There seems to be a serious disconnect nowadays between what conservatives are, and what they are accused of being.
Campus leftists thoughtlessly dub conservatives “racists” and “homophobes,” and regularly fling those epithets on both conservative students and right-leaning speakers who come to campus.
This misunderstanding of conservative values is deeply unfortunate, and it comes amid a growing tendency on American college campuses to shut down debate and villainize those with whom the status quo disagrees.
One campus conservative group, the Hood College Republicans, decided to push back on the trend and to re-engage their campus.
In an attempt to reopen dialogue and clearly convey their beliefs, the group’s members created a display on campus with various quotes and graphics describing conservative values.
The display admittedly hit on some controversial issues. Students and faculty were particularly concerned over a quote from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, which stated of transgender people, “Biology is biology; men can’t magically become women and women can’t magically become men.”
Students and faculty members called the display “hateful” and “propaganda.” The president of Hood College wrote in an email that a review will take place to see if the display violates college rules, citing that it is possible for the Hood College Republicans to receive sanctions.
In a statement released by Hood College Republicans, the group expressed deep concern over the administration’s response to its display:
The handling of the situation by the school has demonstrated the extreme bias against free speech and diversity of thought for conservative views on campus, saying that the espousing of such views was offensive and dangerous. The administration has also tried to claim that we have been committing harassment and discrimination simply by expressing such views on paper. Our members have personally received violent threats from members of the Hood Community and have been regularly targeted online, with many on and off campus citing us as a hate group.
This story, like so many others we hear from college campuses today, underscores the true extent to which the First Amendment is under attack at American universities.
The reality of politically correct campus culture does not always come in large violent protests as we saw at Berkeley or Middlebury. The more frequent reality is conservative viewpoints, such as those advertised by Hood College Republicans, being quietly forced out.
For example, Peter Wood recently wrote for The Federalist that a professor at Springfield College is being forced out for teaching a course on “Men in Literature,” which did not sit well with campus feminists.
It should go without saying that students at Hood College, and at every college, must have their First Amendment rights protected. This basic freedom guaranteed by our Constitution should be respected in all areas of American life.
Teaching the importance of such freedoms should be a top priority for our American universities, which used to serve as laboratories for democratic thought and factories of an educated citizenry.
But today, our universities’ main product appears to be thought-followers, not thought-leaders.
As students and faculty appear to be doubling down on their war against free speech, university administrators must stand firm to protect the most basic constitutional rights of their students.
After all, the true test of free speech is how well we tolerate those we most disagree with.