Free speech is alive and well in America — for some. Stanley Kurtz of National Review has championed two of the IWF’s National Advisory Board members, Christina Hoff Sommers and Candace de Russy, in their battles for free speech.
Candace de Russy, a trustee of the State University of New York (SUNY) and fearless supporter of academic standards, recently criticized the African-American Studies department for its lack of real scholarship and its emphasis on “predetermined political conclusions.” She suggests mainstreaming the department with traditional departments in order to avoid political bias and grade inflation, and also points out that the views of conservative black scholars are frequently ignored by professors.
The faculty and staff union at SUNY responded to her critique by contriving a charge of racism and passing a resolution calling for de Russy’s dismissal.
Similar voices have also attempted to silence Christina Hoff Sommers, renowned for her scholarship on and criticism of “gender feminism.” In December, Sommers was invited by the Department of Health and Human Services to be a panelist at a conference discussing “Boy Talk,” a program sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention (CSAP). In the course of her remarks, Sommers pointed out the absence of scientific evidence supporting gender-power programs such as “Girl Power” (a counterpart to “Boy Talk”). She was immediately cut off by a CSAP official who demanded that she drop the subject. The hostile crowd shouted obscenities at Sommers, forcing her to leave the conference.
De Russy’s practical suggestions hardly qualify as racist, and Sommers’ questioning the efficacy of “Girl Power” does not threaten the well-being of young girls — but no matter. Nowadays, any criticism of such programs is met with slander instead of thoughtful debate.
Candace de Russy and Christina Hoff Sommers are only two of a long line of free-speech casualties — scholars who have dared to challenge such programs and have been silenced, maligned, and “targeted for retaliation.” Kurtz ob-serves that what is most troubling about this is the trend toward “intimidation launched against anyone who dares to demur at the demands of organized minorities.”