An event was scheduled for Tuesday by the Dartmouth College Republicans featuring Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bryant “Corky” Messner. The topic of discussion, a policy talk, was to be on border security and the opioid crisis. The event was canceled due to threats of violence from left-wing activists on campus.
Stop me if you’ve heard this type of story before – a conservative Republican is invited to speak on a college campus. The student leftists on campus are triggered by the mere title of a speech and decide to shut the event down rather than to engage in a spirited debate of ideas. It happened at Dartmouth before Messner could even come and present his ideas to the student body.
The topic for the scheduled Tuesday afternoon speech was “Building a Wall Against Drugs: The Need for Border Security to End the Opioid Crisis.” The problem is no doubt the use of words like – “wall” and “border security”, which the open-borders crowd wants no part of. Dartmouth College is in Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover is considering going the sanctuary city route that other cities have signed on to. New Hampshire is experiencing the opioid crisis as many other states are so it is a timely topic, especially with young people. This would have been a way to communicate the value of border security, not only for the sovereignty of the United States but because of the flow of drugs coming over the border. A “significant” number of Dartmouth students support the recent vote by the Hanover Selectboard to consider a resolution to make Hanover a sanctuary city. Messner noted the irony of an institution of higher learning violating freedom of speech.
“I’ve visited college campuses across the Granite State during my U.S. Senate campaign, and while I welcome these opportunities, too often I’ve encountered situations where the healthy exchange of ideas is discouraged by those who apparently feel threatened by even the existence of opposing viewpoints,” Messner told NHJournal.
“The situation at Dartmouth College is the most egregious example I’ve encountered of this intellectual intolerance. Thanks to the efforts of those agitators who disagree with the planned event topic — the mere topic itself, mind you — we are denied the right to assemble, the right to listen to others’ viewpoints — to even express ourselves,” he said. “Ironically, freedom of speech is demonized at an institution of higher learning, where expression and exploration of ideas should be exalted, not stamped out.”
What is unclear is how much of a threat the College Democrats and others presented in their protesting of the event. The Chairman of the College Republicans, Daniel Bring, said that threats were directed at its members. The “security risk has outpaced our capacity to handle the potential protests.”
There’s a large contingent of radical leftists on campus who have descended on events in the past in order to shut down speech they don’t agree with. They pound on doors, rush the podium and harass the speakers. …
The backlash has been so great, we’re not prepared to say we will have the necessary security. …
It’s not just a single comment here or there, it’s the wider situation and the threat of radical, intense protests.
Were there numerous threats, one big threat, or just an atmosphere of uncertainty brought about in an abundance of caution due to past experiences on campus? It would certainly be understandable to cancel an event on today’s college campus, most of whom are dominated by left-leaning students unable to cope with a differing point of view. The problem is that the college years are when a student is supposed to be exposed to ideas across the board on all kinds of subjects. The ability to learn the art of listening to others and to articulate a differing point of view is a part of the maturing process. Freedom of speech and the right to assemble deserve defending, especially in higher education.
A focus was placed on a tweet (of course) that sounds as though it was made to incite violence. The tweet said the community should “band together and jump the college republicans.” A keyboard warrior posted the tweet and then deleted it later. He is alleged to be a student at Dartmouth who goes by the Twitter handle of “lopsided afro boy”.
The member provided only one example, however: a deleted tweet by a user named “lopsided afro boy” that said “dartmouth twitter should band together and jump the college republicans for that email/event. im sure none of them can fight so [sic].” The member said the user discussed being a Dartmouth student in other tweets.
The College Democrats’ statement, denounced the “xenophobia and racism” of the event. They used the standard Democrat talking points of calling a border wall “racist” and anti-immigrant. That’s what the open borders crowd does – they conflate legal immigration and illegal immigration. Any support of the rule of law is racist and xenophobic in their minds.
A statement was issued by the New Hampshire Federation of College Republicans. It calls the threats “an insult to the First Amendment”.
“The right to freedom of speech and thought is a unique value in our society that is increasingly under attack from the far left, especially on our college campuses. This type of behavior should not be tolerated by Dartmouth College or its administration — it’s time for colleges and universities to stand up and denounce this type of egregious behavior by their extreme left students.”
As I said, it is unclear exactly how serious any threat really was but it is understandable that erring on the side of caution is the best action to take. Today’s college campuses are too volatile to put students in harm’s way yet it’s a fine line to balance standing up for freedom while protecting innocent bystanders.
Griffin Mackey, secretary of Dartmouth College Republicans, told NHJournal that members had heard threats directed at both the College Republicans and at Messner. “We don’t know if they were serious or not, but our first priority has to be an event that’s safe and where people who want to hear our speaker feel welcome.”
Messner’s policy talk has been canceled indefinitely. The angry mob wins again.