The explosion of anti-Semitism at American universities has been much discussed since the Hamas massacres in Israel on October 7, 2023. And it is likely to continue roiling public life now that the controversy has forced the resignation of Harvard University’s president, Claudine Gay.
This issue is so troubling because it pits two pillars of the postwar American liberal order against one another. On one hand, there is the principle that, in the wake of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated in decent societies. On the other hand, we have the principle of “free speech” (and with it “free inquiry”), which many Americans have elevated to the level of an “absolute.”
For decades, it was assumed that these two principles—absolute free speech and zero tolerance for anti-Semitism—could be made to live together in peace. This was thanks to the magic of John Stuart Mill’s well-known proposal that the free exchange of divergent ideas will eventually lead society to truth and virtue.
American universities love this argument. It is a staple of introductory political theory courses, and versions of it are taught in courses in economics and natural science as well. Indeed, the belief that free inquiry is the only road to truth has been promoted as the principal dogma of the postwar liberal university for nearly sixty years—since the “free speech” movement of the 1960s.
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But now something has obviously gone wrong. In the wake of October 7th, American universities have revealed themselves to be the driving force behind the return of open anti-Semitism in America. Across the country, university faculty and graduate students have led teach-ins and demonstrations justifying Hamas’s massacre, dismemberment, rape, burning alive, and hostage-taking of more than a thousand Israeli civilians, as well as its explicit promises to do the same to all Jews everywhere. For anyone who still thought the universities were more or less committed to Mill’s theory of the free exchange of ideas, these events have been earth-shaking—because they seem to tell us that, over time, the free exchange of ideas leads to a rampaging hatred of Jews.
This, at any rate, is what you would have to conclude from watching then-President Gay’s now-infamous testimony before Congress on December 5th. When asked whether calling for the extermination of the Jews was an infraction of Harvard’s standards of conduct for faculty and students, Gay replied that “we embrace a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful.”
The revelation that Harvard’s administration has been captured by neo-Marxist ideologues who think calls for the mass murder of Jews should be permitted on the grounds of “free expression” has come as an unwelcome surprise to many.
But the surprises keep coming. It turns out that if you listen to what Gay’s academic critics are saying, you find that many of these outspoken anti-Marxists also believe that calling for the mass murder of Jews should be permitted on campus.
Here, for example, is Jonathan Haidt, a professor at New York University and one of the best liberal critics of academia today, responding to Gay’s comments:
University presidents: If you’re not going to punish students for calling for the elimination of Israel and Israelis, it’s OK with me, but ONLY if you also immediately dismantle the [“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”] speech policing apparatus and norms you created in 2015-2016.
Notice that Haidt is perfectly willing to support Harvard’s policy of permitting calls for genocide against Jews on campus. His argument is only that it is hypocritical to permit students to express such hatred of Jews when the university’s disciplinary apparatus would never permit the same kind of incitement against blacks or gays. To end the hypocrisy, the university must become what is often described as a “neutral” forum that doesn’t take a stand on substantive issues.
My dear friend and former teacher, Robert George of Princeton, has adopted a similar approach. In a widely circulated social media post, George asks “what can be done?” about the fact that American universities have become an incubator for extreme anti-Semitism. He provides both a description of what has gone wrong and a proposed solution:
The problem is that universities have become ideological monocultures. Prevailing dogmas go unchallenged; dissenting opinions are rarely heard. . . . Independence of mind is the solution. A campus culture of robust free inquiry is what produces students who think for themselves.
What is needed, George says, is “to expose our young men and women to a much broader range of perspectives. They need to encounter and engage the best arguments to be made on all sides.” But he opposes “content-based restrictions on speech.”
In other words, George, too, is willing to accept a policy tolerating extreme anti-Semitic speech on campus. A greater diversity of viewpoints on the campus, he suggests, will permit the appropriate replies to be mustered against campus anti-Semites so that the students will have a compelling alternative available.
I agree with much of what George and Haidt have to say about contemporary academia. The universities are, in fact, dominated by an ideological monoculture, and it would be far better if the students were exposed to a broader range of perspectives and encouraged to develop independent positions and to express them freely. I also agree with the aim of dismantling the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) apparatus, which is the part of the university administration that is formally tasked with curating racially discriminatory policies throughout the institution—like permitting calls for the mass murder of whites and Jews, but not blacks or Muslims.
