Don't let them gaslight you: Freedom of speech was always under attack on campus

For months, we've seen an explosion of anti-Semitism on college campuses, masked by the absurd propaganda that they're nothing but peaceful anti-war protests.

Setting aside how ridiculous this argument is given that Jews are being beaten on campus, Jewish professors and students are being blocked from public buildings, and there are calls left and right for Jewish organizations to be driven from college life ... make sure you don't miss another layer to this propaganda: The idea that everything was just fine before Israel dared to defend itself against terrorism.

Here's one example from The Associated Press:

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Stephen Hawking on the Big Bang. Millions of students for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.

They were provocative in their times, products of an ideal that holds universities as sacrosanct spaces for debate, innovation — and even revolution. But Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the resulting war in Gaza are testing that perception, as anger over the brutal military campaign collides with election-year politics and concerns about antisemitism in places where freedom of expression is supposed to rule.

Again, let's ignore the description of modern-day pogroms as an expression of "anger" over a "brutal military campaign" (despite Israel reportedly demonstrating the "lowest civilian-to-combatant casualty ratio in history") and that the rampant anti-Semitism on campus is being addressed by apparent "concerns," notice the whopper here: college campuses are "where freedom of expression is supposed to rule."

Oh really?!

There are two problems here. First off, for the third time now, you have to accept that violence and threats of violence against Jews fall under the remit of freedom of speech (newsflash: they don't). But second, since when were college campuses ruled by freedom of expression?

If these colleges were actual havens for freedom of speech, why have conservative speakers been hounded on campuses for years? I had a speech on freedom of speech shouted down by college students at SUNY Albany last year.

Where were the same hand-wringing concerns about freedom of expression then?

What about in 2022, when Harvard University announced to students that "using wrong pronouns" constituted "abuse," and that students may be subject to disciplinary proceedings for wrong-speak like "sizeism," "fatphobia," "cisheterosexism," and "ableism"? Was the First Amendment on sabbatical?

The fact is that freedom of expression on college campuses has been on life support for years (if not decades). To pretend that debatable efforts to quell the spread of anti-Semitism are the first example of freedom of speech being under attack ignores the fact that anything amounting to Western, conservative, or Christian thought has been routinely dismissed, suppressed, or hounded off campus long before the latest resurgence of anti-Semitic sentiment in academia.

Don't let them gaslight you: they never cared about freedom of expression. They just are about their freedom of expression.

Follow Ian on Substack and X (@ighaworth).

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Not the Bee or any of its affiliates.

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