Phi Beta Cons

Greg Lukianoff’s Terrific New Book

In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, I review Greg Lukianoff’s Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.

The book, published yesterday by Encounter, gives an unwavering defense of the principles of free speech and association, while also giving a relentless attack on the intolerance and authoritarianism that so pervades many American colleges and universities.

How on earth did we get here? That is, how could it be that so many college leaders are comfortable with speech codes, free-speech zones, vague “harassment” policies, professors who demand specific political action from students and insist that they accept controversial assumptions, restrictions on what campus organizations can say and whom they must admit, and so on? I think that Lukianoff hints at the explanation but doesn’t quite nail it down: Many college leaders have grown up in the leftist environment which insists that freedom is often “unfair” and must be selectively shackled for the greater social good. That notion goes back at least to Herbert Marcuse, who opposed free speech because those whose thinking he didn’t like could use it to attack the collectivist/statist ideas he did like. Those student radicals of the 1960s are now largely in control of our colleges and universities, and deep down they still adhere to the illiberal ideas of their youth.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Most Popular

U.S.

G-File Mailbag: The Results of a Bad Idea

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you just standing there eating Zarg nuts), I had a bad idea. It wasn’t a terrible idea, like asking a meth addict ... Read More
Politics & Policy

How Democrats Can Blow It in 2020

Donald Trump probably can’t win the 2020 presidential election, but the Democrats can lose it. What I mean is that in a contest between Trump and a generic Democrat, Trump would almost surely lose if the current political climate holds through 2020. According to a Fox News poll this week, 38 percent of ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Collusion Scenario

It has become an article of faith in some quarters on the right -- well, most -- that the Mueller investigation has found no evidence of collusion with Russia and has accordingly shifted gears to process crimes like lying to the FBI or obstruction of justice. Having decided that this must be true, many have ... Read More