I was disinvited from a college debate on the campus of the State University of New York in New Paltz last March. Left-wing professors didn’t want to hear me debate a left-winger on media coverage of the elections. It was the first time in academic history, to my knowledge, that an actual debate was cancelled because of faculty objections to one side of the debate.
The ban proved to be embarrassing to the president of the university. Reminded in a letter from me that his campus website proclaims a devotion to free speech, he invited me back on October 20. Security was demanded and will be provided.
Before my rescheduled appearance, however, psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt was brought to SUNY New Paltz to discuss the controversy over the cancellation, in the context of whether “trigger warnings” should now be used to warn students of speech that may offend them. It looks like he got paid $10,000 for a couple hours’ work, to counsel students about the trauma from a debate that didn’t take place. Those assembled for his lecture then discussed whether a university can be for truth and social justice at the same time.
Any responsible conservative who has found himself on a “list” maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Council on American Islamic Relations knows that these groups target and try to destroy anybody who stands in the way of their achieving political power in this country. Their charges are picked up repeatedly by the media without any supporting or substantial evidence. They were used by SUNY New Paltz faculty members to create the controversy that forced the cancellation of my debate.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, a student journalist wrote a story about the Haidt lecture that included the allegations that I had “previously claimed that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that the LGBTQIA+ community is responsible for global warming.” Neither of these statements attributed to me were ever uttered by me. I didn’t even know what all those initials meant. After I brought these falsehoods to the attention of University President Donald P. Christian and other officers, a correction and apology were issued. Here is the correction:
“It has come to the attention of The Oracle that the Oct. 6 article entitled ‘NYU Professor Talks Trigger Warnings on Campus’ misattributed two claims to Cliff Kincaid, director of investigative journalism for Accuracy in Media. Mr. Kincaid has not claimed that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya nor that the LGBTQIA+ [community] was responsible for global warming.”
Here is what the student journalist attached at the end of the correction:
“Dear Mr. Kincaid,
I want to clarify a sentence in my article on Oct. 6, ‘NYU Professor Talks Trigger Warnings on Campus.’ There seems to be some misinterpretation on my part about past statements you have made, namely that, ‘President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that the LGBTQIA+ community is responsible for global warming.’
Misinterpreting a web page detailing your past statements on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, I incorrectly attributed those aforementioned claims to you and for that I apologize. It was not my intention to misrepresent you and there was certainly no intent behind it.
To be clear, I am at fault and take responsibility for my mistake. I take great pride in my work as an aspiring journalist and it has been a humbling experience to make a mistake of this degree. We will make the necessary corrections to the article and work to improve our fact-checking process for the future.
I look forward to your appearance on campus for the rescheduled debate with Steve Rendall on Oct. 20.
Jack O’Brien, Managing Editor,
The New Paltz Oracle”
By the way, the final two parts of the “LGBTQIA+ community” apparently mean “asexuality” and the “+” symbol “stands for all of the other sexualities, sexes, and genders that aren’t included in these few letters.”
Please recall that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was responsible for helping to create the controversy that resulted in the original decision to ban me from campus. Faculty members used information from the SPLC website to argue that I was a threat to the university. None of the faculty members who used their information and raised concerns about my status as a “hatemonger” ever bothered to contact me. I was notified of the cancellation as I was sitting on the tarmac at Reagan National Airport on the way to the event. I got off the plane, got my bags, and went home. I got paid anyway (considerably less than Professor Haidt for his counseling session).
You can see the malicious pattern. The student journalist at the New Paltz Oracle goes back to the same organization responsible for the cancellation of the event to provide an “update” on how I sparked another campus event on “trigger warnings.” And he gets the facts wrong again, since he never contacted me.
On another occasion, the New Paltz student paper published an article insisting that I should have been heard because I represented the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump. This was completely false as well. Nothing in the materials from our speaker’s bureau about this debate or my speech in particular suggests that I represent the Republican Party or Trump, and I do not and never have represented either. Ironically, my prepared speech for our scheduled March 30 debate included remarks very critical of Trump. Our debates have always been portrayed as a debate between right and left, conservative and liberal. That’s all.
With Gallup reporting that trust in the media is at an all-time low, one wonders if it can get any lower. The conclusion has to be that it can, it must, and it will. After all, look at the “education” and “fact-checking” methods being used by tomorrow’s journalists. They are non-existent. The student O’Brien is identified as being in his fourth-year of journalism.
I am participating in the October 20 debate on the assumption that the atmosphere will be civil and that the 1984 George Orwell totalitarian attitude of “Newspeak” that has emerged at SUNY New Paltz will not silence opposing voices. We shall see.
At SUNY New Paltz there is an Office of Compliance and Climate Control, the CCC. In 2013, the SUNY New Paltz LGBTQ Campus Climate Task Force issued a report that reveals the extent to which the CCC plans to control every aspect of the “campus climate” inside and outside of classrooms. The report even discusses “preferred names for food and beverage orders” and gender-neutral housing accommodations.
