All hell broke loose at student protest — and that’s not OK
March 5, 2017,
(CNN)Charles Murray came to the campus of Middlebury College (where I’ve taught for more than 30 years) on Thursday, and his appearance provoked protests that went beyond anything seen here since the 1960s.
All hell broke loose, as hundreds of students turned their backs on Murray, a political scientist with controversial views, and began to chant: “Who is the enemy? White supremacy!” and “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away!” Unable to deliver his talk, the speaker was spirited to another location, where he engaged in a discussion moderated by a member of the government department.
On their way to a waiting car, Murray and the professor escorting him were confronted by protesters. Pushing and shoving quickly degenerated into outright violence, and the professor who moderated the event, Allison Stanger, was injured
and taken to a hospital. (She is a good friend of mine, and is, thankfully, OK.)
I spend most of my weekdays in conversation with students, and I know they’re upset by the election of a bigoted man to the White House, someone who consistently derided Mexicans (among others) during his run for the presidency. That he is a self-confessed serial assaulter of women
remains a point of agitation for many, even if he insists his account of this behavior was just locker-room talk. His bullying tactics with anyone who opposes him or his ideas have rattled students, who see him as the antithesis of what people in the “academic village” consider appropriate in presidential behavior.
At Middlebury, like elsewhere on campuses, many students are extremely conscious of assaults to the environment, and — to them — Trump represents a huge threat, someone who can undo years of progress.
You get the idea. They have a lot to upset them.
But I was nonetheless startled by their rude behavior, their refusal even to hear Charles Murray speak.
One can perhaps excuse the students on grounds of immaturity. But that’s not good enough. They must learn to listen, learn how to object in a proper, well-reasoned way to arguments that seem, after consideration, wrong, even repugnant.
It is especially important in the Trump era that we don’t allow bullying tactics to color the tone of discussions. There are ways to talk about important things and appropriate ways to protest. And some forms of protest only provoke thoughtless reactions and bad feelings.
Students, and their elders as well, must not lose sight of these distinctions.
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/04/opinions/charles-murray-protest-went-too-far-parini/index.html