Liberals and the illiberal left

As FIRE notes, not only are disinvitation incidents on campus rising, but so too is the “success rate” for such incidents. FIRE statistics indicate that disinvitation incidents are almost three times as likely to target speakers perceived as conservative (including those, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who would angrily disavow such a label for themselves) as those perceived as liberal or left. The campus left is reviving, and liberal university administrators are surrendering to them.

Jonathan Chait deplores the political correctness of the political left for contradicting its most fundamental values. Liberals are, well, liberal; political correctness is fundamentally and often radically illiberal. But there’s an important and fascinating pragmatic aspect to this story too, with large potential implications for national politics.

As Chait notes, political correctness is a weapon deployed by leftists against liberals. Its political effect in the larger political context is to make liberals look hesitant and weak. The inability to say “no” to transgender activists at a graduate school may not matter much in the scheme of things. But the Obama administration’s unwillingness to stand alongside the people of France at a march to condemn the Charlie Hebdo massacre does matter. The refusal to pronounce the phrase “Islamist terrorism” matters. Acquiescence to bureaucrats who order universities to suspend due process for male students accused of rape matters.

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