The Students Were RIGHT, Middlebury College is WRONG!
Charles Murray and His Ilk Should Absolutely Be Shut Down and Driven from Campuses

by Sunsara Taylor

May 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Tuesday, May 23, Middlebury College announced that it is sanctioning 67 students who participated in shutting down and driving the proven racist Charles Murray off their campus earlier this year. This punishment is wrong and must be condemned. Not only is this punishment wrong towards the students, it sets a very dangerous and chilling precedent against future student protests at a time when vigorous protest and resistance is more needed than ever. The students did the right thing. This punishment should not stand.

The Students’ Right to Free Speech Is Being Violated, NOT that of Charles Murray

In the wake of the students’ righteous shutdown of Charles Murray, there was a tidal wave of condemnations not just from reactionaries but also from many progressives who should’ve known better. Almost all claimed that Murray’s right to “free speech” had been violated by the students. This flips reality on its head.

The First Amendment protects the people from government suppression of their right to speak and to assemble in protest. The students were not trying to pass any laws preventing Murray from speaking or to put him in prison. They do not have state power. In contrast, Murray is backed by powerful institutions. The American Enterprise Institute, where Murray works and whose student arm sponsored his event, has an annual budget of $46 million; its alumni include Antonin Scalia, Dick Cheney, and Newt Gingrich. Murray is hardly wanting for public platforms or the ability to get his views heard.

The students, however, have no such powerful institutional backing. They also—by challenging white supremacy and the psuedo-science that tries to justify it—are going up against widely-promoted racist ideas that have saturated this country since its founding in slavery. They used their voices, their bodies, and their sense of moral responsibility to condemn white supremacy and bigotry, giving voice to views that have frequently been maligned and suppressed. It is they who were exercising their right to speak and who are now being wrongly punished for exercising this right.

A Rising Tide of White Supremacy

Charles Murray peddles dangerous, thoroughly-debunked, intellectually dressed-up white supremacy. His most famous book, The Bell Curve, claims that Black people are inherently less intelligent than whites. Despite being chock-full of inaccuracies and anti-scientific methods, this book was widely promoted, legitimized, and used in the 1990s as a key justification for government slashing of policies and services, destroying millions of lives.

Murray’s re-emergence today cannot be separated from the rising tide of white supremacy sweeping the country under Trump. A KKK-style torchlight march, chanting Nazi slogans, was held in Virginia against the removal of a Confederate statue. In Mississippi, a state representative wrote on his Facebook page that people who remove Confederate statues “should be LYNCHED.” Jeff Sessions, head of the “Justice” Department, has reinstituted mandatory minimum sentencing against non-violent “criminals.” These mandatory minimums are part of what caused the genocidal spike in mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, accurately named the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

Standing up against and shutting down proponents of racism like Murray is not about suppressing speech, it is about standing up to white supremacy and the raw assertion of the state and the mob to enforce that white supremacy. It is righteous and it is needed more and more each day.

Ideas That Have Been Proven Wrong and Harmful Should NOT Be Endlessly Engaged

It is a very important principle that ideas—especially ideas that are new, poorly known, or which challenge established orthodoxies and/or ruling institutions—should be heard and put forward by their most ardent advocates. It is also important that ideas be taken on in the realm of ideas and answered with substance. However, this principle is not—nor can it be—absolute. Not every idea can be endlessly debated (there is not endless time or resources to do this), and attempting to do so actually stands in the way of advancing knowledge overall.


Does anyone really think, for example, that the idea of a flat earth should continue to be debated in science? What about Holocaust denial? Climate change denial? Obviously not! When ideas have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, it is time to close the debate and move on. Further, when debunked ideas cause tremendous social harm but continue to be promoted by powerful institutions whose interests those debunked ideas serve, it is right for people who lack that kind of power to put themselves on the line and shut them down. This applies to the thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, racist ideas of Charles Murray.

The Fight for the Campuses—Key in the Fight for the Future

The punishment of students at Middlebury is part of a growing clampdown on students, academics, and intellectual discourse that challenges the fascist direction this country is dragged in, now by the Trump/Pence Regime in power.

Powerful institutions are funneling millions of dollars into backing fascists like Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, and others to spew their poison, normalize their bigotry, and whip up foot-soldiers on campuses nationwide. McCarthyite Professor Watchlists have been drawn up against professors who challenge white supremacy, patriarchy, and the ruling-class narrative of “American Greatness.” And, students who stand up against this are being increasingly demonized and punished. Right now, several states are considering legislation that would legally mandate the punishment—including, in some cases, expulsion—of students who dare to disrupt a campus speaker. Just a week ago, Vice President Mike Pence made condemning disruptive student protests a central theme while giving the commencement address at Notre Dame.

The fascists are targeting the campuses precisely because they rely on the assertion of reactionary myths—LIES—which they do not want challenged. They fear critical thinking. And they fear the role that students have often played in challenging injustice and oppression—from the Freedom Rides to the fight against the Vietnam War to the waves of protests following Trump’s election to the righteous shut-downs of Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, and others in recent months. These fascists see the pacification of the campuses as a key step in consolidating fascism in America.

All this underscores even more profoundly the righteousness of what the students at Middlebury did and the illegitimacy and dangerous precedent of them being punished. The Middlebury protesters should be upheld, defended, and their righteous spirit should be spread. As white supremacy rides high and the fascist Trump/Pence Regime moves fast to remake the laws, attack the press, and knock down any who would stand up against them, many, many more people from all walks of life need to join in raising their voices and putting their bodies, their careers, and their reputations on the line to drive fascists off their campuses, out of their towns, and out of the White House.


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