No ban on Bannon

No ban on Bannon

The University of Chicago has wisely stood by its decision to invite the former Trump adviser to a debate on globalization and immigration.

Steve Bannon, the controversial campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, may or may not be participating in a debate on economic issues at the University of Chicago.

But if Bannon doesn't show up, it will be because he chooses not to do so, not because of an attempted hecklers' veto by faculty members at that prestigious academic institution.

In a tiring display of the academic rot so pervasive on today's campuses, students and faculty members complained bitterly about a decision by a professor at UC's business school to invite Bannon to participate in a debate on the economic benefits of globalization and immigration.

Frankly, that sounds pretty interesting for those who enjoy sharp and intelligent exchanges of view on important topics. But critics demanded that Bannon be disinvited because he's a bad person whose ideas — all of them, whatever they are — should not be aired publicly, least of all on the UC campus.

In an open letter to UC President Robert Zimmer, critics complained Bannon's presence would send a "chilling message" to everyone on and around the campus. Can't these authoritarians-in-training come up with a better cliche to express their repugnant view that only those whose views they share should be allowed a public platform?

At any rate, UC shot down the demand in a hurry, issuing a statement that it welcomes debate on all sides of issues and looks forward to an interesting evening filled by dynamic intellectual exchanges.

UC has been a leader nationally in defense of free speech on campus. It's one of the few institutions, along with Purdue and a handful of others, that has enthusiastically embraced a free exchange of views and indicated it will not tolerate those who try to shut down that approach.

The UC issue coincides with a similar issue at the University of Illinois College of Law. Last week, UI law Professor Francis Boyle, the Peck's bad boy of the law faculty, joined with a handful of naive and gullible students to protest the dean's decision to invite a high-ranking member of the U.S. Justice Department to the law school.

Imagine that, a prominent lawyer who holds an important position in the Justice Department speaking at a law school.

It seems like what ought to be standard operating procedure, not a source of controversy.

At any rate, Professor Boyle and his lemmings objected on the grounds the lawyer is a member of the Justice Department and President Trump oversees the Justice Department and, ... well, readers get the drift. Inviting someone like that, in Boyle's view, is just not done.

Well, sure it is, and it will be. Maybe the law students will learn something.

One of the benefits of being a college student is having the opportunity to hear from all kinds of important, prominent or controversial people who are invited to speak on campus.

Love the speakers or not, these lectures are generally interesting because they represent a unique opportunity for college students to see high-profile folks up close and make a presumably reasonable assessment of what they have to say.

Free speech foes want to put an end to that. They want to control what people are allowed to hear. They should never be allowed to do so.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion

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Glock21 wrote on January 30, 2018 at 7:01 am

Looks like Dey on crack: calling people who oppose fascists "authoritarians" - check, absolutism in free speech ignoring threats and intimidation - check, equating white nationalism to some harmless academic viewpoint a la Turning Point USA button up fascist front propaganda - check, weeping for the doom of intellectualism as they promote someone who brings intimidation tactics and threats to intellectuals and recruiting for hate groups - check and check.

Playing dumb about the fascist and violent anti-intellectualism the euphemism squad of the white nationalist movement brings with them to a campus, from threats to recruitment for hate groups is disingenuous. But at this point for him it's schtick.

This insane both sidism with the far right might be effective propaganda, but it's irresponsible journalism outside of the Weimar Republic.

David Green wrote on January 30, 2018 at 11:01 am

I was at the rally at the COL. The purpose of the rally was to counter the speech going on inside with more speech outside. It was not to prevent the speech inside. Criticizing the choice of this speaker, or the choice to have him speak without rebuttal, falls within the realm of free speech, and of respect for free speech. There was no effort to prevent the speech from happening, which it did.