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Want To Be Radical? Invite A Conservative To Your College

The perverted habit of glorifying people like Mumia Abu-Jamal has been part of tedious campus “radicalism” for the past 45 years.

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The perverted habit of glorifying people like Mumia Abu-Jamal has been part of tedious campus “radicalism” for the past 45 years. Still, I can’t get too worked up over the fact that a bunch of twits at Goddard College invited a murderer to their school. For one, these sorts of incidents help me compile a list of schools for my kids to avoid.

What is interesting, though, is how academics and administrators continue to rationalize moronic behavior:

“As a reflection of Goddard’s individualized and transformational educational model,” Goddard College Interim President Bob Kenny explained, “…choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.”

Oh, where to begin? For starters, college conformists who fumble around for ideas that offend conservatives are neither radical nor critical thinkers. The thing is, if these graduates truly had the capacity or ability to engage in worthwhile dialogue, they would have invited an orthodox theologian or a libertarian economist to their school. Someone to challenge dogma rather than confirm their puerile worldview. Surely President Kenny understands this. If they really wanted to be radical, they might invite Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights advocate and liberal, who wasn’t fit to receive an honorary degree according to the open-minded students at Brandeis University.

Second, in the United States there are very few institutional barriers to open debate. What we do as a society, generally speaking, is self-regulate. Goddard students could have invited Holocaust deniers or 9/11 Truthers and learned much from them, no doubt. No one stops them. But out here, we generally debate ideas that matter, or ideas that are grounded in reality, or ones that are intellectually stimulating, or maybe ones that just entertain us. And nowhere is free speech in more peril than on campuses. The lack of ideological diversity on campus is well documented. You don’t have to look further than commencement speakers. Earlier this year, Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight looked at commencement speakers at the top 30 universities and the top 30 liberal arts colleges rated by U.S. News and World Report for 2013 and 2014. He couldn’t find a single “clearly aligned Republican political figure who spoke at any of these schools in the past two years.”

In the United States you can, as the University of New Mexico has this week, launch something called “Sex Week,” which includes agenda items and “workshops” like “How to be a Gentleman and Still Get Laid,” “Negotiating Successful Threesomes,” and “BJs and Beyond” with only mild complaints. But one can imagine the censorship frenzy that would erupt if a school launched “Morality Week” with seminars like “The Value of Life: From the moment of conception on” or the “The Moral Miracle of Carbon-based Fuels.” Because that would be really radical.

Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter.