Opinions

Political Science Professor Responds to Mac Donald Lecture Protests

David Lewis Schaefer
Professor of Political Science

November 22, 2019

To the Editors of The Spire:

The planned occupation of a large block of seats in the Seelos Theater by members of the Black Student Union at Heather Mac Donald’s November 18 lecture on “The Diversity Delusion,” followed by the group’s mass exit (while shouting slogans) shortly after her talk began – all designed to exclude some 80 or more students and faculty who actually wanted to hear the talk from entering the room – indeed “sent a powerful message,” as The Spire’s story observes. It is a message that far from espousing genuine diversity, i.e., a diversity of viewpoints, the so-called diversity movement favors only homogeneity: agree with us or else we will do our best to prevent you from letting your views be heard. Such intolerance is the very opposite of what a genuine intellectual community is supposed to be engaged in. And it demonstrates for all eyes on campus the truth of Ms. Mac Donald’s contention that the demands now made in the name of diversity are indeed a delusion.

It is to Holy Cross’s credit that, unlike what has happened on other campuses to speakers like Ms. Mac Donald and others who challenge the prevailing “politically correct” consensus, she was at least allowed to speak here, albeit it to a shamefully restricted audience – despite threatening rumors that had spread about potential forcible interference with her talk. But it is deeply lamentable that, encouraged (I presume) by some members of the administration and faculty, members of the BSU has come to pride themselves on blocking or restricting the expression of points of view with which they differ. This was the same principle on which the Hitler Youth acted in the 1930’s – even if those who now espouse it at this college have (so far) limited themselves to peaceable methods of action.

Clearly, Holy Cross has failed to inculcate in these students a proper appreciation of the meaning and purpose of liberal education – i.e., the education in serious thinking, rooted in the study of classic as well as contemporary books and the open interchange of opposing ideas that prepares one to live the life of a genuinely free human being. (It was precisely the sort of education, as Ms. Mac Donald observed, that was advocated by the great African-American leaders Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. DuBois.)

The fault, dear colleagues and administrators, lies largely, I fear, in ourselves. It would indeed be desirable if, as The Spire story speculates, the BSU action generates “changes” – that is a movement, by way of reaction, towards a renewed appreciation of genuine liberal education and academic freedom.

Sincerely,

David Lewis Schaefer
Professor of Political Science

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