Following up on my previous post, Conservative Law Prof Heckled by CUNY Protestors: Michael Simkovic (USC), A Well-Organized Campaign to Bait, Discredit, and Take Over Universities Is Exploiting Students and Manipulating the Public:
- Many lectures about “free speech” are not really about “free speech,” but rather are intended to provoke a reaction that will discredit universities.
- When such reactions occur, many news stories about them are created, shaped, and disseminated by a well-funded network that wants to transform and take over universities.
- Students, professors, administrators should not take the bait; nor should journalists. ...
The purpose of media exaggeration of incidents at universities appears to be to discredit universities in the eyes of conservatives, libertarians, and moderates. The anti-university campaign is working. Pew reports that individuals who lean Republican have traditionally held mostly positive views of universities, but those views became less favorable after 2010, and turned sharply negative around 2015 to 2016. ...
The anti-university campaign appears to be supported by a network of organizations funded by wealthy conservatives and libertarians including the Koch Brothers. ...
Republican resentment toward universities is evident at the national level. Recent legislation increased taxes on universities while leaving other 501(c)(3) educational organizations such as think tanks unscathed.
Universities face a well-funded, well-organized, and cynical campaign to discredit them. It would be prudent to teach students to express their views without providing fodder for those who seek to use them for propaganda. The most effective way to counter the campaign against universities may be to share information through a resource such as Sourcewatch, and then schedule more interesting, possibly unrelated events to compete with provocateurs. Few things discourage would-be provocateurs more than empty seats. Those who feel they must protest should do so in a quiet, gracious manner that emphasizes human dignity and mutual respect. Universities should strive to welcome those with different values and avoid even a hint of political coercion.
When students are goaded into tactical mistakes, journalists should ask themselves whether mean-spirited provocations by seasoned political operatives preying on vulnerable teenagers and inexperienced young adults genuinely deserve news coverage. The United States faces serious economic challenges which get far less attention than this stage-managed political theater.
I have had the privilege of teaching, learning from, working with and befriending decent people of all political persuasions over the years. It disappoints me to see some of them allow themselves to be used as cannon fodder in a misguided war against education.