But such proposals for restoring pre-2015 conditions cannot fix the universities, because they do not get at the heart of what is wrong with them. The actual sickness comes into view when we recognize that virtually no one at these institutions—whether in the administration or in the anti-Marxist opposition—is willing to argue directly against faculty appointments for exterminationist anti-Semites.
The best they can do is to propose that faculty and students should be allowed to argue for the mass murder of whomever they like—whites or blacks, Jews, Christians, Muslims, or gays. Under the theory of absolute free speech (“no content-based restrictions on speech”), everyone should be fair game as professors and students debate who should be exterminated, with “the best arguments” being trotted out by all sides.
Of course, no one really wants such a university. But the fact that anti-Marxists like Haidt and George have been reduced to defending the “absolute free speech” point of view just shows how vapid the debate over the educational purpose and content of the universities has become. Do these venerable scholars really believe an educational institution can do its job while its faculty and students beat the drums for the extermination of anyone they please? Or are they just saying that because, in today’s universities, you can’t get away with arguing for anything other than more free speech?
Either way, this position is fundamentally wrongheaded and should be rejected. In fact, there is no reason the universities should permit faculty and students to call for genocide against the Jews—or anyone else.
Was There Ever “Absolute Free Speech” on Campus?
The truth is that there never has been anything resembling “absolute free speech” at the universities and there never will be.
Sure, things were better in the mid-1980s when Robby George and I first met at Princeton. In those days, there were still exceedingly rare cases in which a scholar such as George could gain a position in the politics department despite being an advocate for the Catholic natural law tradition. And Princeton really was prepared to tolerate conservative student organizations (so long as the official daily student paper, The Princetonian, remained firmly in the liberal camp). This meant that I was able to found a conservative student magazine, The Princeton Tory, which received a small office from the university, next door to The Progressive Review. It also meant that public debates were held on campus every week between Whig and Clio, the student debating societies, in which liberal students took one side of an issue and conservative students spoke for the other. And on weekends, you could go to debate tournaments at other colleges, where conservative teams often won top honors. Moreover, at Princeton in the 1980s, student groups could invite radicals such as Noam Chomsky and Meir Kahane to come to campus and present their views before large audiences.
Looking back on it now, I am amazed by how orderly and respectful all of this was. Heckling a speaker was allowed as long as your intervention was quick and got the audience to laugh. But no one thought they had a right to shout a speaker down. There were occasional demonstrations when a major public figure came to campus, but these were largely symbolic and didn’t actually prevent anyone from saying what they had to say.
So campus life, as experienced by the students, really did seem to be an impressive example of a strong culture of free speech, and a valuable preparation for public life in a multi-party political system.
But was it a regime of absolutely free speech and free inquiry? Of course not.
Speakers like Chomsky and Kahane were radical in many ways. But neither of them was so brazen as to use their platform at Princeton to call for the extermination of entire national, religious, or racial groups. No one defended such things at the weekly Whig–Clio debates or in student publications or anywhere else in the university’s public forums. There was no “free speech” available if you wanted to justify the Holocaust, or Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks, or the Khmer Rouge murder of two million Cambodians. No one tried to defend the ideologically induced murder of millions, just as no one tried to justify raping women, or engaging in torture for pleasure, or purposely killing children. On the contrary, these examples were invoked as a matter of course, by both professors and students, as things no reasonable person could defend. That is, they were used to frame the sphere of legitimate political debate within which our exercise of free speech and inquiry took place.
There were other, more stringent limitations on free speech and inquiry at the university, too. By the time I was an undergraduate, openly conservative professors had been just about eliminated from the Princeton faculty. This should have been of great concern to anyone who believed truth could only emerge from the free exchange of divergent opinions. After all, the most important political figures leading the Western world in its confrontation with Soviet Communism at the time—President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II—were all nationalists and conservatives of one kind or another. How, then, could the Princeton faculty be engaged in a “free exchange of ideas” when conservative views were almost nonexistent among them?
But in practice, no one seemed to be overly bothered by this question. I remember Marvin Bressler, a sociology professor whose specialty was higher education, visiting the kosher dining hall and explaining to the Jewish students why there were almost no conservative faculty at Princeton. “It’s simple,” he said. “Professors are much more perspicacious than the general population of the country. And people who are more perspicacious support the Democratic Party. So it only makes sense that the professors at Princeton should overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party.”
