And begins to come to terms with the fact that there will be no serious consequences.
I didn’t see it happen, but someone grabbed Allison’s hair just as someone else shoved her from another direction, damaging muscles, tendons, and fascia in her neck. I was stumbling because of the shoving. If it hadn’t been for Allison and Bill keeping hold of me and the security guards pulling people off me, I would have been pushed to the ground. That much is sure. What would have happened after that I don’t know, but I do recall thinking that being on the ground was a really bad idea, and I should try really hard to avoid that. Unlike Allison, I wasn’t actually hurt at all.
Absent an adequate disciplinary response, I fear that the Middlebury episode could become an inflection point. In the twenty-three years since The Bell Curve was published, I have had considerable experience with campus protests. Until last Thursday, all of the ones involving me have been as carefully scripted as kabuki: The college administration meets with the organizers of the protest and ground rules are agreed upon. The protesters have so many minutes to do such and such. It is agreed that after the allotted time, they will leave or desist. These negotiated agreements have always worked. At least a couple of dozen times, I have been able to give my lecture to an attentive (or at least quiet) audience despite an organized protest.
If this becomes the new normal, the number of colleges willing to let themselves in for an experience like Middlebury’s will plunge to near zero. Academia is already largely sequestered in an ideological bubble, but at least it’s translucent. That bubble will become opaque.
Middlebury tried to negotiate such an agreement with the protesters, but, for the first time in my experience, the protesters would not accept any time limits. If this becomes the new normal, the number of colleges willing to let themselves in for an experience like Middlebury’s will plunge to near zero. Academia is already largely sequestered in an ideological bubble, but at least it’s translucent. That bubble will become opaque.
Worse yet, the intellectual thugs will take over many campuses.
Indeed. This item in Inside Higher Ed makes clear that most profs, push comes to shove, are happy to continue to train Orwell’s Outer Party, even if it puts some of them in the hospital. Someone’s gotta do it, right?
In a way, one can’t blame the profs and ‘crats. The real future of intellectual inquiry today is online. Middlebury is just another pricey cocoon for the larvae of the Outer Party, who are in training to supervise a growing useless class in the age of automation. It is evident from their comments that the students fear ideas new to them (=hate). They have not been trained to think logically or argue reasonably, and they have no use for the life of the mind. Nor should they, given their likely futures.
The universities are obsolete as carriers of civilization. Murray’s mistake was failing to recognize that.
It is roughly similar to what is happening to traditional mainstream media and Hollywood. It is not a conspiracy, just a confluence of events, interests, and personalities.
Added: It is ironic – Victor Davis Hanson would call it Nemesis – that Middlebury prof thugs would not lower themselves to read Murray’s magisterial Coming Apart – a book whose findings on the decline of blue collar white America they could have heeded and taken to heart. They might have helped Clinton squeak through if they had.
See also: Hollywood could come back from the doldrums by staging boffo protests