No free speech allowed at MIT.
Today’s blacklist story illustrates how it is possible to win the battle against the petty leftist tyrants who now dominate our culture and are trying to silence free speech and destroy anyone who disagrees with them.
Dorian Abbot is an associate professor of planetary geology at the University of Chicago. Beginning in 2020 he began as a side activity posting videos advocating free speech in academia while condemning the growing oppressive movement to blackball anyone who says the “wrong” thing.
For the next year he found himself under increasing pressure from the leftist mob both at his school and outside it. His videos were taken down repeatedly by Google’s YouTube. A group of graduate students from his school wrote a letter denouncing him and demanding the school exempt all students from attending his classes while limiting his abilities to teach to a point where it was impossible. Later, in response to an op-ed Abbot co-wrote for Newsweek condemning the race-based identify politics that now dominate academia, a leftist Twitter mob came after him, demanding he be removed from all venues.
Fortunately, his superiors at the University of Chicago supported him, and refused to bow to these repressive demands. However, when Abbot was scheduled to give a lecture at MIT on his actual field of study, planetary science, “a new Twitter mob, composed of a group of MIT students, postdocs, and recent alumni, demanded that Abbot to be uninvited.”
MIT bowed to the pressure, and blackballed Abbot.
Normally in today’s culture of oppression and silencing this story would end here, with Abbott silenced at MIT and his job at the University of Chicago threatened.
Instead, academia did something it has not been willing to do much in recent years, defend freedom and Abbot’s right to speak. The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics at Princeton University immediately contacted Abbot and offered to broadcast his lecture on Zoom, on the very day MIT had scheduled it. That lecture is available here if you wish to watch.
More important, at MIT there has been a growing backlash against the university for its cowardice and willingness to bow to thugs. Two alumni wrote an op-ed condemning MIT in exceedingly blunt language, not just for its cancellation of Abbot but for its overall allegiance to variations of Marxist Critical Race Theory. In their op-ed they announced they were withdrawing their financial support and added:
Pointing out MIT’s lapses and withdrawing our financial support of the offending institution is insufficient. We would like to suggest a way for MIT to return to our good graces and hope it will consider adopting the following principles of fairness.
First, facts are not racist, and stating facts is not racism. Second, a person’s ethnicity or skin color does not define him or her as a racist, oppressor, or victim. Third, intellectual ability and achievement are the principal requirements for admission as a student or faculty member to any university. Fourth, diversity of opinions is desired and supported. Fifth, a just, democratic society requires equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal responsibility; it does not require equal outcomes. And finally, adherence to the statements above must not be sacrificed for political, social, or public relations considerations.
These truths used to be self-evident; now they are apparently controversial. MIT and other universities must make a choice: Will they redeem themselves by standing for merit and truth, or will they forfeit the support of countless alumni and donors by surrendering to wokeness?
Nor were these two alumni alone. A group of 73 MIT faculty members followed with their own letter, demanding that the administration to once again support free speech without qualifications.
The faculty suggest[ed] the adoption of the Chicago Statement, which states, in part: “[T]he University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn,” and that “it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”
Soon thereafter came the formation of the MIT Free Speech Alliance, aimed at forcing these changes at MIT.
It remains unclear whether this pushback for freedom at MIT will have any positive results. Nonetheless, it shows us our proper course for the future. Freedom is under attack at all levels in America today. Standing by and making believe it isn’t happening, or that it doesn’t involve you so you can ignore it, is no longer acceptable. Americans must now stand up loudly to defend those who are being attacked, and aggressively work to end this oppressive leftist movement’s effort to shut down open debate.
If Americans fail to do this, the future will be quite grim for everyone. Our society will be taken over by a close-minded, hateful collection of bullies, and life will become a living hell for all.