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Letter: Wouldn't it be nice if conservatives were made welcome in the universities?

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"When facism comes to America," Huey Long once said, "It will arrive in the guise of anti-fascism." If the fascist movement in American has a headquarters, it is in higher education, where traditional liberties have been under assault for decades. Here, as always, authoritarianism is justified as a means to higher ends, in this case the wondrous cause of diversity. Because too much liberty is injurious to the cause, free speech, due process, religion and other constitutional rights must be sacrificed on behalf of higher goals. Public education has become an instrument for serving the agenda of the left.

The Foundation for Individuals Rights in Education says that 92 percent of campuses are still maintaining those infamous "free speech zones," which restrict the exercise of a basic constitutional right to tiny portions of the campuses. Students have gotten in trouble for distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution on campuses. Howling down or dis-inviting conservative speakers from campus is still commonplace. At the University of South Carolina, some students were recently interrogated for attending a rally in support of free speech. At Middlebury College, conservative author Charles Murray was physically assaulted when he tried to speak.

Due process is also commonly ignored. Men accused of rape are likely to be denied the right to question their accusers, present witnesses, have legal representation, or enjoy a presumption of innocence. The Obama administration, in its "Dear Colleague" letter, demanded that convictions be increased by lowering the burden of proof from a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to a 50.01 probability of guilt.

The Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures is being violated as well by campus cops who break into dorm rooms without advance notice or warrants to look for drugs.

Religion has also been under attack. Many campuses require that leaders of Christian clubs must be chosen from a variety of other religions in order to promote diversity.

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But on March 20, something shocking happened. South Dakota enacted a law that forbids the state's campuses from suppressing constitutional rights. Further, it directed the campuses to promote intellectual diversity and not just diversity of skin color. The president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni said that "an act of this scale concerning freedom and intellectual diversity is unprecedented, and sets a strong example for leadership in other states." The next day, the Trump administration announced that it will withhold funds from campuses that block free speech.

How did higher education ever descend to something as grotesque as squelching constitutional rights? It's because on the campuses there is no balance of power to prevent it. Unchallenged power corrupts. So, the left has rigged the campuses to serve its favorite fashions, which includes patronizing identity groups who are said to have histories of oppression. Liberty must be restricted lest it lead to offenses against ultra-sensitive minorities. At bottom, restrictions on freedom are inspired by academia's vanity and its ferocious desire to be seen as champions of the downtrodden.

Leftist administrators and faculty are pleased with their political monopoly and see no reason to hire people with non-conforming ideas. Nationwise, the ratio of left to right in sociology is 44 to 1 (though there may be a few conservatives who won't come out of the closet.) Nationally, every academic discipline is dominated by the left. In the social sciences and humanities, the closest thing to parity is in economics, where the left outnumbers the right be a ratio of only 4.5 to 1.

J.S. Mill's classic treatise "On Liberty" isn't read on the campuses anymore. One of Mill's key points is that debate benefits the majority as well as the minority because opposition keeps everyone intellectually alive. Even if the majority has the complete truth, without being challenged it will forget why its propositions are true and its ideas will go to rust.

Wouldn't it be nice if conservatives were made welcome in the universities? Think of how scholarships might flourish if teachers and students alike were assured that Big Brother was no longer watching them.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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