by WorldTribune Staff, April 21, 2017
In an April 12 editorial, students at Wellesley College advocated “hostility” to silence the free speech rights of conservatives.
Students at the all-female college wrote that “hostility may be warranted” against people who are “given the resources to learn” yet “refuse to adapt their beliefs.”
“If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others,” the students wrote in the April 12 editorial in The Wellesley News, “then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions.”
The editorial was condemned by conservatives and liberals alike, according to an April 20 report by The Washington Times.
“It’s almost exactly the same as the Comintern in the Soviet Union: ‘We’re the freest country in the world. You can say whatever you want, as long as it agrees with the party.’ Now instead of the party, we have the consensus of Wellesley students,” said Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars.
Wood told the Times that the ideas expressed in the editorial echo those of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci and German-American philosopher Herbert Marcuse, whose ideas greatly influenced the students of the New Left in the 1960s.
Wood said the editorial “may be the first time in which the student newspaper at a highly respected liberal arts college has found its way toward endorsing what amounts to a Gramscian oppression of freedom.”
The Wellesley editorial invoked the Founding Fathers to support a narrow reading of the First Amendment.
“The Founding Fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government,” the Wellesley students wrote. “The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.”
Wood said campus radicals are “dead ignorant” of the intellectual traditions into which they have been assimilated. He compared students today unfavorably with their 1960s counterparts, who at least “had the virtue of being educated in the things they rejected.”
If the ideas of today’s campus radicals gain widespread acceptance, Wood said, it’s difficult to envision the long-term survival of a self-governing republic.
“It’s very hard to see if we have a self-governing republic if a substantial portion of the electorate were to become people who reject on principle the pursuit of truth, the intellectual openness that is a prerequisite of public debate on important issues,” he said. “Those are things that cut against the very foundations of the American republic.”