Stanford University (and other universities and colleges all across the U.S.) has a problem, and it isn’t that they’ve been inviting “crass or demogogic” speakers instead of “challenging and thought-provoking” ones. The problem is that university administrators and students carry out wildly counter-factual smear campaigns against speakers they dislike, painting them as “crass or demogogic” and as “inflammatory performers” who just want to “throw bombs or stir up controversy for the sake of it,” without ever dealing with the actually “thought-provoking” points the speaker makes.
At Stanford, I took out a full-page ad in the Stanford Daily refuting some of the false charges that had been made against me, and offering evidence for the positions I have taken; not only was it ignored, but only minutes after the event began, Stanford administrators Nanci Howe and Snehal Naik engineered a walkout of the vast majority of the crowd, and subsequently refused to allow in students who actually wanted to attend the event.
You can see for yourself how “inflammatory” and “demogogic” I was at Stanford:
What Stanford has to deal with is not finding speakers who are genuinely thoughtful rather than demogogic; what Stanford has to deal with is the strong current among faculty and students to engage in Nazi Brownshirt tactics of smearing and then forcibly silencing speakers who dissent from the line they accept. If there were anyone there who understood the implications of what happened when I spoke there, that would be a huge topic of discussion on the Stanford campus today. But apparently there isn’t.
“Announcing Cardinal Conversations,” Stanford Review, January 11, 2018:
The events will feature disagreement, but not simplistic liberal-conservative duels. Speakers will be challenging and thought-provoking, but not crass or demagogic. Professor Niall Ferguson, one of the co-sponsors of the series, vociferously distinguishes it from other attempts to ignite debates about free speech, such as the Stanford College Republicans’ invitation of Robert Spencer or the Berkeley Republicans’ invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos. Cardinal Conversations is not looking to throw bombs or stir up controversy for the sake of it; speakers will be provocative thinkers, not inflammatory performers.
“Peter Thiel, Charles Murray invited to new ‘conversation’ series aimed at diversity of views,” by Holden Foreman, Stanford Daily, January 10, 2018:
Palantir founder Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman will kick off the new Cardinal Conversations speaker series on Jan. 31 with a discussion on “Technology and Politics” hosted in Hauck Auditorium.
Thiel and Hoffman’s talk is the first of four Cardinal Conversations aimed at representing a diversity of views and putting the opinions of two people in counterpoint while tackling topics ranging from inequality and populism to sexuality and politics. The series, an initiative of the University president, will be co-hosted by the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute over the rest of the academic year….
The roster includes speakers who have caused controversy nationally and at other universities. Murray, who has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for “using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics,” saw his March talk at Middlebury College descend into violence as a student protest turned into physical confrontation. Professor Allison Stanger was injured while escorting him from the scene.
However, compared to the Robert Spencer talk hosted by the Stanford College Republicans earlier this school year, Ferguson said he does not anticipate similar opposition to the Jan. 31 event. Ferguson argued Cardinal Conversations has more bipartisan appeal in contrast with what he described as the more polarizing nature of the Spencer event: Thiel is an open supporter of President Donald Trump, while Hoffman opposes the administration.
“There’s obviously a concern given what events have happened on other campuses,” Ferguson said. “I think [Provost] Persis [Drell] and [President] Marc [Tessier-Lavigne] made it clear in [Notes from the Quad] that there’s a kind of clear line between protest and disruption. We’re happy if people want to express a protest, but clearly, disruptions are not the matter, and we don’t want to see that.”…