EDITORIAL: The intolerant left’s heckler’s veto on campus

Illiberal professors silence dissenting commencement speakers

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This must be commencement season on campus, because the heckler’s veto is back. When one of the nation’s most expensive colleges and universities invites the rare Republican to address the ceremonies, the rude and the thuggish are guaranteed to shout him out of the cloistered hall.

Condoleezza Rice bowed out as graduation speaker at Rutgers University amid protests by a small but noisy gaggle of intolerant leftist students and professors offended by the former secretary of state’s role in the Iraq war.

Miss Rice was as usual more gracious than her foes. “Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” she said, announcing her withdrawal. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

Noting her background as a professor at Stanford University, she said, “I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony, and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.”

To its credit, the New Jersey university had stood by its invitation to Miss Rice to speak at the May 18 event, not yielding to the demands to disinvite her from those whom Karl Rove called “little totalitarians on the left.”

There were no such intellectual heroics at Brandeis University, which withdrew an honorary degree for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an inspiration to women everywhere and one of the most outspoken critics of militant Islamic abuse of women.

Miss Ali “is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world,” the Massachusetts school said. Respect and appreciation, just not very much. “We cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

Smaller, less well-known schools are no less immune from the politically correct. Azusa Pacific University “postponed” a planned April 22 “conversation” with scholar Charles Murray. The president of the suburban Los Angeles school said that given how late it was in the semester “and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship,” he “needed more time to prepare for the visit.” The “conversation” had been in the works for months.

Mr. Murray, author of the provocative and influential best-sellers “Losing Ground” and “The Bell Curve” — the latter explored the connection between race and IQ — responded in an open letter to Azusa students, saying he had been told by a faculty member that the school president and provost “were afraid of hurting our faculty and students of color.”

The Young America’s Foundation has been tracking the ideological imbalance of college commencement speakers for two decades. It hasn’t released its findings for 2014 yet, but last year’s survey found that of 79 ideologically identifiable speakers at the nation’s top 100 universities, 62 were liberal and 17 were conservatives. That was an improvement from 2012, but not much, when the ratio was 71 liberals to just 10 conservatives. That’s not education. That’s indoctrination.

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