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A conservative organization called Accuracy In Academia thought it would be nice to introduce students at New York’s Columbia University to some intellectual and philosophical diversity.

So they organized a conference called, “A Place at the Table: Conservative Ideas in Higher Education” last Friday and Saturday. The group signed a contract with the university and paid for use of the facilities for speakers such as Ward Connerly, Dinesh D’Souza and John Leo.

On the first day of the conference, about 100 students turned out to protest the keynote address by Connerly, the University of California regent who successfully challenged racial preferences — first in the state’s academic system and later through a statewide ballot initiative.

As a result of the controversy, Columbia University administrators decided late Friday night to pull the plug on the second day of the conference by banning attendance by anyone but students — effectively muzzling free speech on campus.

University security called the conference organizers after midnight Friday to explain that conference registrants from off-campus would not be permitted into the hall. Accuracy In Media quickly shifted gears and Saturday held a the final session of the conference in Morningside Park adjacent to the campus.

“Essentially, Columbia told us that the speakers could still deliver their remarks, but the people who had traveled to the conference could not gather to hear them,” explained Accuracy In Academia Executive Director Dan Flynn. “Banning the spectators instead of the speakers is certainly a unique way to censor an event.”

Indeed it is. But the totalitarian mindset that pervades Columbia University and so many other so-called institutions of higher learning is very creative. You see, people who hate freedom can never win a civil debate. They can never emerge victorious in a rationale argument. So they constantly devise new ways to avoid those situations.

“In the Soviet Union you would expect something like this because it was a totalitarian country,” said Catherine Lev, a Fordham Law School student and Russian immigrant turned away by Columbia security. “In the United States, however, it is very surprising that a university would stamp out a group’s right to gather and speak. I thought I escaped totalitarianism when I left Russia only to find it glaring right back in my face here at Columbia University.”

The decision by Columbia was a victory for the protesters, whose goal from the start was to banish conservative speakers from the campus.

“I thought it was great,” Roxanne Smithers, president of the Black Students Association, told the campus paper. “They were entirely dislocated. The black people have been dislocated for years, and they were dislocated for a couple of hours. It doesn’t equalize it, but it’s a start.”

Franklin Amoo added, “I’ll do whatever needs to be done (to stop the conference), in order to make sure they know their sentiments are not shared.”

“We got (D’Souza) into Morningside Park, which Columbia doesn’t pay attention to anyway,” proclaimed Adrienne Brown. “This is an alcove where homeless people sleep and p—.”

My, my — what lessons they are learning from liberal education today. I am reminded that these protesters are the very same people who talk about the need for “diversity” and “tolerance” when it suits them. But the brand of fascist political correctness we see on American campuses today is representative of some of the most intolerant closed-mindedness this side of Beijing.

The 80 protesters who showed up Saturday were in a celebratory mood as they shouted down D’Souza’s speech. Included among the signs that were held up: “Access Denied,” “We Win: Racists Not Allowed at Columbia” and “There’s No Place at the Table for Hate.”

Oh, no — no place at the table for hate. I guess those were expressions of love from the protesters.

“We titled the conference ‘A Place at the Table: Conservative Ideas in Higher Education’ because we thought that students should be exposed to more than just a narrow range of ideas,” explained Flynn. “Quite clearly, Columbia’s administration does not agree that conservatives have a place at their table.”

One Columbia student, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted Accuracy in Academia and stated, “I did not attend the conference for a number of reasons, the most important being that I did not feel it would be good for my academic future and safety.”

Well, that’s an example of cowardice in the extreme. But it also illustrates how fashionable fascism has become on U.S. campuses that anyone would feel threatened for simply attending a conference on political ideas.

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