Thomas Sowell’s latest column highlights the intolerant left. This isn’t an indictment of all liberals. In fact, I’d argue that it’s an indictment of hardline progressives, not liberals. When Howard Dean said that “This is a battle between good and evil and we’re the good”, he meant it. He really viewed conservatives as evil. That’s what’s inspiring the people Dr. Sowell wrote about:

An all-too-familiar scene was enacted on the campus of Swarthmore College during a meeting on May 4 to discuss demands by student activists for the college to divest itself of its investments in companies that deal in fossil fuels. As a speaker was beginning a presentation to show how many millions of dollars such a disinvestment would cost the college, student activists invaded the meeting, seized the microphone, and shouted down a student who rose in the audience to object.

Although there were professors and administrators in the room, including the college president, apparently nobody had the guts to put a stop to these storm-trooper tactics. Nor is it likely that there will be any punishment of those who put their own desires above the rights of others. On the contrary, these students went on to demand mandatory campus “teach-ins,” and the administration caved on that demand. Among their other demands are that courses on ethnic studies, and on gender and sexuality, be made a requirement for graduation.

It isn’t a secret that political correctness runs rampant on college campuses. It isn’t even a secret that these activists/barbarians/thugs target conservatives. See Ann Coulter and Karl Rove about that.

What hasn’t been talked about is the need to stand up to these activists/thugs. I don’t propose stripping these activists’ First Amendment rights. That’s censorship, which I can’t support. What I’m advocating is for people to stand up to these activists/thugs, then verbally embarass these activists/thugs in public.

I learned early in life that the best protection against loud-mouthed bullies isn’t defensive in nature. The best protection is giving bullies a bloody nose. Letting thugs know that you aren’t backing down gives them something extra to think about.

Another analogy is a basketball team bringing the ball up against a full-court press. As long as the team doesn’t exploit the weakness of the press, the defensive team doesn’t have an incentive to stop pressing. Exploiting a press’s weakness leads to easy layups in short order. Suddenly, the cost of pressing is too high.

Translating that into dealing with these activists/thugs is simple. Putting them on the spot, then ridiculing them, is a way to send the message that you aren’t putting up with their crap. A perfect response might be “So you think only you have the right to speak? Who elected you dictator? What makes you think that your opinions are better or more important than mine?”

Back in the 1960s, the University of Chicago was a rare exception. As Professor George J. Stigler, a Nobel Prize–winning economist, put it in his memoirs, “our faculty united behind the expulsion of a large number of young barbarians.”

The sky did not fall. There was no bloodbath. The University of Chicago was in fact spared some of the worst nonsense that more compliant institutions were permanently saddled with in the years that followed as a result of their failure of nerve in the ’60s.

In short, they stood up to the activists/thugs. Not only did they survive, they won the fight. The key is to let these activists/thugs know that they can’t win by being thugs. They’ll have to win on the merits of their ideas. That thought frightens them. In fact, if they thought they could win on the merits, that’s what they’d do.

This paragraph should frighten people:

It’s not just academics who won’t defend decency. Trustees could fire college presidents who cave in to storm-trooper tactics. Donors could stop donating to institutions that have sold out their principles to appease the campus barbarians. But when nobody is willing to defend civilized standards, the barbarians win.

This quote should be must reading for people who’ve been pressured by activistss/thugs:

All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

When activists/thugs do a hostile takeover of a room, that’s evil. That’s the time to confront the activists. That’s when they need to get the message that their tactics (stunts, intimidation?) won’t help them win the fight they’re picking. Only then can order be restored.

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