When colleges don't protest conservative speakers and faculty

It is wrong to block free speech of any kind (except threats).  Colleges and universities are wrong to allow students to shut down conservative guest speakers.

However, it's time for a little perspective.

What do these three kinds of conservatives have in common?

1. William F. Buckley brought his Firing Line debates to universities all the time, and no one shut them down (University of South Carolina, for example).

2. Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, speaks at colleges and universities often enough – he prefers that forum – and gets thunderous applause from an auditorium full of students and faculty: University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, Princeton, Harvard, UCLA, Oxford, and so on.

3. Conservative faculty who don't seek glory as they labor on college campuses (think of Condoleezza Rice at Stanford).  To be personal, a college teacher walked into the faculty workroom wearing ear buds, and I could overhear that he was listening to Mark Levin (no one could mistake his voice).  After a while, we struck up a conversation.  He's a conservative just doing his job.  It is entirely possible for a conservative to function well in the classroom if one knows how to present conservative political philosophy as an alternative to liberalism.  All one needs to do is present the facts – bloated budgets and the national debt are a good place to start.

What these three groups have in common can best be summarized as follows.

They don't say needlessly provocative statements just to get attention and boost book sales.  They are welcome on to the campus – even though Zacharias has said we need to change direction in this country in November 2016. 

In contrast, a certain kind of celebrity conservative get to walk on to a university campus, heroically avoid the protests (more attention), give a speech from on high, walk off the platform, collect their fees (if offered), and bask in the national news media spotlight for self-aggrandizement purposes (or at least that is the net result).  This is cost-free platform speaking.

Conservative radio hosts don't get invited to speak to various campuses in commencement addresses, for example, because the hosts, as a class (exceptions duly noted), are outrageous (to boost ratings) and non-intellectual. 

There's a reason why celebrity conservatives get protested – however unfair the protests are, since we all believe in free speech.  Many conservatives in the national media spotlight make outlandish statements, which tear down intellectual conservatism.  The right brand of conservatism is time-honored and philosophically sound.  It's taught in political science and economics classes often enough (think of Edmund Burke and Milton Friedman).

Yes, university campuses are wound up tight against conservatives, and the universities need more diversity of thought by hiring more conservatives and ceasing to protesting free speech. 

However, it would be nice if we would stop lionizing celebrity provocateurs and realize there are countless conservatives who do the yeoman's work on campus without the national spotlight.  That is real courage – staying and working, not swooping in, speaking, and leaving.

James Arlandson has taught at the college level for over twenty years.  His website is Live as Free People, where he has posted a new series on the Outlines of Famous Philosophers.

It is wrong to block free speech of any kind (except threats).  Colleges and universities are wrong to allow students to shut down conservative guest speakers.

However, it's time for a little perspective.

What do these three kinds of conservatives have in common?

1. William F. Buckley brought his Firing Line debates to universities all the time, and no one shut them down (University of South Carolina, for example).

2. Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, speaks at colleges and universities often enough – he prefers that forum – and gets thunderous applause from an auditorium full of students and faculty: University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, Princeton, Harvard, UCLA, Oxford, and so on.

3. Conservative faculty who don't seek glory as they labor on college campuses (think of Condoleezza Rice at Stanford).  To be personal, a college teacher walked into the faculty workroom wearing ear buds, and I could overhear that he was listening to Mark Levin (no one could mistake his voice).  After a while, we struck up a conversation.  He's a conservative just doing his job.  It is entirely possible for a conservative to function well in the classroom if one knows how to present conservative political philosophy as an alternative to liberalism.  All one needs to do is present the facts – bloated budgets and the national debt are a good place to start.

What these three groups have in common can best be summarized as follows.

They don't say needlessly provocative statements just to get attention and boost book sales.  They are welcome on to the campus – even though Zacharias has said we need to change direction in this country in November 2016. 

In contrast, a certain kind of celebrity conservative get to walk on to a university campus, heroically avoid the protests (more attention), give a speech from on high, walk off the platform, collect their fees (if offered), and bask in the national news media spotlight for self-aggrandizement purposes (or at least that is the net result).  This is cost-free platform speaking.

Conservative radio hosts don't get invited to speak to various campuses in commencement addresses, for example, because the hosts, as a class (exceptions duly noted), are outrageous (to boost ratings) and non-intellectual. 

There's a reason why celebrity conservatives get protested – however unfair the protests are, since we all believe in free speech.  Many conservatives in the national media spotlight make outlandish statements, which tear down intellectual conservatism.  The right brand of conservatism is time-honored and philosophically sound.  It's taught in political science and economics classes often enough (think of Edmund Burke and Milton Friedman).

Yes, university campuses are wound up tight against conservatives, and the universities need more diversity of thought by hiring more conservatives and ceasing to protesting free speech. 

However, it would be nice if we would stop lionizing celebrity provocateurs and realize there are countless conservatives who do the yeoman's work on campus without the national spotlight.  That is real courage – staying and working, not swooping in, speaking, and leaving.

James Arlandson has taught at the college level for over twenty years.  His website is Live as Free People, where he has posted a new series on the Outlines of Famous Philosophers.