Scott Yenor, a political scientist at Boise State University in Idaho, published a report with the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, tracing the history of the culture wars through ideas about sex and gender. And then everything blew up. Excerpts:
When Boise State’s School of Public Service posted Yenor’s article on its Facebook page, offended readers, including some students, demanded that it be taken down. The school’s dean, Corey Cook, then took to Facebook to defend Yenor’s academic freedom but also to criticize him personally.
Our core values as a School include the statement that “collegiality, caring, tolerance, civility and respect of faculty, staff, students and our external partners are ways of embracing diverse backgrounds, traditions, ideas and experiences.” As has been pointed out by several people in their communications with me, the particular language employed in the piece is inconsistent with that value.
Just how Yenor’s article violated the school’s core values is not made clear. The Daily Signal piece was the work of a scholar writing in a popular venue and making an argument about an important contemporary public-policy issue. That is a legitimate scholarly activity.
Francisco Salinas, the campus diversity czar, denounced Yenor as a fellow traveler of neo-Nazis. True, he said, there’s no evidence that Yenor is a neo-Nazi, but neo-Nazis would probably agree with his argument about the culture war. Ergo, there’s a
witch Nazi in our midst! More:
Salinas’s non sequitur provides the perfect illustration of a troubling trend: the effort by some students, administrators, and faculty to shut dissenting voices up through intimidation and name-calling. As of this writing, more than 2,000 have signed an online petition calling for Boise State to fire Yenor for his scholarship and related work as a public intellectual. Students have penned opinion pieces calling for his ouster, and a flyer headed “Fire Scott Yenor” is a circulating on campus. It includes an absurd bill of particulars and toward the bottom declares, in solid caps, “YOU HAVE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS SCOTT YENOR.” The rhetoric is over the top, but what Yenor’s detractors fail to do is even more troubling. They make no attempt to refute Yenor’s argument, wrestle with or consider the primary sources he is explicating, or otherwise engage in an intellectual back and forth. Denunciation now takes the place of discussion.
What the hell is wrong with Boise State University? What is wrong with American universities? The perfectly mainstream conservative commentator Ben Shapiro had to be protected as if he were a head of state when he delivered a speech this week at UC Berkeley. Cost to the school for security? $600,000. To its credit, UC Berkeley paid the money and defended free speech, but good grief, it is insane to think that any American university has to be under that kind of siege by left-wing berserkers.