Tuesday night at the University of Scranton some members of the sponsoring group were nervous. The university had taken much longer to approve my speaking at the campus than they had taken to approve other speakers, and had made the students answer all sorts of questions about whether the event would be in keeping with the mission of the university.
How about this for the mission of a university? Should it perchance be “the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonist activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth” Should it be a place where “inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge”? (Thus Cardinal Newman.) Or should it be an indoctrination house for propagandists to stifle inquiry into and speculation about issues they wish not to be explored, as they interfere with the thrust of their propaganda?
I suspect they’ve already made their choice between those two at the University of Scranton, as well as at other once-fine universities all across the country, but they did let me speak Tuesday night. However, one of the members of the sponsoring group invited the local imam to come to the talk and make a five-minute rebuttal address after I spoke. I never did get the full story on this, but apparently he wanted to show the university administrators that the group was willing to air all points of view. I was asked Tuesday afternoon whether or not it would be acceptable to me if the imam spoke, and I said Absolutely Not. The group nevertheless seems to have asked him to speak, but he did not reply to their invitation.
Why did I oppose having the imam speak after me, when I profess to be so open to discussion and debate? Because what was proposed was not a debate or a dialogue, but my speech and his rebuttal. I would be happy to debate him if a debate were set up, and happy to answer his questions if he had deigned to show up at the talk, but not happy to have him come in to “correct” my remarks, as if there really were something wrong with what I am saying, such that someone is needed to come in afterward, smooth ruffled feathers, and issue a disclaimer.
Thus when I got to the venue I urged the sponsoring group not to allow themselves to be intimidated. Of course, that’s easy for me to say: I don’t have to live there for four years. I have immense respect for every member of this group, including the young man who suggested that the imam come in, because they hold to their principles under tremendous and often outrageous pressure from university administrators and their fellow students. Nevertheless, they and all students who are opposing the jihad and standing up for other politically incorrect positions should avoid allowing themselves to be put on the defensive and even tacitly accepting the Leftist/Jihadist line that what the anti-jihad stands for is bigotry, racism, hate, etc. It isn’t. It is freedom, it is human rights, it is Western civilization, it is nothing for which to apologize, nothing of which to be ashamed.
Anyway, during the talk itself, which was apparently attended by at least some members of the campus MSA chapter, I noticed a number of students rolling their eyes and smiling in amused disgust at the egregious things I was saying. Since they did this frequently throughout the talk, I was ready for a barrage of hostile questions during the Q-and-A period. But none materialized. Not a single one of the eye-rollers approached the microphone to ask me even one question. So after a few questions from people in the audience who were sympathetic to what I was saying, the evening ended somewhat prematurely.
So all the MESA Nostra professors and all the MSA’s loudly insist that I am wrong, wrong, wrong, and yet none of them dares to even try to prove it when I am right in front of them. Isn’t that interesting?
The university is, said Newman, “a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge.” That is an ideal. It is not the University of Scranton, or much of anywhere else that goes by the name of university these days.