The Times story, to its credit, says in the lead paragraph that it was “an encounter that turned violent and left one faculty member injured.” The Post story, which was buried deep in the paper (or maybe only appeared on line?) waits until the 6th paragraph to say that it “felt like it was edging frighteningly close to violence.”
On the other hand, the Times very early in the story quotes the Southern Poverty Law Center accusing the Murray of being a “white nationalist.” That is an irresponsible allegation coming from an unreliable source.
1. In the view of conservatives, this is a very important story. I am pretty sure that a staff of reporters and editors that was more ideologically balanced would have given the story more prominence.
2. In terms of the three-axes model, this story feeds the worst fears of conservatives, which is that in the struggle between civilization and barbarism, progressives are on the wrong side.
when it comes to physical violence, however noble the cause, that’s assault, not speech, and the perpetrators should be arrested.
The problem is that college administrators do not think in those terms. If you think that a college is capable of punishing violent demonstrators, you will be disappointed. For the most part, college administrators believe in hand-wringing and therapy, as opposed to punishment.
If I were in charge at a college, I would have real police at the event, and I would announce that protestors would be given five minutes to peacefully yell whatever they want. Following that, disturbing the peace will be dealt with by the authorities.
But that approach is about as alien to today’s college administrator as a visitor from Mars.
4. This incident will greatly reduce the likelihood of conservative speakers being invited to college campuses. Administrations do now want to risk being embarrassed by radical protests, and the best way to avoid that risk is to avoid having prominent conservative speakers. I may not be quite so prominent, and I only get one or two invitations a year, but my guess is that I have received my last invitation.
5. College politics can provide a prelude to national politics. Gender identity was a big issue on campus before it flared up on the national scene. The anti-Israel wing of the Democratic Party today looks a lot like the anti-Israel movement that emerged on college campuses several years ago. If conservatives are treated as unacceptable and violence against them becomes the norm on colleges, then there is a risk that this will spread well beyond the campus.
6. Late in 2015, I started to write a novel in which a left-wing movement became increasingly violent. I shelved it, because I did not have experience writing fiction (not even short stories), and I was making things too complex for a rookie writer. Also, only one person to whom I showed a draft gave me any encouragement. Still, many of the sorts of left-fascist rationalizations and behaviors that I was going to speculate on in the novel have become more manifest in the past year.
7. All that said, there is a non-zero chance that the Murray incident was isolated, and that it has no larger significance. I hope it turns out that way.