Professors like Bressler didn’t see a conflict between this kind of bottomless contempt for conservatives and the theory that truth can only emerge from the free exchange of divergent opinions. They believed that in hiring liberals, the university was getting just the kind of people who would use their freedom of inquiry to get to the truth (as liberals understood it).
How are we to think about this unofficial ban on hiring more than the slightest token representation of conservative faculty? Princeton was building an army of liberal faculty and administrators—some of them lovely and welcoming, some of them cynical apparatchiks like Bressler—who were being paid to research, write, publish, lecture, and advise students in step with a liberal worldview that laid a heavy hand on everything in the university and, in the end, got the better of almost everyone.
When considered in this light, it is hard to say that we students were really given an opportunity to pursue “free inquiry” at Princeton. It’s true that we could mostly say and write what we wanted. The only Princeton functionary I ever encountered who was actively trying to censor the speech of conservative students was the Hillel rabbi. But in the absence of a range of courses taught from a variety of conservative perspectives, the truth is that conservative students could not gain more than a superficial understanding of the tradition of thought they were defending—whether in the study of history, philosophy, political theory, law, economics, sociology, religion, or anything else. Haphazardly reading works by conservatives in order to be able to write for The Tory and win public debates, I was certainly learning something. However, I would have graduated with ten times the knowledge and competence in the subjects I cared about if the university’s humanities and social science faculties had been built to enable a minimally fair discussion between liberals and conservatives on the range of intellectual issues that divide them.
It is instructive that while Princeton had no interest in building up a conservative wing of its faculty, the university administration was working to create a suitable educational environment for neo-Marxist revolutionaries. This wasn’t because Princeton’s liberal administrators were interested in greater “viewpoint diversity,” and noticed that there just weren’t enough Marxists on campus. Rather, it was because the administration was anxious to open the campus to minority professors and students and was—as often turned out to be the case with 1960s liberalism—much more interested in the color of their skin than in the ideas they were promoting. In 1968, strikes by student activists calling themselves the “Third World Liberation Front” at universities in California focused on the demand to open Black Studies Departments and Schools of Ethnic Studies more broadly. Princeton responded as scores of other universities did: by opening an Afro-American studies program in 1969 and granting a building and an operating budget to a student-run “Third World Center” in 1971.
At the level of principle, there are good reasons for universities to offer courses on subjects of particular interest to blacks and other minority groups. However, in the universities’ haste to open Black Studies and other Ethnic Studies programs across the United States, they either didn’t know or didn’t want to know that many of these academic programs were being born out of intellectual circles aligned with Herbert Marcuse’s New Left and the Marxist-Leninist Black Panthers. (See Christopher Rufo’s excellent book on this subject, America’s Cultural Revolution (2023)). This meant that, from the outset, Black Studies departments and student organizations like the Third World Center tended to understand the world in terms of the Marxist dichotomy between oppressor and oppressed—and so were predisposed to tolerate the violence, anti-white hatred, and disgust for America that came with that intellectual inheritance.
As a student at Princeton, I had a few friends among the faculty and students associated with the Third World Center. In those days, they were still a small group of outsiders, and our conversations were usually amicable and respectful. But their ideas were unlike anything I had ever heard from the liberals I knew so well from Whig-Clio and the debate team. In conversations with these “progressives,” you got hit with a full-blown ideology that saw America as a fundamentally oppressive and racist country. The view of Israel as a colonialist oppressor enterprise was there, too. So was the theory that marriage and the family are oppressive institutions subjugating women to the rule of men. (It was in these conversations that I first heard it claimed that single motherhood was a traditional African family structure whose effect was to empower women; and that I was “pro-natal” because I believed that people should marry and have children.)
In the years that followed, the universities opened additional ethnic studies programs, departments, and centers whose nominal purpose was bolstering the standing of women and minorities. On the surface, it was just the liberal thing to do—letting “women’s voices,” “black voices,” “Hispanic voices,” and others, have a seat at the table. And of course, some of the professors and students brought into the university through these efforts ended up being perfectly good liberals. But the fact that the new disciplines and student centers were being accredited and funded by liberal bureaucrats without much concern over their revolutionary political orientation would have dramatic consequences for the universities. Because now they were extending the principles of free speech and inquiry to a rapidly expanding wing of the faculty and student body that identified with the Soviet Union and the Marxist revolutionaries then fighting for “Third World liberation”—and whose aim was to bring the same kind of “liberation” to the United States in the name of “decolonization,” “abolition of whiteness,” and “anti-Zionism.”
