Leftist students at Haverford College, a Quaker foundation in Philadelphia, defied the honor code they had each signed and campaigned – regrettably with success – against the College’s decision to invite Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, to give this term’s commencement address.
William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton, spoke instead. Splendidly, he told Haverford’s totalitarian students they were immature and arrogant and had acted in defiance of the college’s ideals.
At Rutgers, Condoleezza Rice was prevented from speaking because she had been one of those responsible for the toppling of that hero of the left, Saddam Hussein, in Iraq.
Smith and Brandeis also turned away invited commencement speakers because the left no longer believes in the U.S. Constitution (Mr. Obama regards it as a barrier to the march of socialism) or in its assertion of the right to freedom of speech.
Freedom of thought, the handmaiden of free speech, is essential to any democracy. Preventing it and insisting that only one narrow viewpoint is “politically correct” is essential to any totalitarian regime. It is the left’s malevolent intolerance of freedom of thought, particularly in academe, that will eventually destroy socialism in America, just as it destroyed the socialism of Nazi Germany and of Soviet Russia.
This week, alongside the numerous cancellations of commencement speakers, two disfiguring episodes showed how far the left is prepared to go to prevent academics from thinking for themselves.
First, professor Lennart Bengtsson, so eminent that he is a former head of the Max Planck Institute, was bullied so fiercely by the academic left that he resigned from membership of the academic advisory board of the climate-skeptical Global Warming Policy Foundation only a week or two after joining. He said that the hate mail he had received had come chiefly from the newly intolerant United States.
Secondly, it became public that professor David Legates, a skeptical climatologist at the University of Delaware and a former state climatologist, had been subjected to systematic mistreatment by the university’s chief legal officer, the unspeakable Lawrence White, who will shortly be facing some sharp questions from the Bar Association he has done so much to bring into disrepute.
Four years ago Delaware University received a freedom-of-information request from the Communist front group “Greenpeace” for copies of all of Dr Legates’ papers and correspondence connected with his state-funded work on climate change.
Greenpeace routinely makes vexatious requests of this kind. Recently, it demanded to know whether I had worked for Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, for the far left has long been circulating propaganda to the effect that I had not. To the Communists’ huge disappointment, the Civil Service confirmed that I had indeed spent four years there.
Dr. Legates was not alarmed by Greenpeace’s request, for he had never done any state-funded work on the climate. He assumed, therefore, that the university would tell the Communists that, and that that would be an end of the matter.
Enter the sniveling shyster Lawrence White, who turned down flat a similar FOIA request from a free-market advocacy group for information about climate-related work on the part of a couple of true-believing climate-extremist faculty at Delaware.
White curtly ordered professor Legates to hand over to him all documents to do with his climate work, even if they were nothing to do with the University and were not in any way covered by the Communists’ FOIA request.
Professor Legates asked why he should be made to spend what turned out to be many hundreds of hours making copies of years of research paperwork entirely unrelated to the FOIA request, and why he was being treated differently from his colleagues who shared the university’s profitable prejudice about the climate.
White told the professor he did not understand the law. Only after the professor had spent the equivalent of two full-time months assembling everything demanded by White did that unpleasant official admit that there had been no shred of justification for his demand, on pain of punishing professor Legates for failure to comply with the instruction of “a senior university official,” that he should hand over material that formed no part of the Communist front group’s FOIA request.
Professor Legates was also puzzled that he was being asked to produce any documents at all, for none of his university salary was paid by the state of Delaware.
He received a nasty shock on learning from the appalling White that the university’s accounts had been altered several years previously to allocate part of the state’s funding of the university specifically to form part of his salary. He had been told nothing of this dodge and had not received any additional money as a result of the state’s largesse.
It appeared that the university had secretly targeted professor Legates and a few other colleagues to be victims of its false accounting, so that – among other things – they and not other colleagues more willing to toe the profitable, grant-attracting party line on subjects such as the climate would be potentially exposed to intrusive and time-wasting FOIA requests, because they and not their colleagues had been arbitrarily and capriciously selected to appear on the books as though they had been paid by the state, when in fact they had not.
Now, I must declare my own interest in this affair. I am a co-author with professor Legates of a scientific paper published in Science and Education last year and demonstrating, devastatingly, that the claimed “97 percent consensus” to the effect that most global warming since 1950 was man-made is actually 0.5 percent.
So I know how alarmed and distressed the professor is that he has been thus mistreated by the ineffable White, and by the university he loves. I have had to dig around to find out what I have reported above, for the professor has been becomingly discreet for far too long. I am only free to report this matter now because one of the professor’s colleagues has had the courage to speak out.
Ten days ago I sent a long list of FOIA questions to the university about this affair. You can access them here (they are a revealing read).
The university has added to its numerous crimes in this affair by not replying so far. The matter now goes to the police, to the Delaware Bar Association, to both caucuses in the First State’s Assembly and to the FBI. Academic bullying of non-Communists by Communists, of non-Fascists by Fascists, of thinkers by drones, will now stop.
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