Colleges Call for Cop Killings

Do radical professors encourage violence? That’s the question some conservative commentators are asking in the wake of the vicious assassinations of two New York City police officers. As I argue in my upcoming book about educational conservatism, this sort of conservative worry has a long history. It goes much farther back than the campus radicalism of the 1960s.

Available soon: the more things change...

Available soon: the more things change…

At National Review Online, for instance, Katherine Timpf shares a story from Brandeis University. At that prestigious school just outside of Boston, student Daniel Mael has published violent tweets from fellow student Khadijah Lynch.

Mael blasted Lynch for advocating violence against the government, and Brandeis for supporting her. According to Mael, Lynch had tweeted that she had “no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today.” Earlier, according to Mael, Lynch had written, “I am in riot mode. F*** this f****** country.”

Instead of being punished for such incendiary language, Mael noted, Brandeis had made Lynch an official campus student officer, responsible for advising younger students. She had been a featured speaker at university events and, according to Mael, remained an undergraduate student representative of her academic department.

Is the university to blame for encouraging racial violence?

Timpf is not the only conservative pundit to ask the question. At Minding the Campus, Peter Wood blasts college culture for nurturing violent extremism. Today’s leftist-riddled faculties and administrations, Wood charges, encourage and condone wild-eyed radicalism among students.

Students and faculty, Wood writes, have been implicated in recent anti-police violence in New York City. But that’s not all. On the bitterly divided campus of the University of Virginia, the administration has turned a blind eye to student violence against innocent fraternity members.

Wood gives several examples of graduate students and faculty who have encouraged racial violence. Does this implicate universities? As he concluded,

the links don’t have to be guessed at. They are there to be seen.  Some of the connections are in the form of forceful declarations. . . . Some of the connections are in the form of heedless enthusiasm from individuals who have no sense of where this goes.

Wood’s indictment goes beyond the murders of New York policemen. At the University of Virginia, Wood writes, violence against innocent fraternity members has been winked at by the administration.

After the debacle of the Rolling Stone article falsely accusing fraternity members of a horrific sexual assault, a group of UVA students attacked the fraternity house. They were not punished, even though their identities were well known, according to Wood. Wood writes,

faced with the real crime of serious vandalism against a fraternity that had been falsely accused, and having the opportunity at hand to charge the culprits, President Sullivan [of UVA] decided to take no action.

Virginia is not alone, Wood argues. At other schools, a certain sort of student violence is condoned or even encouraged by faculty and administration who sympathize with student attitudes. The radical likes of Ward Churchill and Bill Ayers, Wood implies, are only the most famous cases of red professors guiding student malfeasance.

Wood argues that this campus radicalism has been a problem “Since the 1960s.” But in reality both campus radicalism and conservative denunciations have a much longer history. In some cases, conservative denunciations can seem eerily eternal.

For example, Wood calls out a doctoral student by name at Teachers College Columbia. Aaron Samuel Breslow, Wood writes, has been an active supporter of violent resistance. In 1938, it was Teachers College doctoral student William Gellerman who attracted conservative ire. Back then, Gellerman published a denunciation of American Legion activism. The Legion, Gellerman accused, represented nothing more than

an expression of entrenched business and military interests which attempt to hide their true purposes under democratic guise.

Legion leader Daniel Doherty accused Teachers College of coddling this sort of inflammatory leftist claptrap. Doherty asked an audience at Columbia University,

Why not rid this institution of such baleful influences? The name of Columbia is besmirched from time to time when preachments containing un-American doctrines emanate from those who identify themselves with this institution. . . . Do you like having it called ‘the big red university?’

As I argue in my upcoming book, this sort of anti-higher-ed accusation was a standard part of conservative activism long before the 1960s. Indeed, its roots can be clearly seen in the 1920s.

In the 1930s, the question was clear: Should universities purge their leftist faculty? The same question echoes throughout conservative punditry today, with an inflammatory twist:

Are universities morally culpable in the assassination of police officers?


