The director of Ethnic Studies at Lewis & Clark College publicly aired his outrage in the Huffington Post last week when a foreign policy student group invited a speaker to campus that he disagreed with. Elliot Young accused his college of giving a “safe space” to hate speech when they invited the Center for Immigration Studies’ Jessica Vaughan to a symposium and then closed the event to the public.
“Student organizers of an International Affairs symposium are providing a safe space for an anti-immigrant ‘hate group’ and preventing the public from attending the session out of fears of ‘anger and hostility,'” he writes.
Young admits that the symposium “has a long history of setting up debates between people who vigorously disagree with each other” and that this has benefited a climate of open-minded thought at Lewis & Clark College. But by inviting Vaughan, he writes, the college went too far.
“Debate is good and necessary, but apparently the students were not aware that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated CIS as a hate group and had not done their homework to research the group’s extremist nativist views,” he writes.
Two things: One, how is it a “safe space” if the entire symposium is set up for her to be challenged by those who disagree? Two: Why are we still pretending that the SPLC is anything other than one dude’s mail-order business gone bigtime?
Young admits that if it were up to him, Vaughan would not have been permitted to speak at all. But he says that the final insult came when organizers closed the event to the public.
“If you invite a hate group to campus and want to submit those ideas to ‘rigorous debate and headstrong questioning,’ then open the event to the public,” he writes. “Instead, the student organizers go on to say that given the controversy surrounding Vaughan’s visit, they will close this particular session to the public. All of the other sessions are open to the public; in my twenty years at the college I know of no other symposium that has ever locked out the public.”
The “public,” as it were, was allowed to watch the event on a screen in a separate room, but to Young, that wasn’t good enough. Why? Why would that be?
Well, it’s because Young thinks he and other liberal protesters should be allowed to disrupt the event and make it impossible for Vaughan to speak freely. That’s all he’s mad about. He’s using the guise of free speech to fight AGAINST free speech.
If the symposium organizers felt it necessary to close the event to the public, then people like Young only have themselves to blame. After their ilk forced conservative speakers off campus with protests and riots around the country, organizers would have to be fundamentally stupid not to respond in this way.
One last thing: Unlike the SPLC, the Center for Immigration Studies traffics in facts and numbers. If you consider those facts to be “hateful,” then your problem is not with CIS, it’s with reality.