We often write about the erosion of freedom in the West. This post points to some hopeful exceptions. Some people of stature are speaking truth, openly countering the political, academic, and communication elites. Those who bully ordinary citizens into political correctness and culturally relativity are being confronted with growing boldness by leaders who are rediscovering the ability to speak truth.
Let’s start with the scientific community. Evolutionism is a private club of Western universities. Membership requires subscribing to a naturalistic set of assumptions, principally the theory that nature is the only reality. You must agree to follow the facts only as far as the boundaries of naturalism permits. No transcendent reality is allowed, no dissent tolerated!
This mindset reminds me of the late communist Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book.” All Chinese were required to read and study Chairman Mao’s thoughts. Disagreement was forbidden. Dissenters were forced into re-education camps and executed if they remained recalcitrant.
Anyone who questions evolutionism’s assumptions or seeks to follow evidence outside the naturalistic boundaries risks expulsion from the club. To get an idea of what this looks like watch Ben Stein’s satirical film, “Expelled.” Stein’s documentary explores the limits of academic freedom in the arena of science.
But now, many credentialed scientists have begun to openly express their doubts about the Darwinian model. A growing number (currently over 950) have signed a document titled “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.” These scientists affirm that “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
However, it is not only the science world that limits academic freedom. Many American universities which at their founding were bastions of free speech no longer tolerate the same. Today speech is confined to the politically correct and the morally and culturally relative.
The free-speech advocates of the 1960’s are now tenured faculty at major universities. These who once fought for free speech as youth are now fundamentalist atheists who stifle inquiry and expression. What irony! What hypocrisy!
Dr. Ben Carson, the neuro-pediatrician who first successfully separated twins conjoined at the head, taught and practiced at Johns Hopkins University for years. In May 2014 Carson was forced to cancel his commencement address because, in an earlier interview on TV, he had dared to speak of the link between homosexuality, pedophilia and bestiality. Similarly, Rutger’s University, long a citadel of free speech and academic freedom, invited US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at the commencement ceremony. But student and faculty protests against Rice’s support of the Iraq War forced the hand of the administration which finally reversed the invitation. So much for free speech.
Thankfully, just as some scientists are pushing back against the tyranny of evolutionism, other academics are resisting the suppression of the same free speech which is critical for universities to thrive. Two such dissenters are University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and his colleague, Provost Eric D. Isaacs. In July 2014 these administrators appointed a Committee on Freedom of Expression “in light of recent events nationwide that have tested institutional commitments to free and open discourse.” The committee’s report was published January 6, 2015.
The report excerpts the 1902 speech of then university president William Rainey Harper declaring that “the principle of complete freedom of speech on all subjects has from the beginning been regarded as fundamental in the University of Chicago … this principle can neither now nor at any future time be called in question.” While the report has its flaws, it nonetheless is commencing a long-needed discussion on the fundamental role of academic freedom and free speech on a university campus.
Two more events in January suggest a new spring of freedom.
On January 16th, following the deadly jihadist attacks in Paris, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls repudiated the Obama administration’s attempted censorship of explicit condemnation of radical Islamists. “I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia,’” Valls declared, “because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is used to silence people.”
Valls took the discussion to a further level. Because of growing hatred of Jews (anti-Semitism is the more politically correct term) in France, thousands of Jews are emigrating. Prime Minister Valls had the audacity to say that “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France.” He regards his nation free and pluralistic; if Jews are forced to leave, France will no longer be free and pluralistic. It will no longer be France.
The second occasion that gives hope that a new wind is blowing took place on January 19th in London. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal spoke at the Henry Jackson Society at the House of Commons. Jindal courageously spoke the truth about Muslim immigrant communities. He said they are trying to “colonize Western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that.”
Some Muslim enclaves in European and North American cities are considered “no go zones.” Often even the city police are afraid to enter these neighborhoods. Women dare not appear unveiled. Sharia holds sway; the laws of the country or municipality don’t apply. Female genital mutilation is practiced. Young girls are raped and sold as brides. Notwithstanding such hideous realities, the politically correct media often speak of “imaginary” or “so-called” no go zones. Jindal continues, “I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away.”
In post-modern culture you can deny reality and the problem disappears. If you say it isn’t so, it isn’t so! There is no room for appealing to truth (because there is no absolute truth), no place for the facts.
To the scientists who have dissented from Darwin, to the University of Chicago administration, to Prime Minister Valls, and to Governor Jindal … thanks for your willingness to push back against the tyranny of the politically correct.
May a new generation of free thinkers arise, people who are willing, for the sake of truth, to think outside the box of academic and politically correct tradition, and thus help preserve human freedom.
- Darrow Miller with Gary Brumbelow
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