Leading Ivy League Professors, Cornel West and Robert George, Oppose Efforts to Silence Unpopular Political Speech on College Campuses

(PHOTO: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)
College professor Cornel West arrives for the Time 100 Gala in New York, May 5, 2009.

In the aftermath of the attack on a conservative speaker and professor at Vermont’s Middlebury College, two leading Ivy league professors from both sides of the political aisle have come together to assert that efforts to silence unpopular political speech on college campuses should be opposed by all.

Robert George, a conservative Catholic law professor at Princeton University, and Cornel West, a prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America who has held professorships at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, signed onto a joint statement calling for people on university campuses to respectfully engage with people who challenge their own political views.

On March 2, a Middlebury professor suffered a concussion and was hospitalized after protesters shoved her, pulled her hair and twisted her neck while she escorted Libertarian sociologist Dr. Charles Murray out of the on-campus auditorium after his speech was shut down because of protesters banging on the windows and pulling the fire alarm.

The incident marked the latest example of how liberal college students and activists have displayed intolerance by shouting down and disrupting scheduled on-campus speaking engagements of controversial conservative speakers.

While there might not be much that West and George can agree on politically, they both agree that everyone has the right to let their opinions be heard in a society that believes in the free exchange of ideas and issued a joint statement on Tuesday titled “Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression.”

“The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth,” the statement reads. “These virtues will manifest themselves and be strengthened by one’s willingness to listen attentively and respectfully to intelligent people who challenge one’s beliefs and who represent causes one disagrees with and points of view one does not share.”

“That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree — especially on college and university campuses,” the professors added.

One of the first people to join George and West in signing the statement is Allison Stranger, the Middlebury College professor who suffered the concussion when when she escorted Murray out of the campus building. The statement has also been signed by a number of other scholars.

(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST/SAMUEL SMITH)
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Chairman Robert George speaks during a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing in Washington, D.C. on April 19, 2016.

“None of us is infallible. Whether you are a person of the left, the right, or the center, there are reasonable people of goodwill who do not share your fundamental convictions,” the statement reads. “This does not mean that all opinions are equally valid or that all speakers are equally worth listening to. It certainly does not mean that there is no truth to be discovered. Nor does it mean that you are necessarily wrong. But they are not necessarily wrong either.”

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Samuel Smith