Trump Tackles College Censorship

Family Research Council
March 21, 2019
by Tony Perkins 

Going to college is tough for any teenager. But for conservatives, it can be downright dangerous. These days, parents are sending their kids off to six-figure war zones, where even moderate speakers need armies of protection — if they’re allowed to speak at all. Christians brave enough to talk about their views are stigmatized if they’re lucky, and physically attacked if they’re not. We’ve wiped campuses clean of so many words, ideas, and values that an entire generation is leaving college completely unprepared for the cruel world from which higher education is “sparing” them.

Like a lot of parents, Donald Trump is fed up. College campuses are so toxically liberal today that conservatives have gotten everything from death threats to docked grades. We’ve watched Christians like Isabella Chow lose her student government sponsorship. Even a simple act like recruiting for a college club is an excuse to throw punches. That’s not education — it’s state-sponsored hazing. And this administration has decided to do something about it.

Today, the president had a warning for liberal incubators like Berkeley: shut down free speech and the government will shut down your federal funding. Under a new executive order, the penalties for schools censoring students will be, in Trump’s words “very costly.” “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” the president tweeted. So far, no one has had the nerve to hit higher education where it hurts. But then, not everyone is President Trump.

Charlie Kirk, who heads the group Hayden Williams was attacked for promoting, thinks it’s about time someone stepped in and stopped the First Amendment’s death spiral on college campuses. But how, he wonders, will the liberal media take it? After all, they’re “an ideologically homogeneous group, need to thread the needle of wanting to appear to be in favor of free speech while arguing that the president requiring free speech is somehow dangerous. That isn’t easy…” After all, he points out:

“Burn an American flag on campus or stand on a bench and decry the Constitution as racist and you will be allowed to speak. Wear an American flag on your shirt or hand out copies of the Constitution and you will be accused of triggering and sent off to the campus equivalent of the broom closet, called ‘Free Speech Zones,’ in order to continue to express your thoughts.”

And that intolerance has never cut both ways. Liberals used to care about the free exchange of ideas — until theirs became impossible to defend. Now, they’ve decided they don’t want to try to win the debate. They want to stop the debate from taking place. After years of policing speech and punishing speakers, the Left’s brainwashing is paying off. Thirty-percent of college students think shouting down people like Ben Shapiro is acceptable. Another 10 percent said it was okay to use violence to stop students like Hayden. And where did these extremists-in-training learn how to bully conservatives? From their adult counterparts, of course. They’re just mirroring what they’ve seen from the leaders of “get-up-in-their-face,” “tell-them-they’re-not-welcome,” “we-kick-them” liberalism.

This new army of young radicals thinks they’re on the “morally righteous side” in this culture war, Hayden says, “and in order to win, they must silence any form of dissent.” Now, thanks to President Trump, that silence will hurt any college who encourages it. “For an industry that loves to preach against capitalism, they sure do love their money,” Kirk points out. “This will hopefully start to get their attention. Unlike their students, if they don’t like it, they are certainly free to speak out.”

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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