Heather Mac Donald, Claremont, and Civilization

by Jay Nordlinger

The Claremont Colleges are that consortium of institutions in southern California. I have never been to Claremont — but I’ve always imagined those connected campuses as ideal. Groves of learning in southern California? How can you beat it?

Plus, Claremont has always been dear to conservative, and libertarian, hearts, because of an academic pedigree that includes Harry Jaffa and Charles Kesler.

I’ll see the place for myself on Wednesday evening when I give a talk, at the Athenaeum (!), at 5:30. Have a link. My talk is “Politics on Campus: Yes and No.” (Mainly, I say No.)

I was shocked to hear of mob action against Heather Mac Donald at Claremont last Thursday. Heather has written up the experience here. Bennington, Reed, or Brown, I might expect. Claremont? Has the curse of illiberalism spread that far?

Heather Mac (as some of us affectionately know her) is an extraordinary person. She thinks through the hard issues — such as immigration and policing. She arrives at conclusions, whether they are popular or not. She states them clearly. And then she holds her ground, fearlessly. This kind of integrity is rare.

In a world that goes with the flow — a habit of both Right and Left — she does not.

When I think of a mob attack on her, I am sickened. A mob attack on anyone is wrong, of course, and sickening. But hear me out: Heather is a woman steeped in civilization — in music, literature, public policy, etc. An attack on her is something like an attack on civilization. I’m serious.

Plus, she is a petite woman, a slip of a girl — but with a lion’s heart and a titanium spine.

People who go to school in Claremont are so unbelievably lucky. They have hit the jackpot of life. Millions of people around the world would give anything to trade places with them. And if you don’t like a guest speaker — or don’t think you will — you don’t have to go hear him, you know. You can study your Homer, play a game of tennis, have a milkshake with your sweetheart, or whatever.

Viva la différence, and la liberté.

One of the reasons I joined the conservatives, way back, is that they were the only ones defending liberalism.

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