- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2017

A Middlebury College professor says she “feared for her life” last week after angry protesters grabbed her hair and shoved her as she tried to escape a canceled lecture with Libertarian author Charles Murray.

Mr. Murray, a fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, was scheduled to give a live lecture at the Vermont campus on Thursday, but hundreds of demonstrators shouted and chanted over him, forcing school officials to move the talk to a private location that could be streamed online.

Allison Stanger, a professor of politics and economics, moderated a Q&A session, which Mr. Murray later described as “so interesting” that he almost forgot about the annoying din of the fire alarm, which protesters had pulled earlier.

Both Mr. Murray and Ms. Stanger have posted their version of accounts online.

“I want you to know how hard it was for us to continue with fire alarms going off and enraged students and outside agitators banging on the windows,” Ms. Stanger wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. “I thought they were going to break through, and I then wondered what would happen next.”

In a blog post Sunday, Mr. Murray said that as he and Ms. Stanger tried to leave campus to attend a dinner with faculty and students, they were swarmed by an angry mob of at least 20 protesters who wouldn’t let them pass.

“I didn’t see it happen, but someone grabbed Allison’s hair just as someone else shoved her from another direction, damaging muscles, tendons, and fascia in her neck,” Mr. Murray wrote.

He said that if it hadn’t been for Ms. Stanger, Middlebury spokesman Bill Burger, and two security guards keeping the mob at bay, he would have been pushed to the ground. Ms. Stanger wrote that most of the hatred was focused on Mr. Murray at first, until she grabbed his arm to make sure they stayed together.

“One thug grabbed me by the hair and another shoved me in a different direction. I noticed signs with expletives and my name on them,” Ms. Stanger wrote. “For those of you who marched in Washington the day after the inauguration, imagine being in a crowd like that, only being surrounded by hatred rather than love. I feared for my life.”

Once they made it to the car, “protesters surrounded the car, banging on the sides and the windows and rocking the car, climbing onto the hood,” Mr. Murray wrote. He said they were eventually followed by protesters to their first dinner location, so they had to move it to a restaurant just outside Middlebury.

Ms. Stanger, who said her husband had to take her to the ER, called Thursday’s events “a metaphor for what is wrong with our country.”

“This was the saddest day of my life,” she wrote. “We have got to do better by those who feel and are marginalized. Our 230-year constitutional democracy depends on it, especially when our current President is blind to the evils he has unleashed. We must all realize the precious inheritance we have as fellow Americans and defend the Constitution against all its enemies, both foreign and domestic. That is why I do not regret my involvement in the event with Dr. Murray.”

Mr. Murray said Middlebury’s free speech stance so far “has been exemplary,” but said it’s what the college does next with the protesters that’s most important.

“Absent an adequate disciplinary response, I fear that the Middlebury episode could become an inflection point,” he wrote.

At the very least, he’s glad to have made two new friends from the ordeal.

“On the bright side: Made two new friends Thursday,” Mr. Murraytweeted Saturday. “Bill Burger, who among other things drove our getaway car through the mob, and Allison Stanger. She’s on the left. And fearless, funny, smart as can be, and as devoted to academic freedom as anyone I’ve ever met.”

An anonymous group of students on Saturday gave their account of the chaos, published by Middlebury blog Middbeat.org, calling Mr. Murray a “eugenicist” and accusing security personnel of assaulting students.

“A student reports that Professor Stanger’s hair was not intentionally pulled but was inadvertently caught in the chaos that Public Safety incited,” they wrote. “It is irresponsible to imply that a protester aggressively and intentionally pulled her hair.” 

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