Some conservatives believe they should fight fire with fire and create a “watchlist” of professors who discriminate against conservative viewpoints in the classroom. But is that such a great idea?
The website for the “Professor Watchlist” site says its “mission” is “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” Students are encouraged to “submit a tip” to draw attention to liberal academics in their midst.
Sarah Ruger, the director of Free Speech Initiatives for the Charles Koch Institute, called the site an example of something that “keeps [her] up at night.”
“It’s truly McCarthyism 2.0,” she said, referring to the 1950s red-baiting of the late senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.). “It’s a platform that exists to put the names and the profiles of self-identified progressive professors out there and encourages conservative students to intimidate them. … If there’s anything political tribes can agree on today, it’s that they all want to censor someone. They just disagree on who should be silenced. That’s entirely antithetical to who we are.”
What should college students do? Learn to encounter different ideas and wrestle with them. Be sure you read Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith, and Friedrich Hayek – but be sure to read Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong, too. Relish the opportunity to embrace free speech on campus – don’t try to avoid it.