Apparently, free speech on campus is under attack from Marxism, feminism, postmodernist philosophy, critical theory and authoritarian political correctness, and arguments often amount to demanding a platform for simple, poorly argued and often racist, sexist and homophobic positions.
The constant braying about free speech from reactionary youths has robbed the phrase of all meaning. At the University of Saskatchewan, we don’t always see it up close, but somewhere along the way, the notion that academic institutions are all bastions of left-wing radicalism has been accepted as a truism.
The perception that the U of S is a left-wing university strikes me as absurd, but in a wider discourse that considers any school with an active gender studies or philosophy program a leftist university, the actual character of a school is no longer a metric for its political alignment.
Speaking anecdotally, as a third-year political studies major, I’ve encountered Karl Marx approximately twice, and any further ventures into dialectical materialism have been on my own time. Aside from the obligatory unit most political studies classes include on liberal feminism, I’ve encountered almost no feminist theory. If there’s leftism afoot at the U of S, I can’t find it in this department.
It’s also not on the USask Confessions Facebook page — where students are more than happy to advance radically reactionary opinions when afforded a veil of anonymity. Recently, the moderator, for their own financial gain, has begun to monetize posts by dog-whistle racists.
I seriously urge anyone who can stomach it to spend five minutes looking into that particular abyss to get an understanding of some of the more troubling attitudes held by students here.
Of course, the political culture of the U of S as it appears in reality is of little importance for anyone trying to advance a tired misunderstanding of campus free speech. Again, this debate is not about protecting speech, it’s about entitlement to present controversial, untested and lazy arguments absent of any criticism.
Much of the exaltation of logic and facts among modern conservative pundits has amounted to little more than a smoke show for intellectual dishonesty and confirmation bias.
There can’t be a substantial history of right-wing thought, because conservatism is a constantly shifting cycle of grievance, reaction and increasingly elaborate hierarchies.
To go back more than 20 years in right-wing thought would be to rediscover the full-throated defences of apartheid and segregation voiced by the moderate conservatives of the past. Then, every 20 years or so, the right wing appears to reboot out of necessity, disparaging the racism of the past and avowing to do better.
However, none of this matters, because the current conservative cocktail of campus free speech and a rampant politically correct attitude in Saskatchewan have proven to be extremely effective at mobilizing disaffected youths.
The U of S has almost no campus leftism to speak of, but when has logic ever gotten in the way of conservative hysteria? What is needed is not a further reaction from campus leftists, but a better narrative and stronger organization.
Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor