It is clear that the free exchange of opinion that once characterized university life is now being challenged. The avatars of social justice have arrogated to themselves the role of arbiter in the university curriculum. But it hasn’t stopped there. Now monuments of the past are being put through the probity of present standards as one statue after another is in jeopardy of tumbling. Here is a foreshadowing of a “new America”, one in which the evils of the past are to be redressed by the self-appointed czars of the moment.
Where this ends isn’t clear, but I have a strong belief that the revolutionaries in our midst are intent on altering the Constitution converting it into a Red Book of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
After all, for many the First Amendment is in tatters already. Free speech no longer exists for unpopular speech or “hate speech,” even though it is precisely unpopular expression that the Constitution protects. Hate speech is loathsome, but it is protected speech precisely because any line drawn against it is arbitrary and subject to the will of the censors. Like many, I was appalled at the anticipated Nazi march through Skokie, Illinois (which never happened), but I defended the right of these barbarians to do so as First Amendment expression. As I see it, the danger of censorship was greater than the psychological damage of ugly expression.
For many Americans, the Second Amendment protecting citizens to bear arms must be modified or erased. In the minds of these revisionists guns are the problem fomenting violence in our cities. Despite the obvious point that a gun isn’t a weapon in the hands of St. Francis, but is dangerous if wielded by a felon intent on criminal behavior, gun baners rarely make distinctions.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees that due process will accompany legal charges, indictments or the sequestration of property; in other words life, liberty and property cannot be arbitrarily denied without a legal process that assures the rights of the victim. However, at many universities the due process clause is only honored in the breach. It is often sufficient for an allegation of rape or sexual abuse to be made before the accused is found culpable. Reputations are sometimes destroyed on the basis of empty allegations, but kangaroo courts of this kind have proliferated throughout higher education.
The Tenth Amendment gives to the states the powers that remain without enumeration in the other Amendments. Hence education is one such area that accrues to the state governments. Unfortunately, teachers’ unions want to consolidate power through national organizations and have been pressing in recent years for authority to be vested in the Department of Education exclusively. It is a clear and undeviating attack on federalism which has central and state governments sharing power. For extremists, the mitigating influence of the states is unnecessary.
In the aggregate these reforms and reformers constitute a revolutionary force. Their goal is to shift the organs of national power. They intend to use the vulnerability of the moment to espouse a newly created nation from the political graveyard of the past. America’s Red Guard will determine what one can believe and what is unacceptable. The Color Guard will carry the black flag of revolution and the Founders will be interred for their regressive ideas.
Welcome Comrades to the New World. You have nothing to lose, but your chains. Of course, there are chains you will wear that will be dispensed by the Party. Those who resist will be relieved of all they love. For even love itself is retrograde; either one believes, or one is ostracized. Tolerance is weakness, hate is intensity and good will is cowardice.
The world will be turned upside down with many wishing they were facing downward. For those who have seen signals of the New World, it is a dark place bereft of an enlightened Constitution.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org
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