The totalitarian attitude on campus hit me in a very personal way on March 30 as I was sitting on an airplane at Reagan National Airport on my way to Albany, New York. I was informed that a campus debate I was scheduled to participate in later that day had been cancelled. I was told to get off the plane and go home.
I believe this is the first time on a college or university campus that a left-right debate has been cancelled because of objections to one side of the debate.
It appears the totalitarian left is so determined to crush the conservative point of view that it had to be suppressed even when a leftist was on the same panel.
My debate opponent, Jeff Cohen, the founder of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), was taken aback. It was as if the far-left censors on the campus of the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz didn’t think he could hold up his end of the debate.
The topic was media coverage of the presidential campaign. Jeff and I have participated in such debates many times in the past, always getting a good reception and generating many questions. The contracts had been signed. New Paltz cancelled the morning of the debate.
The student paper said the event was cancelled after a sociology professor who helps teach women’s studies had caused a controversy over my appearance. She apparently had Googled my name, turning up a denunciation of my views from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC reportedly said I had made “controversial statements in the past about Muslims, climate change and homosexuals,” and that I was “an unrepentant propagandist for extremist right-wing causes.”
I was not allowed to respond to the charges before the decision was made to prevent me from appearing.
Digging into the fiasco, the student paper said, “In a discussion that originated on the faculty email system and subsequently obtained by The New Paltz Oracle, Anne R. Roschelle, Ph.D., a sociology professor, voiced her objections to Kincaid’s involvement in the debate. However, Roschelle made clear to note that she did not seek to bar Kincaid from speaking.”
That was quite interesting. She had “voiced her objections” to my involvement in the debate but did not “seek to bar Kincaid from speaking.” Whatever the meaning of this double-talk, it appears that a faculty member had decided what students should be exposed to on campus.
She was quoted as saying that she was “not advocating he be uninvited or that people disrupt his talk.” But Roschelle said, “What I am suggesting is that for people who do go to his talk to ask critical questions and make your alternative voices heard. We are an open-minded campus.”
Yes, and that’s the purpose of a debate. A debate by definition is where different voices are heard.
It couldn’t be that she was concerned that different voices were not going to be heard. That was the whole purpose of the event. Her concern was that MY voice was going to be heard.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a conservative has been kept off campus. In this case, however, the event was a debate involving a left-wing media critic who happens to be a professor at Ithaca College. In other words, both sides were going to be represented. Still, the mere fact that I was going to be part of the debate was enough to get the event cancelled. I think this is unprecedented. It demonstrates the kind of atmosphere that exists at New Paltz.
This is the kind of “educational atmosphere” that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the socialist running for president, wants to subsidize with more taxpayer dollars.
This incident and others have convinced me that the old brick-and-mortar universities have run their course and need to be defunded. It’s time to replace them with true centers of learning that offer real academic freedom, and courses that teach marketable skills at a reduced cost. The kind of “political revolution” we need in this country is not of the Bernie Sanders variety. Rather, it’s a way forward that offers real learning through alternative educational institutions that provide online opportunities and career-advancement to students where they live and work.
The taxpayers who pay the bill for these Marxist re-education camps we call colleges and universities have to revolt against the socialism that rules higher education in America. Sanders wants to perpetuate that mind-set because he knows that, under the guidance of faculty from sociology, women’s and queer studies, students are being mind-controlled and groomed for jobs that don’t exist. Hence, they become more cannon-fodder for the revolution.
Perhaps the taxpayers who help fund New Paltz might want to know how such things happen in an atmosphere that is supposed to assure freedom of speech on campus. I certainly want to know.
Indeed, I am attempting to get to the bottom of the reasons for the cancellation of the event through a Freedom of Information request using a state law meant to assure transparency in state government and state-funded institutions. Let’s see if the university administration will follow the law and give me the names.
I want to determine who on the campus was part of the process to deny students the right to hear a left-right debate on coverage of the campaign.
New Paltz declares on its website: “Creativity permeates campus life at New Paltz. The learning atmosphere has an air of imaginative inquiry that bridges all academic endeavors. The faculty encourages students to question, experiment, and discover in ways that lead to innovative thinking.”
But not in this case.
The website also declares that a New Paltz education is “one that retains lifelong relevance through what is required to achieve it: broad and specific knowledge, exposure to differing perspectives, open-minded inquiry, and a spirit of inventiveness.”
But not in this case.
Parents who consider New Paltz for their students are being given a big dose of false advertising.
I informed University President Donald P. Christian in a letter:
“I was very disappointed for the lost opportunity to share my ideas with young college students. I had thought that a college campus was the perfect place for an exchange of ideas. I have had two of my sons go through college, and my youngest, who is turning 17, is on a tour of college campuses.
- “What should I tell him about New Paltz being open to different ideas and freedom of speech and expression?
- “Why should any student or parent consider New Paltz as an option for those who engage in free thinking, rational thought, and open debate and discussion?
- “Why has this happened at New Paltz, alone among many different colleges and universities?”
Later that day, after receiving my letter, the administration reversed itself, saying they wanted to reschedule and bring the debate to campus after all. Unfortunately, my schedule wouldn’t permit such an event until the fall. I look forward to going back, with adequate security and police protection.
By then, I should have the answers to why, in an unprecedented development, a debate was cancelled on a university campus.
What we know so far is that “diversity” on campus doesn’t apply to diversity in thought and opinion. These institutions of “higher education” are bankrupt financially and morally.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org