As Orwell wrote in 1984, “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
This “Climate Control” agency is combined with the administration bureaucracy to enforce “compliance” with federal administrative discrimination and diversity protocols, which Dr. Tina Trent calls in our new book, Marxist Madrassas, “a threat in a velvet glove.”
But that is not the worst of it. She points out that universities in America are already using the Climate Control-style initiatives to ban public speakers and monitor the content of what is taught in classrooms.
Regarding my case at New Paltz, she writes, “Kincaid’s mere presence was described as a threat to both student safety and ‘campus climate.’ In essence, Kincaid wasn’t merely banned from campus: he and his ideas were labeled as creating actual danger and harm. He was also blamed by the administration for the protests being fomented against him, thus tacitly endorsing the protesters’ threats. This is rewarding the mob.”
She adds, “The purported threat Kincaid was said to pose to ‘campus climate’ by his mere presence contains a warning for all of us: we are much further down the road of entirely banning mostly conservative ideas and speech, not only within our institutions of higher education but everywhere. This road will end with the suppression of all sorts of speech and ideas and ultimately people, not only in higher education but everywhere. And the source for this censorship lies in a hate crimes industry that is currently operating from a dual power base within the Federal Departments of Justice and Education.”
SUNY has a 35-page “Campus Guide for Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Plan” that says nothing about the crying need for intellectual diversity on the New Paltz campus. There is a passing reference from a SUNY Student Assembly noting how SUNY Buffalo State “supports diversity of thought,” in theory, but no follow-through on how this is to be done in practice on any campus in the system. This is just window dressing to mask the assault on free speech.
Yet the SUNY New Paltz website says: “The faculty encourages students to question, experiment, and discover in ways that lead to innovative thinking, fostering our creative environment of discovery.”
The website says a New Paltz education is one that involves “exposure to differing perspectives, open-minded inquiry, and a spirit of inventiveness.” Again, false.
Having Professor Haidt on campus to address the trauma caused by my scheduled appearance, and my re-scheduled appearance, means that the university was so embarrassed over its management of thought control on campus that it had to act to save face.
Dr. Michael Rectenwald, a Marxist professor in Global Liberal Studies at New York University, is opposed to speech and thought control on campus. He writes, “A singular orthodoxy has infiltrated the discursive parameters of U.S. and other universities and colleges. This orthodoxy now constitutes the ethical vocabulary of academia. Adopted from feminism, anti-racism, and LGBTQ theory and practice, the language, doctrines, and mechanisms of this orthodoxy now dominate academia’s policies, procedures and handbooks. The terminology has become the vernacular among the swelling ranks of administrators, especially the relatively new cohort of chief diversity officers, directors of diversity, associate provosts of diversity, assistant provosts of diversity, diversity consultants, and so on and so on. I refer not merely to the orthodoxy of ‘diversity,’ but in particular to ‘diversity’ initiatives as they are currently administered, using a particular set of policies, procedures, and mechanisms: trigger warnings, safe spaces, bias reporting, and the like.”
The professor tells me that “I completely reject the no-longer-so-implicit assumption that academia’s role, if not its only role as some see it, consists of liberal indoctrination—as if the main mission of the university were to produce good liberals. This is appalling beyond words. I teach people how to think, not what to think.”
He went on, “I recently came upon a status update of a professorial Facebook friend, which basically amounted to a celebratory announcement that by the end of the semester, all of her students had finally declared their commitment to ‘feminist Marxism’ as such. Of course, until I chimed in, all of the comments were congratulatory, as if she had done her job and done it well. I demurred, to say the least. Now mind this; I happen to be a Marxist myself. But I vehemently protested this professor’s obviously teleological model of teaching, as if the university classroom could or even should be conducted after the model of a communist indoctrination camp, and a sectarian one at that!!! Such ‘teaching’ represents an enormous swindle and even a criminal undertaking as such.”
Under attack by the mainstream media for his politically incorrect views, Trump recently told a group of college students: “In the past few decades, political correctness…has transformed our institutions of higher education from ones that had fostered spirited debate to a place of extreme censorship where students are silenced for the smallest of things.”
After laying out a program to control college costs, he said, “I will also make it a priority to protect students’ rights to free speech on campus. Do you want free speech? You’ll have it.”
These comments were greeted with a standing ovation from the millennial voters at the rally. They liked lowering costs, but wanted their free speech rights protected even more.
It is a troubling sign of the fundamental transformation of America that freedom of speech on campus hangs in the balance in 2016.
- The SUNY New Paltz debate takes place on Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. in the Student Union Multi-Purpose Room. SUNY New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561. The public is invited to attend. Contact Cathi Castillo at (845) 257-3288 or email@example.com
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org