Why 1980s-Style Tolerance for Campus Radicals Won’t Work
The universities’ policy of recruiting and funding campus Marxists while maintaining an almost complete ban on hiring conservative faculty has been a disaster for American academia. The looming catastrophe was already widely discussed in the wake of books such as Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987) and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education (1991). But there was no change of course. The liberal universities maintained this policy for the next four decades.
In the course of these years, neo-Marxists and their Muslim supremacist allies conquered the administration in the leading American universities. These academic movements relied on the right of “free speech and inquiry” as a shield to protect faculty and students who were ideologically committed to total war against “whiteness” and “Zionism” (that is, against whites and Jews). And they are still relying on it today.
They are also relying on prominent anti-Marxist academics like Haidt and George to continue supporting this policy by urging that “absolute free speech” is the right principle to apply in such cases.
But “absolute free speech” is exactly the wrong principle to be applying to calls for the mass murder of Jews or Christians, whites or blacks, at American universities. No political principle can be absolute. Every principle becomes a caricature of itself, and then downright dangerous, when it is taken as applying in every case whatsoever without limit. In political life, what is right is found in the proper balance among the principles, with each setting limits on the others.
In calling for a university without “content-based restrictions on speech,” I suspect that what professors like Haidt and George have in mind is the culture of free speech that characterized student life during the 1980s, when radicals like Noam Chomsky and Meir Kahane could come to campus and present their views in the main lecture halls of the university without significant interruption.
But 1980s-style toleration for campus radicalism is not a precedent for what is happening today. The neo-Marxist and Islamic supremacist movements that have established a dominant position on university campuses are unlike anything we experienced in those days. They are different from the old campus radicalism in four ways:
First, in publicly cheering the destruction of “oppressor groups” such as whites and Jews, campus revolutionaries are directly inciting violence against other faculty members and students.
Second, as we have seen repeatedly since October 7th, they have entirely jettisoned the boundaries of legitimate debate within which campus free speech and inquiry took place forty years ago. They are not only justifying the ideological extermination of millions, but also the raping of women, sadistic torture of all kinds, and the intentional murder of children and the elderly.
Third, they are not simply participating in a peaceful exchange of ideas in the hope of persuading others. Rather, they express their views in the context of a broader strategy of employing threats, aggression, deception, and a wide variety of forms of abuse in order to intimidate and silence anyone expressing disagreement with their views.
Fourth, their domination of the campuses relies on like-minded allies in the disciplinary apparatus of the university. The role of these administrators is to make sure that conservative, nationalist, Christian, or Jewish faculty and students who resist in any public way are charged with and convicted of crimes against the university’s “community standards” for doing so; whereas neo-Marxist or Islamic supremacist faculty and students who use tactics of intimidation and abuse to purposely put an end to free speech and independent thought on the campus are granted de facto immunity in the face of whatever charges may be filed against them.
When you look these four points squarely in the eye, you see that something hideous has been brought into being on university campuses: the universities, through an excess of liberality and toleration, have permitted the establishment on campus of organized groups of administrators, faculty, and students that are pursuing an aim that has nothing whatsoever to do with establishing a “campus culture of robust free inquiry.” These are not supporters of free speech and independence of mind. They are unblushing totalitarians and apologists for the most extreme forms of violence imaginable. Their ideology of total war, combined with their vicious techniques of suppressing all opposition, have ended even the limited degree of free speech and inquiry that once existed at the universities.
How did this happen? It happened because the universities, pandering to the demands of neo-Marxist revolutionaries speaking in the name of blacks and other minorities, suspended the old boundaries of legitimate speech and debate. Indeed, whatever these activists were writing or teaching, or doing to intimidate other faculty and students, or foisting upon university administrators so as to better control the campus, was protected by the principles of “free speech” or “academic freedom.” That is what allowed the hiring of anti-white and anti-Semitic faculty. It allowed these faculty members to exercise a veto over appointments and curriculum decisions. It allowed the establishment of entire departments designed to provide a supportive environment for their doctrines. It allowed these faculty to organize themselves into campus-wide pressure groups capable of intimidating university administrators, forcing changes in university policies, and firing faculty that stood in their way. It allowed the capture of disciplinary organizations and accrediting boards. And it allowed, during and after the George Floyd riots in 2020, the conquest of the university administrations and their co-optation into the cause of neo-Marxist and Muslim supremacist revolution.
