Phi Beta Cons

Those Angry, Crazy Conservative Kids

It’s clear that Nancy Thomas, director of the Democracy Imperative at the University of New Hampshire, has had enough. Student activists have finally crossed lines of propriety and legality, and they need to be called out. She writes in Inside Higher Ed:

We need to be clear about what these acts are: attention-seeking tactics that intimidate faculty, students, and guest speakers, distort facts, reduce public issues to simplistic sound-bites, and inhibit the thoughtful exchange of ideas and deliberation, both in and out of the classroom.

Which “acts” is Ms. Thomas talking about? What horrors does she reveal? Perhaps she’s concerned about activists at North Carolina violently disrupting former Congressman Tom Tancredo’s speech. She was possibly frightened by the attack on Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist at Columbia. Or maybe she’s talking about California students illegally interrupting a speech by a respected foreign diplomat. Or she’s alarmed at students seizing control of administration buildings for days at a time. Doubtless she’s disturbed by various “pieing” incidents aimed at conservative commentators. Certainly death and rape threats against peaceful student activists got her attention.

Or perhaps not. Here’s what really gets her goat:

An organized group of conservative students whose tactics are already well-known on many college campuses: selling cookies at reduced rates to women and students-of-color in protest of affirmative action; sneaking video cameras into classrooms and campus forums and posting out-of-context excerpts, often anonymously, as evidence of liberal indoctrination on campus; hosting a gun raffle; researching and publicizing campaign contributions of faculty members and staff. High jinks? Really? Check the campusreform.org Web site, which advises, “Why take action? Because it will shock your opposition.” Is that why activism matters, to shock and discourage others? Are faculty members and other students “the opposition?”

Oh, and she’s also upset at James O’Keefe’s alleged criminal activities in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s officies. You may recall James O’Keefe . . . he’s the conservative activist who I don’t think is a student anywhere.

Surely Ms. Thomas is joking. Selling cookies (gasp)? Taping forums and (oh, the horror!) posting excerpts? Raffles? Disclosing campaign contributions by (allegedly) unbiased faculty? Can the campus survive such atrocities? Oh, and of course there’s Leadership Institute’s website, which currently contains such incitements as conservative students’ (peaceful) efforts to oppose student-fee increases at UNC, an article arguing that Climategate is an “embarassment” to Penn State, and a post celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

I would hope that the director of a Democracy Imperative would understand that the free speech she condemns is the lifeblood of a republic, while the litany of violence I recount above actually threatens political discourse. But of course that’s violence from the left, so it can’t really be threatening. Those activists, after all, are idealistic.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Lies We’re Told about the American Story

Editor’s Note: The following essay was adapted from remarks delivered to the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, in California, on October 4. Every American heart must break when lies are told to boys and girls, who then grow up to think the worst about their past: that the American ... Read More
U.S.

The Lies We’re Told about the American Story

Editor’s Note: The following essay was adapted from remarks delivered to the annual dinner of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, in California, on October 4. Every American heart must break when lies are told to boys and girls, who then grow up to think the worst about their past: that the American ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Film & TV

Bill Murray: The King of Cool

Bill Murray’s Bill Murray impression is priceless in On the Rocks, the way John Wayne did a fantastic John Wayne parody in True Grit and Al Pacino found a new level of Pacino-ness in Scent of a Woman. I want to quote every line of dialogue Murray delivers in his new movie for Apple TV+ -- every hilarious piece ... Read More
Film & TV

Bill Murray: The King of Cool

Bill Murray’s Bill Murray impression is priceless in On the Rocks, the way John Wayne did a fantastic John Wayne parody in True Grit and Al Pacino found a new level of Pacino-ness in Scent of a Woman. I want to quote every line of dialogue Murray delivers in his new movie for Apple TV+ -- every hilarious piece ... Read More
Books

Orwell, Huxley, and Us

To hear some people tell it, America entered a dystopia long before the coronavirus and measures undertaken to combat it altered everyday life almost to the point of unrecognizability. As for which dystopia, and when, well — that depends on whom one asks. For many on the left, the annus horribilis was 2016, ... Read More
Books

Orwell, Huxley, and Us

To hear some people tell it, America entered a dystopia long before the coronavirus and measures undertaken to combat it altered everyday life almost to the point of unrecognizability. As for which dystopia, and when, well — that depends on whom one asks. For many on the left, the annus horribilis was 2016, ... Read More
Media

The Media’s Shameful Hunter Biden Abdication

In an interview with National Public Radio’s public editor today, Terence Samuel, managing editor for news, explained why readers haven’t seen any stories about the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop. “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want ... Read More
Media

The Media’s Shameful Hunter Biden Abdication

In an interview with National Public Radio’s public editor today, Terence Samuel, managing editor for news, explained why readers haven’t seen any stories about the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop. “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want ... Read More