On the superb Powerline blog, www.powerlineblog.com I found a reference and link to this article, Illiberal arts colleges: Pay more, get less (free speech)
I was compelled to read the article as a consequence of the thuggish Middlebury students preventing Charles Murray from speaking and physically attacking him and the liberal (ironic!) professor, Allison Stanger, who facilitated Murray’s invitation to speak at Middlebury.
I know a little about Middlebury College. I visited it many times when I was applying to colleges in 1964-1965. Even then Middlebury was an elite small liberal arts college, with many excellent professors and excellent sports teams.
I read the Reeves/Halikias article several times. I disagree with the tone of some of the article and discern, as I see it, a bias toward finding cultural conflict where it does not exist or does exist as a consequence of other biases tainted with a sense of entitlement and victimization. The assertion in the second to last sentence about the ‘class gap’ is almost nonsensical, if not a self-parody: what do the authors NOT think contributes to the class gap? They blame everything for causing it.
Nevertheless, the article is worth reading. Somewhere, in between the lines, as the saying goes, seems to be the message that these rich kids are merely brats, all too receptive to the thuggish impulse that they believe, rightly or wrongly, they can buy themselves out of when things turn very bad.
Here are some key paragraphs:
The case of Murray v. Middlebury has generated plenty of interest, and for good reason. For those who missed it, Charles Murray, a distinguished if often controversial social scientist, was prevented from speaking at Middlebury College by repeated noisy disruptions to both a public and hastily-arranged private webcast. Things turned nasty when Murray went to leave and an angry mob confronted him. Murray was pushed and shoved. His interlocutor, liberal political science professor Allison Stanger, was grabbed by the hair, and later had to be put in a neck brace in hospital. Once she and Murray managed to get inside the car, protestors banged on the doors and jumped on the hood.
The book documents the separation of a “new upper class”, raised in rich neighborhoods, immersed in liberal, cosmopolitan values, and educated at expensive, liberal universities. In other words, it profiles the students of Middlebury College.
The domination of elite institutions of higher education by the upper middle class is a big problem for social mobility, of course. It looks like it might be bad news for free speech, too.
We have crunched some numbers using data gathered by the non-partisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and found that the schools where students have attempted disinvite speakers are substantially wealthier and more expensive than average. Since 2014, there have been attempts at some 90 colleges to disinvite speakers, mostly conservatives. The average enrollee at a college where students have attempted to restrict free speech comes from a family with an annual income $32,000 higher than that of the average student in America.
The upper middle class is separating dangerously from the rest of society. This is driven in part by unfair “opportunity hoarding” mechanisms, including regressive tax expenditures, corrupt internships, and unfair zoning laws. But perhaps the greatest symbol of upper middle class separation is the elite university itself. Colleges like Middlebury—buoyed by such practices as legacy preferences in admissions—not only reflect but reinforce the continued growth of inequality.
The quintessentially liberal commitment to free and open dialogue is indispensable for building mutual understanding and respect in a diverse society. Cultural separation fueled by economic inequality, however, undermines that dialogue and respect. The spectacle of rich, “progressive” protestors refusing to hear a lecture on the roots of their own privilege; well, it tells you how much work there is to do. The class gap in American today is economic, educational and residential. Perhaps most dangerous of all, it is cultural, too. Mutual distrust across class lines is one of the causes of our current toxic politics. Greater understanding, shared learning and self-reflection are all needed now more than ever. And you don’t learn anything by shouting others down.
Read the entire article and read Powerline Blog regularly. The writers for the blog are among the most intelligent and insightful folks I have found on the Internet.