- - Sunday, March 15, 2015

Universities are citadels of free thought, places where intellectual inquiry flourishes in an atmosphere of tolerance. Well, that’s what they’re supposed to be. But many administrators, professors, and, with increasing frequency, students themselves have turned many universities into institutions of indoctrination: Free thinking for me, but not for you.

The governing student association at George Washington University, for one prominent example, has decreed that the leaders of certain student groups must be reconstructed, their minds and vocabularies cleansed of thinking unapproved thoughts about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. New categories of students of unusual, uncommon and unorthodox behavior will no doubt be added as they appear and names can be coined to describe them.

Groups that do not dispatch their leaders to the reconstruction sessions will be at risk of losing their funding. The College Fix, a website that covers the latest news on college campuses, reports that the GW chapter of Young Americans for Freedom has been subjected to a hate campaign by campus critics who call YAF a “hate group” because it resists the order on the grounds of religious freedom. “Religious” may be a stretch, but calling it freedom under assault is not.

Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, was founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr. and others to encourage young people to think for themselves about the issues of the day, and to resist the brainwashing that many professors imagine is the proper role of the university. Such brainwashing is done in the name of tolerance and forbearance, which are good things, but brainwashing leads to intolerance, shutting dissenters out of the debate and breaking down the resistance of all who cannot in conscience submit to groupthink. At George Washington, the young Americans were hate-bombed by a coalition of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered called Allied in Pride.

“If [the Young Americans for Freedom chapter] refuses to participate in safe zone trainings that are aimed at increasing safety and understanding, then they should be considered a hate group and their refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations.”

This is a remarkable exercise in classic intolerance, and worse, enforced by a threat to cut off the funding of those who refuse to speak in the prescribed pronouns of distorted language. A group founded in the name of freedom, with the mission to encourage the preservation of liberty and free thought, young Americans were compelled by conscience to resist encroachments on the freedom to think, to speak, to debate and to argue in the very places where such freedoms were once cherished, encouraged and celebrated.

This assault on basic freedoms is not unique to George Washington University, but is the norm on many campuses across America, encouraged by those who have the most to lose if freedom of inquiry is snuffed out in the name of a twisted definition of tolerance. The most valuable lesson that should be taught is that tolerance is not a one-way street. The members of the George Washington University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, like all campus groups, are as entitled to the right to think and speak as the members of Allied in Pride, no more and no less. Freedom for a few is no freedom at all.

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