos.”
She finishes by arguing that it is in the best interest of universities to be fair to conservative faculty and students. If they continue on their current path, they may risk opening up gaping holes in their budgets and enrollments.
If universities brand themselves as explicitly left-wing institutions that make no effort to be fair to conservative views … if they allow left-wing groups to appoint themselves as the thought police of what is theoretically a shared space … then they will open up gaping holes in their budgets and their enrollments, and the left’s fiefdom will fall to the enemy. It would behoove them to seek a binding peace now, one that offers both sides some living room. That could reverse the tanking public support for universities.
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