Brandeis, Hirsi Ali, and the Echo Chamber Generation

 

Last week, I wrote, once again, about “disinvitation season” on campus, the time of year when students and faculty join together to demand some voices not be heard on their campuses.

Shortly after that, however, the biggest controversy this season erupted at Brandeis University when the university decided to revoke the honorary degree it was planning to give to feminist and atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. 

While much digital ink has been spilled on this controversy there are three important points that need to be emphasized in the case:

  1. This incident is just one episode in what’s becoming a “disinvitation season” trend on campuses.
  2. Brandeis University is named after one of the great heroes of freedom of speech in American jurisprudence, yet it has an abysmal track record when it comes to freedom of speech.
  3. Students are watching this incident and further learning how to think like censors.

I wrote about these points in more detail today over at The Huffington Post.  As I noted there:

My fear is that 30 years of campus speech codes and the cultivation of the sense among students that they have a “right not to be offended” have pushed students into an even more radical tendency: rather than being taught to beware groupthink and confirmation bias, students demand to be confirmed in their beliefs and not even have those speakers they sharply disagree with present on campus. This “expectation of confirmation” plays havoc with the very purpose of a university, and it’s a formula for turning today’s crop of our best and brightest into an echo-chamber generation.

There are 16 comments.

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  1. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I don’t think freedom of speech can survive in a low trust society.  Not when “free speech” means being endlessly and unavoidably trolled in real life.  I don’t actually believe anybody is trying to convince anybody of anything anymore.  Its just an endless cycle of incitement and harassment.  I don’t know why that is, probably because inflamming your own team is more effective.

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Like.

    • #2
  3. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    The first step to learning is admitting that you don’t already know.

    That’s why it’s hilarious that students at a university, of all places, demand not to hear anything that contradicts what they think they already know.

    • #3
  4. Colin B Lane Member
    Colin B Lane
    @ColinBLane

    When I first read 1984 some 34 years ago as a junior in college, I thought to myself, “Well, that was scary as hell, but thank God nothing like that could ever really happen in the U.S.”

    Little did I imagine then that it would be college students who would actually help usher in Orwell’s dystopic vision.  Their inability to think critically and logically, their often hostile unwillingness to even listen to an opinion they might disagree with, and their invention of totalitarian buzzwords such as “micro aggression” should make us all fearful for our future. 

    • #4
  5. greg@thefire.org Contributor
    greg@thefire.org
    @GregLukianoff

    KC Mulville:

    The first step to learning is admitting that you don’t already know.

    That’s why it’s hilarious that students at a university, of all places, demand not to hear anything that contradicts what they think they already know.

     Very well put. 

    • #5
  6. greg@thefire.org Contributor
    greg@thefire.org
    @GregLukianoff

    Guruforhire:Add Media

     I don’t actually believe anybody is trying to convince anybody of anything anymore. Its just an endless cycle of incitement and harassment. 

     
    I fear that, yet I keep on trying. 

    • #6
  7. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    My class at Brandeis (’65) has been one of the least giving of all to our alma mater. Alas, probably not because of principles, though after this I will not feel guilty when I refuse to donate.  I remember some classmates vowing never to give a dime  because of a controversy when the administration wanted to withdraw “parietal hours” (when members of the opposite sex could be in the dorm rooms with doors closed–and a towel on the knob as a signal to the room mate to keep out).

    Another cause of anger was that a class ahead of ours had had their tuition raised but were promised that it would not be raised for them again. But then it got raised a second time.  The classic line attributed to our president, Abram Sachar, was “I did not break a promise; I merely withdrew a pledge.”

    In my day, it was said that  Brandeis was able to attract some of our great professors because McCarthyism had made life difficult for them at Harvard, etc. How the worm turns. Brandeis can host the likes of Herbert Marcuse, but not a heroine like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    • #7
  8. Ontos Inactive
    Ontos
    @Ontos

    Why isn’t the Republican Party out there  shouting at every post about the Left’s War on Free Speech & Conscience.  Things like this have to be said over and over, and then they begin to sink in.  The GOP does none of that anymore.  They have been co-opted by consultants and smoothies who “handle” saccharine messaging–with the obvious result.  I am sick of the so-called feckless leaders of this party.

    • #8
  9. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative
    @

    The heart and soul of a liberal education is Socratic doubt.  On campus, the Left has replaced Socratic doubt with all manner of True Belief.   Where there is no genuine and humanizing doubt, the felt need for tolerance will invariably fade.

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    A Beleaguered Conservative:

    The heart and soul of a liberal education is Socratic doubt. On campus, the Left has replaced Socratic doubt with all manner of True Belief. Where there is no genuine and humanizing doubt, the felt need for tolerance will invariably fade.

    Another one for my “Favourite Quotes” file.

    • #10
  11. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Colin B Lane: Little did I imagine then that it would be college students who would actually help usher in Orwell’s dystopic vision.

    Note that in the novel, Orwell never states how the society came about. He never claims it was imposed from above.

    • #11
  12. greg@thefire.org Contributor
    greg@thefire.org
    @GregLukianoff

    Misthiocracy:

    Colin B Lane: Little did I imagine then that it would be college students who would actually help usher in Orwell’s dystopic vision.

    Note that in the novel, Orwell never states how the society came about. He never claims it was imposed from above.

     Chilling but excellent point.

    • #12

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