Politics & Policy

The Corner

Today’s Intellectually-Challenged College Protestors

Last night, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (with the assistance of the student Libertarian and Republican clubs) staged a debate at the University of Pittsburgh on immigration. The question: “Are Trump’s Immigration Policies Harming America?”

I was there to argue in favor of enforcing our immigration laws and the policies being implemented by the president. The other side was ably represented by Alex Nowrasteh of the CATO Institute. Alex and I almost entirely disagree on this issue, but we were able to do something that is unfortunately becoming rare on college campuses: engage in a substantive, professional, and civil debate on a contentious issue — a debate in which we stuck to the issue and avoided personal attacks on each other’s motives or character.

The moderator was Paul Kengor, an intellectual heavyweight who has written numerous books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism and his latest, A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.

The room at the William Pitt Union building was packed. Of course, as seems inevitable on the modern university campus, we had a handful of protestors intent on disrupting the debate. As they started their protests, Kengor interrupted them to point out the absurdity of what they were doing. This wasn’t a one-sided presentation, he told them; this was a debate in which both sides were being argued and discussed.

What was so bizarre — and evidence that these protestors weren’t really interested in what was being said in the debate — is that they were at their loudest when Alex was speaking. Alex thinks most of Trump’s policies are wrong, which is the side the protestors were apparently taking, and yet they were interrupting the guy arguing for their side.

A number of protestors also stood up after putting cone hats on their heads – the kind of hats six-year-old kids wear at birthday parties – and then attempted to loudly play kazoos. What did they think they were achieving? Did they really think such infantile behavior helped advance their side of the argument and persuaded folks in the audience that they have the correct substantive view on immigration issues?

All the protestors did was annoy the audience, the overwhelming majority of whom were civil and polite and actually listening to the arguments of the debaters. And the audience members — undergraduate students — asked intelligent, germane questions during the question-and-answer period.

If the childish and thoughtless behavior of the protestors, however, was indicative of the type of intellectual rigor and cultural behavior being taught in our classrooms today, this country is indeed in trouble.

Hans A. von Spakovsky — Heritage Foundation – As a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, Hans von Spakovsky concentrates on voting, ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More