Well, “Free Speech Week” (actually only four days: Sept. 24-27) is coming to the University of California at Berkeley, during which the campus will hear from a number of speakers whom the Regressive Left deems offensive and lacking any rights to speak or be heard. Here’s the schedule as given by the student paper, The Daily Californian:
Sept. 24: “Feminism Awareness Day”
- Miss Elaine
- Lucian Wintrich
- Lisa DePasquale
- Chadwick Moore
- Milo Yiannopoulos
Sept. 25: “Zuck 2020”
- Heather Mac Donald
- Monica Crowley
- Professor Jordan Peterson
- James Damore
Sept. 26: “Islamic Peace and Tolerance Day”
- Michael Malice
- Raheem Kassam
- Katie Hopkins
- Erik Prince
- Pamela Geller
- David Horowitz
- Milo Yiannopoulos
Sept. 27: “Mario Savio is Dead”
- Mike Cernovich
- Charles Murray
- Ariana Rowlands
- Stelion Onufrei
- Alex Marlow
- Milo Yiannopoulos
- Steve Bannon
- Ann Coulter
Well, there’s not a progressive in the lot, and nobody can claim that the viewpoints are is balanced here (Free Speech Week was organized by right-wingers: Milo Yiannopoulos and The Berkeley Patriot, a conservative campus organization). Still, there are a few people on the list I’d go to see (e.g., Heather Mac Donald and perhaps Jordan Peterson, simply because I haven’t had any time to learn what the man is about), but all of them deserve to be heard because they’ve been invited.
Those who oppose the viewpoints of the speakers can, of course, counter with their own speech, write editorials, ask questions during Q&A sessions, or mount peaceful protests, but if ever an event was attractive to thugs like Antifa and their violence-prone minions, this one is it. Expect a lot of cops, a lot of angry people, and perhaps some clashes.
What I didn’t expect was that a lot of faculty would call for a boycott of classes on those four days, as well a complete closure of campus. But that’s what another article in The Daily Californian tells us:
In a letter addressed to the UC Berkeley campus and the Berkeley community, 132 campus faculty members from various departments have called for a complete boycott of classes and campus activities during “Free Speech Week,” which will be held on campus from Sept. 24-27.
The letter was co-written by seven faculty members, including campus associate teaching professor of African American studies Michael Cohen. [JAC: Cohen is white.] It calls upon faculty to take three steps: cancel classes and tell students to stay home; close buildings and departments and allow staff to stay home; and not penalize students who are afraid of coming to campus. The letter was also signed by 56 individuals who aren’t part of the UC Berkeley faculty.
“This is a clear threat to public higher education,” Cohen said. “People are coming to humiliate others and incite violence. … The boycott is a refusal to allow this to happen on our campus.”
According to Cohen, most of the students in his African American Studies 27AC class are students of color. Cohen said he believed that for him to ask his students to be on campus during Free Speech Week was unethical and discriminatory.
. . . “We’re not afraid of Milo, Ann (Coulter) or Bannon’s words. We have a deep anxiety over the violence that their followers bring in response,” Cohen said. “Chancellor Christ’s idea that we can have these people on campus is a fantasy and a dangerous one.”
I’m not aware that any of the speakers listed above have deliberately incited violence, but I suspect what violence they do incite will be enacted by Leftists who want to shut the event down. Is that what Cohen is afraid of? And how is asking his students to simply be on campus to attend classes “unethical and discriminatory”? Are these students so tender of psyche that they can’t even walk onto a campus where there will be people speaking at other places—and probably in the evening when classes aren’t held?
What you really want to see is the list of who signed the letter, which you can find on the letter page. I didn’t count the signatories (faculty and graduate students), but did look at their names and departments.
What’s most interesting are those departmental affiliations. Nearly every signer is from the humanities: gender studies, film studies, history of art, rhetoric, film and media, ethnic studies, English, African American studies, theater and dance performance, comparative literature, and so on. The only people even close to being scientists are one faculty member and one graduate student in anthropology, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and someone of unspecified rank from the Department of Public Health and Medical Anthropology. That’s a total of four people not in the humanities, or 3%.
Why do you suppose that is? Where are the biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, and so on? Indeed, there’s not even anyone there from philosophy!
I suppose you could say that the scientists are just too busy in their labs, or are apolitical. But the latter isn’t supported by the big turnout in April for the explicitly political Science March, ineffective as that may have been.
No, I think it’s because the departments represented by the signatories have been polluted by postmodernism, which in effect denies that there’s any truth to be found and, by extension, rejects debate, reason, and argument as a way to effect progress. They simply espouse an Accepted Dogma that can’t be questioned. (It’s curious, though, that postmodernists themselves actually advance positions and arguments, incoherent as they may be, as a way to advance their own ideas.) Instead of arguing, their tactic is to simply shut things down.
I may be wrong here, and am surely missing some of the nuance. But I don’t think the absence of scientists signing this letter comes from their apathy about politics. And shame on the Berkeley faculty who signed this letter, as they want to impede the students’ education in two ways: by closing campus and canceling classes during “Free Speech Week”, and by urging the students not to attend “offensive” talks.