Further calls for free speech and free inquiry are wildly inadequate to these circumstances. We must recognize that these principles, while worthy in themselves, cannot defend the university against organized movements of fanatical administrators, faculty, and students bent on conquering and transforming it into an institution devoted to promoting hatred and revolution. It’s not just that they failed to prevent the transformation of the liberal university of the 1980s into a training facility for bigotry, hatred, and revolutionary action against whites, Jews, and other “oppressor groups” in the 2020s. In the form of a senseless and unworkable commitment to “absolute free speech,” these principles were in fact crucial to nurturing, advancing, and protecting the neo-Marxist revolution in the universities.
The Marxists couldn’t have won without it.
Four Crucial Principles in Addition to “Free Speech”
The principles of free speech and inquiry have proved not only impotent, but counterproductive in the face of organized neo-Marxist and Islamic supremacist groups seeking to make the prestige and power of the universities their own. So it is only reasonable that we should at this time emphasize additional principles that are relevant to our present circumstances.
What other principles should be emphasized in the effort to restore the university?
Here are four:
1. The university is an educational institution. To be an educational institution, a university must be a certain kind of human organization. In particular, it must be hierarchically ordered, passing certain norms of behavior and speech down from the instructors and administrators to the students. This is true of even the most tolerant of educational institutions—because tolerance of the free speech and inquiry of others is not natural to human beings, but must be taught. Where free speech and inquiry exists, it is only thanks to disciplined instruction in a hierarchically ordered setting.
In particular, the “campus culture of robust free inquiry” that Robert George describes can only exist where the faculty and administrators of the university make it their business to hand down norms of behavior and speech that permit such an environment to propagate. For example, a university that permits a professor to lead a group of students, bullhorn in hand, to a campus lecture with the purpose of preventing it from taking place, is not one that is in the business of handing down the norms of behavior and speech that are required for a strong culture of free inquiry to propagate. Instead, such a university is inculcating an entirely different set of behavioral norms—namely, those that are useful in bringing a country to its knees.
2. An educational institution must maintain clear boundaries for legitimate speech and behavior. To do its job, an educational institution must have a clear understanding of the norms of speech and behavior it seeks to inculcate—including recognizing the outer boundaries of the sphere of legitimate speech and behavior within the institution. It must relentlessly seek out and appoint administrators, instructors, and students who are capable of upholding these norms of behavior and speech. And it must be capable of suspending the participation of administrators, instructors, and students who can’t be brought around to upholding these norms of behavior and speech.
In this context, we must keep in mind that the tolerant student free speech culture in which the older generation was educated never attempted to be a regime of “absolute free speech.” On the contrary, it flourished as a sphere of legitimate debate whose outer boundaries were known by way of oft-repeated examples of things that, as we used to say, “just can’t be defended.” The examples that were current when I was a student included the extermination of millions by Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, raping women, sadistic torture of all kinds, and the intentional murder of children and other helpless persons.
3. A regime of free speech depends on a system of mutual honor upheld by all individuals and factions. Are boundaries for legitimate speech necessary for propagating a working regime of free speech? Yes, they are. Because a sphere of free speech cannot be maintained except by means of an ongoing exchange of honors, which are accorded to each individual and faction participating in the regime of free speech by the others. And this ongoing exchange of honors must involve restrictions on the form and content of permissible speech.
For instance, in the traditional forms of debate that I learned and later taught at Princeton, one must honor a speaker with whom one disagrees by 1) listening to him present his views for his allotted time without interruption (or with only brief interventions in accordance with clearly established norms); and by 2) replying to his remarks with substantive arguments, rather than with attacks on his person (including abuse and threats directed at his family, nation, religion, race, sex, party affiliation, and so on). The participants in such a debate may despise one another. But so long as they actively uphold the system of mutual honors in at least these two ways, the various sides will be able to carry on a “free exchange of ideas.”
What is true of formal debate is no less important for the larger sphere of free speech and debate on the university campus. Without such an ongoing, disciplined exchange of honors among the disputing individuals and factions on the campus, the regime of free speech collapses.