Happy Thanksgiving: Our Culture-War Holiday

Ah, Thanksgiving…when families gather to eat birds, watch football, and shout at each other. The Thanksgiving tradition of fighting over issues such as gay rights, abortion, taxes, and school prayer has been hallowed by generations of angry get-togethers. After all, when you put a bunch of people around a table, related only by genetics, and feed them too much tryptophan and wine, culture-war fireworks are bound to happen. Today we’ll share some of the punditry about Thanksgiving culture-war battles we’ve gathered from minutes of browsing the interwebs.

I Disagree with You, but I Respect your Commitment to your Position!

I Disagree with You, but I Respect your Commitment to your Position!

1.) Progressives Use Thanksgiving to Convert Conservatives:

At National Review Online, Katherine Timpf cocks a snook at “ridiculous” progressive suggestions for fixing conservative family members. Progressives, Timpf warns, are out to get conservatives this year. Some progressives threaten to turn the Macy’s parade into a feminist diatribe. Others will blather on about the fact that many Americans don’t celebrate Christmas. Some might seize upon the progressive missionary opportunities of the occasion, buttonholing conservative relatives on the issue of climate change, then following up with an email from the Union of Concerned Scientists. If conservative evangelical or “Tea-Party” relatives try to belittle gay marriage or Obamacare, some progressives advise their minions to take conservatives down with prepared statements from the government or the book of Leviticus. And, of course, just to make sure everyone suffers from indigestion, there is at least one progressive pundit out there advising folks to use Thanksgiving to laud the Common Core.

2.) How to Win a Thanksgiving Argument with Conservative Relatives:

At Policy.mic, Gregory Krieg offers a progressive how-to guide for culture-war arguments. Your conservative “bloviating cousin,” Krieg warns, will certainly bring up some culture-war issues. Krieg offers ways to put conservatives in their places on issues such as the Ferguson riots, Obamacare, Obama’s immigration plans, Bill Cosby’s alleged serial rapes, legalizing marijuana, and more. In each case, we’re told, there are factual, reasonable rebuttals to the sorts of “unreasonable, knee-jerk opinions” conservative relatives will be spouting.

3.) How to Publicly Shame your Conservative Uncle:

From an Iowan progressive, we see a few tips on ways to beat your conservative uncle in holiday arguments. It’s important, progressive Iowan Trish Nelson warns, not to “appear too thoughtful—conservatives may confuse this for weakness.” After pounding your conservative relative with piles of facts to explode his ill-considered myths, Nelson promises,

your conservative Uncle will be roasting in his own myths and half truths, so forgive him if he’s a bit thrown off. Take your time and be patient, let him fully cook, and patiently explain the error of his ways.

4.) Again with the “Crazy Right-Wing” Uncle!

I don’t know why uncles are the repository for conservatism this year, but from the LA Times Joel Silberman offers progressive advice on handling a conservative uncle. Don’t fall for the temptation to be polite, Silberman suggests. It is a “patriotic” act to pick fights with your conservative relatives at Thanksgiving. Why? Because these days we don’t often get a chance to engage with people from the ‘other side’ of culture war issues. [Editor’s Note: Unless, of course, we read and comment in the pages of ILYBYGTH!] To be fair, Silberman is not advising the sort of knock-down, drag-out, drumstick-wielding family kerfuffle that I remember so fondly from my childhood. Instead, he suggests that everyone guide their discussion with “respect and know when to stop, and remember that relationships are more important than righteousness.”

Good advice, and a good place to stop. But just like every Thanksgiving fighter ever, I can’t resist getting in one last word. Instead of preparing arguments to win Thanksgiving showdowns, what if we progressives all spent time learning the best arguments our conservative relatives might make? Certainly nothing is less productive in culture-war battles than sitting back smugly and assuming our mastery of “facts” will soon bring our “myth”-laden opponents to their knees.

Rather, why not take an ILYBYGTH approach? Why not do some homework to learn why intelligent, informed conservatives might hold the positions they hold? Why not assume that people of good will might disagree sincerely on abortion, Obamacare, homosexual rights, evolution, and even the Common Core?

After all, the way to quiet a jerkface loudmouth uncle is not to publicly shame him. Rather, it might be more productive if we all studied the best arguments our culture-war opponents might make. Instead of asking: How can I trounce that argument? What if we asked: Why might someone believe that? Or, most important, what if we asked: How can we enjoy all of our blessings without screaming at each other?