The rise of leftist censorship at American universities has been one of the most disturbing stories to emerge over the last five years. We’ve seen conservative students ostracized and violently attacked, we’ve seen conservative speakers de-platformed and shunned, and we’ve even seen college campuses turned into riotous war zones by masked Antifa hooligans who can’t bear to hear a word of any speech that disagrees with their twisted worldview. Worst of all, we’ve watched as deans, professors, and academics have been forced out of their jobs because they did not comply with this dangerous new species of mob-driven groupthink.
The violent assault of Hayden Williams at the University of California at Berkeley was perhaps not the worst example of this tragic form of leftist fascism, but in its videotaped brutality, it finally inspired action. Speaking alongside Williams at CPAC this year, President Donald Trump vowed to force universities to respect freedom of speech if they wanted to continue receiving federal funding.
On Thursday, Trump made good on that promise.
Trump signed an executive order promoting free speech and threatening colleges with the loss of research money if they did not adhere to the First Amendment. The text of the order declares it the policy of the federal government to “encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions.”
In remarks at the signing ceremony, President Trump said, “We’re here to take historic action to defend American students and American values. They’ve been under siege.
“In America, the very heart of the university’s mission is preparing students for life as citizens in a free society,” the president continued. “Even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and the First Amendment. You see it all the time. You turn on the news and you see things that are horrible.
“Under the guise of speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans like those here today,” he said. “All of that changes starting right now. Taxpayer dollars should not subsidize anti-First Amendment institutions. And that’s exactly what they are: anti-First Amendment. Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech, not silence free speech.”
It remains to be seen whether or not this executive order will actually have any real-world effects worth chronicling; it may be as much a symbolic gesture as it is a game-changer. Even so, it is a warning shot from the federal government, and you’d better believe that they are hearing it loud and clear at some of America’s most “progressive” universities. The time to push back on these havens of censorship is now, and it’s gratifying to have a president willing to lead the charge.