By Anthony Ramirez
On February 6, 2019, the Student Life independent newspaper of Washington University published an article by staff writer Sean Lundergan, "It's OK that conservatives don't feel welcome." 1 The entirety of the article has Lundergan calling the conservative view "not fit for the public forum," comparing allowing their speech to accepting "chemists to talk seriously about alchemy," and that "their ideas add little value to our discourse." Look at that again, "our discourse."
Perhaps the most damning evidence of this need to not hear the conservative perspective is this: "Conservative ideas do not deserve equal consideration to that afforded liberal and left ideas, because conservative ideas are not equal to liberal and left ideas. There is no legitimate argument for supporting Donald Trump and his allies, at least not one that holds up in any academic community worth its salt." Freedom of speech does not mean equal consideration; it means equal opportunity to voice that speech. If people openly want to silence a political view, you are already infringing on the first amendment that helped build this country.
In a study by Jerry Zheng of OneClass where 1,500 students from 207 schools were polled, results found that students considering themselves Republicans felt much more uncomfortable voicing their opinions on campuses. 2 Some of the findings were that 37.5% of Republicans felt unsafe on campus because of their political views, compared to 11.5% of Democrats; 55.1% of Republicans hid their political views from friends, compared to 15.5% of Democrats; and that both Democrats and moderates polled believed Republicans were welcomed on campus less than them.
The College Fix published the findings of another poll based on 1,000 Republican or Republican-leaning college students using College Pulse. 3 73% of students who viewed themselves as "strong Republicans" and 71% of "weak Republicans" admitted to withholding their political views out of fear of their grades suffering. This is because professors on college campuses are dominantly left-wing. A study published in Econ Journal Watch in 2016 found that a ratio of left-wing professors to right-wing professors was 11.5 to 1. 4 The study gathered data from the professors of 40 top universities in several fields, checked their voter registration, and found that 3,623 were Democrats, compared to 314 Republicans. Journalism/Communication (20 to 1), History (33.5 to 1), and Psychology (17.4 to 1) had the most significant gaps between left and right-wing professors teaching the subjects.
As we're on the topic of polls, it was found in a poll by Cato Institute this year that more people self-censor their political beliefs now in 2020 than in 2017: "Although strong liberals are the only group who feel they can say what they believe, the share who feel pressured to self‐censor rose 12 points from 30% in 2017 to 42% in 2020. The share of moderates who self‐censor increased 7 points from 57% to 64% and the share of conservatives rose 70% to 77%, also a 7‐point increase. Strong conservatives are the only group with little change. They are about as likely now (77%) to say they hold back their views as in 2017 (76%)." 5 Based on this national survey, we can see that over three-fourths of conservatives who participated felt a need to self-censor their political views, compared to less than half of liberals.
There are also constant attempts to shut down speeches by right-wingers at college campuses. Before a Michael Knowles speech at California State University, Los Angeles, a student had his MAGA hat knocked off his head by another student playing the "FDT" song by YG and Nipsey Hussle. 6 A student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City shot an unknown substance from a squirt gun at Michael Knowles as several students were in the audience were distracting the speaker. 7
Right-wing speaker Ben Shapiro has had several of his speeches be shut down through violence. According to the Los Angeles Times, nine people were arrested at his speech for UC Berkeley. This was after the 2017 Berkeley protests that caused Milo Yiannopoulos's speech at the university to be canceled, who also had a speech shut down a year prior at DePaul University (which was deemed Yiannopoulos's fault by the university, despite the protesters taking over the stage to cease the event). 8 9 10
Conservative students sued the University of Minnesota for changing the location of Shapiro's speech to a place that fit half the original crowd size with the reason being "safety concerns." 11 Comedian and right-wing commentator Steven Crowder released a YouTube video where an employee on his channel went undercover to infiltrate Antifa and found evidence of Antifa bringing weapons to a Shapiro speech at the University of Utah. 12 The video shows the undercover employee getting handed an ice pick and one person claiming to have an assault rifle and sawed-off shotgun (to be fair, I'm not sure all of this would be enough to withstand the might of the apparently Hulk-like Ben Shapiro). One of the people in the video was later arrested for assault. 13
The political scientist Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, who's considered by some to be conservative, was invited to Middlebury College to speak. Professor Allison Stanger of the university was there to moderate the Q&A session. Unfortunately, the event became disastrous. 14 According to a blog post by Murray on the event, he and Stanger were surrounded by protesters as they approached a car they took to dinner with faculty and students. 15 Stager was injured during the altercation. In a Facebook post she allowed Inside Higher ED to use for their article on the incident, she stated: "One thug grabbed me by the hair, and another shoved me in a different direction. I noticed signs with expletives and my name on them. There was also an angry human on crutches, and I remember thinking to myself, 'What are you doing? That's so dangerous!' For those of you who marched in Washington the day after the inauguration, imagine being in a crowd like that, only being surrounded by hatred rather than love. I feared for my life." 16 A video of Murray's speech can be watched here: 17
These examples (there's several more) show that attempts to shut down right-wing speakers at colleges are not only disrespectful to the speakers and students willing to listen but are known to become violent. I've always found it odd in this political climate that the people accusing others of fascism are simultaneously attempting to block speeches through physical means, that the people saying colleges should be a "safe space" are also openly saying they're fine with people of other views being afraid to voice them. The people continually asking for diversity, refusing to have intellectual diversity on their campus.
And I can already see the "Well your organization is for silencing socialists!" on the horizon, but rest assured, it's actually the contrary. The purpose of Young Americans Against Socialism is to inform people about the terrible conditions socialism has placed so many countries and its citizens in. The number of deaths from political prisoners and nonconforming citizens by firing squads or gulags, the opposite mentality of what's made America the country hundreds of thousands flock to every year, the "Well it'll work this time!" that's prevalent in the ideology of socialism in America can't be revealed unless more speak about it; whether for or against it. Breaking down viewpoints to look for previous examples of its successes or failures in the past, determining the factors that brought about the outcome, seeing what would improve or worsen the situation, these are the things political discourse is for.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is a prominent example of the values the United States of America has. The ability to speak on topics freely is taken for granted by Americans today, particularly college students, and the more we ask for censorship of opinions we disagree with, the more we see the indoctrination of only one political view as being acceptable to have, the less we'll know that ability and core American value exists in this country.
Anthony Ramirez is a proud Latino Texan who has worked with his community on physical fitness to better their hearts and writes articles to better their minds. Anthony writes and researches to get out the facts and disprove misinformation. Anthony has researched, and debunked myths regarding Herbalife, student loan debt, UBI, and he looks to do the same with socialism.