Last time, I reported on two university professors who were Fighting Back Against the Mob. They’re doing so in response to outrageous and, at least in the case of UCLA Professor Gordon Klein, apparently illegal canceling by the woke mob. Those two are standing strong against the tide of hate and dishonesty that is woke rhetoric.
And they’re not alone.
Attorney and commentator Stuart Taylor and former president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, Edward Yingling, report on a much-needed and potentially quite powerful response to woke intolerance. They announce the creation of a new organization, the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA). It’s long overdue. Consider just a few of the findings of a survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:
In a recent survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, more than 80% of students reported self-censoring their views at least some of the time, with 21% saying they censor themselves often. The survey, of more than 37,000 college students on 159 campuses, shows growing support among students for various forms of censorship, especially of conservative speakers, with 66% of students saying that shouting down speakers on campus may be justified. Other polls report similar results.
Beyond that survey, Taylor and Yingling add,
Tolerance for free speech among faculty appears to be marginally greater, but it is in decline; and left-tilted ideological litmus tests in faculty hiring have become common while moderate and conservative professors have become scarcer.
Hundreds of articles in numerous publications have reported on the harassment, suspension and even dismissal of faculty and students for expressing opinions, many quite reasonable, that offend woke activists. Meanwhile, university presidents often do nothing, even when their schools’ free-speech rules would seem to require action.
This is by now all too familiar, but the AFSA taps what is perhaps the most powerful resource of all for putting a stop to woke attacks on the constitutional, statutory and contractual rights of students and faculty that are so common on campus – alumni. After all,
These institutions constantly seek alumni involvement and contributions. Alumni have the ability and duty to demand that their schools maintain the reasons for which they were created.
Indeed they do. University presidents may be cowed by the woke mob, but let them see a significant drop in alumni contributions accompanied by letters explaining that intolerance for diverse points of view is the reason and I suspect they’ll see the light. It’s one of the remarkable aspects of the mob that it in fact has only the power those with actual power give it. Count on the fact that university presidents value income flow over political correctness.
I encourage AFSA to conduct a demonstration project: Identify a particularly egregious case of cancelation by the mob and send out an email blast to alumni of the institution in question urging them to protest the matter to the president and appropriate campus bureaucrats, and suggesting a curtailment of donations. If that doesn’t do the job, continue urging alumni to reduce funding and, at the end of the year, check the institution’s income flow. If contributions are down, claim victory and publish op-eds ballyhooing same. Send letters to the institution’s governing board inquiring why the president should remain employed under such circumstances.
One thing is important to keep in mind: such initiatives don’t even need to succeed in order to succeed. They only need to put fear into, say, the university president, of the loss of his/her job or even just closer oversight by the governing body of the school. The simple fact is that the reason these people bend to the mob is that there’s no downside to doing so. If they resist, the mob appears with its torches and pitchforks; if they bow, they don’t. But if there’s real pushback, if university presidents have to concern themselves not only with woke caterwauling, but with real financial consequences, they’ll soon come around. Even the prospect of the latter will often be enough for them to rediscover the virtues of a free and open campus.
And when this happens on one campus, others will take notice. Call it a “chilling effect” on woke power, but whatever the term, university authorities will quickly get the message that they could be next in the crosshairs of organized and angry alumni.
Amusingly, it was Karl Marx who advanced the theory that history proceeds as a dialectical process in which a certain phenomenon (thesis) tends to produce an oppositional response (antithesis) and the two produce a third (synthesis). That is what is going on. Funny that the woke left doesn’t notice.
If your alma mater has embraced woke-ism to the detriment of the institution, the students who attend and the professors who teach there, contact AFSA and find out what you can do to return that university to its true mission. U.S. colleges and universities will be better off and future generations will thank you.