Free Speech is Disappearing from American Campuses

If you want to understand the deplorable condition of free speech on college campuses today, you need look no further than what happened recently at George Washington University here in the nation’s capital. A recognized campus conservative group, Young America’s Foundation (full disclosure: I am on the board of directors), was planning to host a seminar, entitled “Islamo Fascist Awareness Week," which was to highlight the threat that radical Islam poses to the United States. Say what you will about the title, which was provocative, this is tame stuff compared to the anti-Bush, anti-American drumbeat of conferences and seminars that are held every day at GW and elsewhere.

In any case, a mysterious flyer soon appeared around campus proclaiming, “Hate Muslims: So Do We” that purported to be from the campus YAF group publicizing the seminar. An uproar against the YAF members ensued. GW Student Executive Association VP Brand Kroeger was quoted as saying that he would support the expulsion of students responsible for distributing the “heinous” posters. The GW president himself chimed in right on time with criticism of “hate” speech.

It turned out that the posters were NOT distributed by YAF, but rather by left-wing students, including a nationally known anti-war activist and an officer of the GW Progressive Student Union, all for the purpose of setting up the YAF students. So left-wing students tried to pin a “hate” crime on conservative students by distributing material insulting Muslim students to “expose” the conservative group.

Well, when it became known that the posters in question were distributed by the leftists, the administration went into hiding. The calls for expulsion ceased. No member of the administration has dared to speak on the subject, let alone hold the leftist students accountable for their actions.

Just another day at the office. Think back to the left-wing Duke students and professors who libeled the Duke lacrosse players and have yet to suffer any consequences for their slander. Or consider that Columbia University had no trouble inviting Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to its campus while barring the head of the the Minutemen. How many colleges have “speech codes” that purport to silence unpopular speakers, including conservatives? How many conservative professors in the social sciences are there on the average campus compared to leftists and liberals? Answer: About 20 to 1 in most places.

Before hard-pressed federal and state taxpayers are asked to dip into their pockets to fund even more expenditures for higher education, university presidents should be asked to analyze and report on the state of free speech at their institutions.

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