by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Bruce Gilley writes for the Martin Center about a disturbing new wave of censorship within the halls of higher education.
The nation’s cultural elites have been gripped by an intense wave of moral panic since the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol. That panic has found expression in higher education in renewed efforts to curtail the speech rights and academic freedoms of the already near-extinct members of the campus community who dissent against woke orthodoxies.
Attempts by activist faculty at Stanford University to curtail the independence of scholars at the Hoover Institution, for instance, reflect this new sense of empowerment. Clearly, the academic left has taken on a mission to eliminate all conservative and classical liberal critique, now described as “mob intimidation,” “harassment,” and “incitement.”
In a new report, titled The New Censorship in American Higher Education: Insights from Portland State University, the Oregon Association of Scholars, the state chapter of the National Association of Scholars, traces the emergence of this “New Censorship” at Portland State University, one of Oregon’s three major research universities.
What should concern Americans about New Censorship, the report argues, is its explicit attempt to redistribute basic freedoms of speech and publication on the basis of “anti-racist” credentials. (And it extends well beyond higher education.) Portland State President Dr. Stephen Percy refers to this policy shift approvingly as a “new status quo” in which fundamental liberties and one’s status before the law are determined by one’s professed zeal for anti-racist activism.
Similar rumblings have been heard in American higher education since the first wave of moral outrage took hold of the academy following the death of George Floyd in May 2020. This is evident, for instance, in the proposal by radical faculty at Princeton for a new commissariat to seek out and crush any research deemed “racist.”