The theory of “absolute free speech” dispenses with these crucial prerequisites on the mistaken assumption that a regime of free speech can be maintained without them. But it cannot. There is no such thing as “free speech” where individuals are prevented from speaking, or where the audience makes a show of not hearing some of the speakers out, or where the threat of being prevented from speaking hangs over the proceedings. Similarly, there is no free speech where individuals are subjected to personal abuse and threats instead of substantive arguments, including abuse and threats directed at their family, nation, religion, race, and so on. This is because individuals facing such conditions will (or should) immediately conclude that the other side is pursuing an aim that has nothing to do with establishing and maintaining a sphere of free speech and debate, but is instead seeking to suppress opposing views by inducing pain, humiliation, and fear.
4. Personal threats must be proscribed. At an absolute minimum, any regime of free speech at an educational institution must include a prohibition of threats directed at administrators, faculty, and students, including threats directed at their family, nation, religion, race, sex, political party, and similar categories.
Note that this is a substantive point, related to the content of what is said, rather than the way in which this message is conveyed. There may be moments of anger in which inappropriate things are said and then withdrawn. But where the justification for the mass murder, rape, or sadistic torture of a particular loyalty group represented on campus is proposed in earnest, there is no way for the faculty members and students subjected to such threats to be assured of their physical safety. Nor is it possible to suggest that they are still participating in the mutual exchange of honors that is required to maintain a functioning sphere of free speech. For both of these reasons, it is impossible for a regime of free speech to propagate where such threats are permitted.
Of course it is this boundary—the illegitimacy of justifying the extermination of the Jews—that the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania refused to uphold in their testimony before Congress.
This is not just an outrage against Jews. It is a declaration that the boundaries of the free speech regime that once existed at these institutions are gone. What even anti-Marxist professors seem unable to understand is that there will be no regime of “free speech and inquiry” in these institutions until something like the old boundaries are restored.
The universities have been destroyed as an educational environment because virtually no one has the understanding and courage to say out loud what was once obvious to all: that the public promotion of the extermination of Jews or Christians, whites or blacks, must be considered intolerable at an educational institution; and that the president of the university must have the responsibility and the authority to terminate faculty and to suspend students who advocate such atrocities.
Similarly, the president of the university must have the responsibility and the authority to terminate faculty and to suspend students involved in organizing public actions whose purpose is to prevent university scholars or guest speakers from presenting their views in an orderly and peaceable manner.
To affirm these things is to admit that free speech cannot be absolute at the university, but must be balanced against other principles that are not less important to its proper functioning. Only once these norms have been reinstated, and once administrators have been appointed who are ready and able to uphold them, will it be possible to say that the restoration of the university as an institution worthy of public and private trust has begun.
Overcoming the Myth of the “Neutral” University
I cannot accept, much less endorse, the policies of the liberal universities in which I was educated. These institutions were generous to me personally, for which I am grateful. However, I cannot forgive their thuggish policy of seeking to eliminate conservative ideas from public life by denying them anything but the slightest presence on the university faculties.
If I were a liberal, I would look upon the results of this policy today in horror and shame. Had the liberal universities been motivated by common sense rather than anti-conservative bigotry, their policy might have been to balance the influence of every neo-Marxist or radical Muslim faculty appointment with the appointment of an openly conservative member of the faculty, preferably an orthodox Christian or a Jew. If it had chosen such a prudent course, the university would probably have been spared its humiliating, decades-long decline into neo-Marxist revolution.
Yet the hatred of conservatives that so obviously colored academic appointments forty years ago continues to this day. Even now, more than three years after the catastrophe, many of the most prominent anti-Marxist liberals continue to cling to their anti-conservative bigotry as though their very lives depended on it.
This suggests that they never really believed in the Millian theory that truth and virtue arise from the free exchange of divergent ideas. What they actually believe is that truth arises from their own ideas—to which they maintain a fierce, tribal loyalty even after these ideas have brought ruin upon them.
One of these ruinous liberal ideas is the myth that a university can operate as a “neutral” forum without any “content-based restrictions on speech.”
In reality, the liberal university never operated that way. And it never will.
The massacres of October 7th have brought us face-to-face with organized groups of faculty members at the universities who are apologists for the most extreme forms of anti-Semitism imaginable. They have also permitted us to see how successful these anti-Semitic groups have been at capturing the administration of the universities and shaping them in their own image.
Perhaps the time has finally come for anti-Marxist professors to concede that the liberal theory of the university as a “neutral” forum is too far removed from reality to be feasible. Instead, anti-Marxist liberals and conservatives should be defending a theory of the university as an educational institution that has no choice but to uphold at least minimal standards of substantive decency.