Charles Murray was heckled and interrupted again, this time at the University of Villanova, where students formed a “silent protest” that was anything but.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) took a video of the scene (see below), which is worth watching for several reasons.
Much of the video is standard fare: A group of intellectually insecure students heckle and interrupt Murray, accusing him of being a white supremacist who hates women and workers. Presumably lacking the intellectual chops to engage Murray, a preeminent political scientist who holds degrees from MIT and Harvard, the students resort to theatrics.
The protestors, oddly enough, seem keenly aware that their protest is a mere theatrical performance:
“Applause, applause,” one agitator implores as he’s escorted out (4:10 mark). “Applaud us, please!”
I thought the best part of the clip would surely be when a security guard arrives (2:55 mark) and inadvertently begins to take Murray by the elbow, presumably to escort him out. But I was wrong.
The best of the video is when, after the protest had moved outdoors, a middle-aged socialist mechanic arrives, gets ahold of a megaphone, and delivers a message to these young firebrands:
“I just wanted to add a few words. I am with the Socialist Workers Party. I have been a mechanic for many years. And I’m opposed to shutting people down because of their views, whether it’s Murray, Obama, Trump. I think we need to debate them.”
At this point the agitator who had begged for applause began to interrupt the worker, perhaps feeling that the upstart was stealing his thunder. But a member of the audience yelled, “Keep talkin’!” So the mechanic did:
“We need to educate ourselves to be able to debate the views that Murray puts forth. When we shut them down, we can’t have that debate.”
We lived in a very polarized time, both politically and ideologically. Many people find views and ideas that run counter to their own not just wrong, but abhorrent.
The solution to the polarization is not to silence those with opposing views, but to engage them. Reason and discourse are the right and proper tools to expose falsehood. In an age inundated in information and propaganda, we need them more than ever.
“Reason,” the German thinker Erick Fromm once observed, “is man’s instrument for arriving at the truth.”
Those who rely on theatrics to suppress the free expression of ideas reveal not the righteousness of their cause but a deficiency in reasoning and rhetoric.