Academic Freedom For Who?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Left-wing radicals throughout history have at least one thing in common: They like to claim that their own freedom of speech is endangered while endangering the first amendment rights of others.

For example, the screenwriters in Hollywood who claimed their constitutional rights were violated by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in the 1940s with questions about their membership in the Communist Party did not talk about the anticommunist references they had been keeping out of films. They did their level best to keep anti-communists out of the industry itself but were never called on it either, even by allegedly red-baiting Republicans on the committee such as Richard Nixon.

This practice has become so enshrined in universities that it is practically part of the student handbook. On those campuses that still have speech codes, it is in fact codified.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) does a fairly comprehensive job of tracking the latter. “FIRE found that while the percentage of public campuses that unconstitutionally restrict student speech dropped from 77 percent to 71 percent, the percentage of private campuses that similarly restrict freedom of speech has risen by 3 points from 67 to 70 percent,” the group reports.

“The modern university is essentially captured by the secular left,” David French of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) told the American Family Association (AFA) Journal. “If you look at the numbers, the imbalance is staggering.”

“At elite universities, more than nine out of ten professors are going to be self-identified leftists.” French previously worked at FIRE. “The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation,” according to the organization’s web site.

“Even in the big state universities where people tend to wrongly believe they have escaped the overwhelming trend toward political correctness and ideological uniformity, eight out of ten professors identify as leftists,” French told the AFA Journal. In such an environment, you will not know they are Christians by their tenure.

“The sad thing about Christian professors is that they are low in number and often embattled, feeling pressure to keep their views to themselves lest it hurt their chances for promotion,” French claimed. “I’ve had more than one conversation with young professors who only speak to me behind closed doors in hushed voices because they don’t want others to know who they really are.”

“The discrimination is not limited to professors, as Ruth Malhotra of Georgia Tech discovered,” Teddy James reported in the August 2010 AFA Journal article French was quoted in. “She took a stand for traditional marriage on her campus and quickly became the target of liberal activists.” At least that’s how the activists described themselves.

“Several students formed CLAM, Conservatives and Liberals Against Malhotra,” James reports. “They posted pictures of her with Nazi swastikas on her face and neck.

“She received several death threats, one stating she would have acid thrown on her face during graduation. She went to the police who told her to move out of her sorority house and into an off-campus apartment. She had police escorts anytime she had to be on campus.

“The university deemed what Malhotra said to be hate speech, but refused to address the death threats toward her. Only after litigation with the ADF did the school change anything.”

Fortunately, Malhotra survived and thrived. Full disclosure: we have known her for years and featured her as a speaker at one of our summer seminars.

I was even privileged to have shared the same dais with her in a debate at American University. Unfortunately, students such as Ruth Malhotra are harder and harder to find as college students face increasingly insurmountable obstacles to their academic freedom, from, of course, their colleges.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.