Colleges come to senses the hard way sometimes
Harvard University came under justified attack when it named Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow. Critics asked how Harvard could honor a former U.S. Army officer convicted of leaking 750,000 classified or sensitive documents.
The university rescinded the invitation, and Manning hit back, tweeting, “Honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting Harvard fellow.” That went far in answering the “how could Harvard” question.
Chelsea Manning, born Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage. President Obama commuted her sentence after she had served seven. Manning went on to cultivate her celebrity, gracing glossy magazines as a stylish woman.
Harvard, it would appear, invited Manning to be a fellow at its prestigious Institute of Politics as a gesture toward transgender rights. Its news release heralded her as the “first transgender fellow,” leaving the prison part for the end.
Harvard came to its senses after Michael Morell, a deputy director of the CIA under Obama, resigned from the program in disgust. He wrote that Harvard’s invitation honored “a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”
So Manning looked to be a checkmark on Harvard’s list of good deeds in the name of identity politics. But was it indeed a good deed? It was not.
Just this summer, President Trump called for banning transgender people from the armed forces. Our military leaders pushed back in their defense. Transgender troops were serving bravely and with distinction. Progressives and others applauded.
So what will it be? Are transgender service members to be regarded as honorable warriors, equal to the others? Or are they somehow weaker and thus given extra latitude when they act dishonorably?
For too long, the University of California, Berkeley had indulged a left-wing campaign to censure conservative views on campus. Perhaps the roughing up of a peaceful right-wing demonstration last month was the last straw. Whatever, Berkeley has found its spine.
The university decided to employ hundreds of police to protect a recent event featuring conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. The police presence cost $600,000. A large protest against Shapiro’s talk was overwhelmingly peaceful, but a handful of exhibitionists went violent. Their arrests nailed into place Berkeley’s determination to defend free speech.
Berkeley says it’s ready to spend similar amounts protecting other controversial speakers. But as the rules of the game grow clear, fewer will try to break them — and the cost of protection will go down.
In a loss for Evergreen State College but a win for free speech, the Olympia, Washington, institution has agreed to pay a professor $500,000 in damages. What happened to Bret Weinstein, a biologist, was an inquisition almost hallucinatory in its fervor.
It should not have mattered that Weinstein was himself an exemplary liberal. That fact simply made his persecution more extraordinary.
Weinstein’s “misstep” was to object to an event in which white students were asked to leave campus to talk about race. In the school’s traditional “Day of Absence,” students of color went off for their own discussions. Weinstein opined that there was a big difference between voluntarily boycotting campus for a day and being encouraged to — with the strong hint that nonparticipants would be labeled racist.
Smeared and hounded up and down campus, Weinstein moved his class to a city park. Evergreen President George Bridges let Weinstein know that the college could not guarantee his safety on campus and described the professor’s tormentors as “courageous.”
Such left-wing boobery greatly pains principled liberals while handing ammo to the right. It’s good to see two colleges push back — and a third punished for succumbing. Americans all over have retreated into their thought bubbles. Colleges should be the first places to break them.
Editor’s note: Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at email@example.com. To find out more about Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.