The Freethinkers at Portland State University have invited James Damore to speak on a "diversity" panel scheduled for tomorrow. Apparently, free thinking and intellectual diversity are no-nos on the campus.
Damore, as you may recall, was fired by Google after he wrote a memo claiming that there are intrinsic differences between men and women and that white men with conservative views are discriminated against in the "ideological echo chamber" that Damore alleges Google to be.
Damore seems to be too much for the ideological echo chamber that is now the American college campus. In a Wall Street Journal piece headlined "Antifa Rages against Google's Dissident," Andy Ngo, president of the Freethinkers, tells what happened when Mr. Damore was invited on campus:
We expected controversy. But we also got danger. The left-wing newspaper Willamette Week published an article with a false and inflammatory headline: “Tech Bro Fired from Google for Saying Women Are Biologically Unfit to Be Engineers Will Speak at PSU Next Month.” The subheadline inaccurately attributed to Mr. Damore the view that “women can’t do math.”
Campus activists called us misogynists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis. A person claiming to work for campus audiovisual services tweeted that he could break into our event through a back entrance and “literally turn the whole building off.” There were threats of violence. A Facebook user—it’s not clear if he’s connected to PSU—suggested he’d throw “active grenades” at Mr. Damore onstage. Campus police took these threats seriously enough that they denied our request for a larger venue, despite overwhelming interest.
PDX Women in Tech, a local activist group, proclaimed itself “disheartened and appalled” that we were “engaging in discourse without an opposing viewpoint.” If they’d asked us, they’d have known we invited every tenured and tenure-track professor from the women’s studies department and were rebuffed. Meantime, the administration and student government have organized three counterevents to challenge “the notion that women do not generate ideas”—something Mr. Damore has never claimed. Opponents also attempted to deny our event an audience by hoarding the free tickets and not using them.
The Portland Freethinkers also faced controversy when they aired a film by Muslim dissidents, and IWF friend and American Enterprise Institute philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers drew protests when she was invited to speak at Portland.
Ngo is a former evangelical Christian–he says that he became disillusioned by what he perceived was a zealotry and hostility to free thought in his former evangelical circles. But now he is encountering what he describes as a "new kind of fundamentalism" among people who by and large disavow religion.
Indeed, Ngo charges that “intersectionality," a theory of oppression and the banner under which free speech opponents fight, has become a kind of new religion. He writes:
Intersectionality’s true believers tend to be far less tolerant than traditional religious believers with their sophisticated apologetics. To intersectionalists, skepticism is an existential threat. To question their beliefs, I’ve been told, constitutes “debating someone’s right to exist.”
The title of our event is “We Need to Talk About Diversity.” The proof is that our adversaries are so determined to shut us down.
Universities developed in the West in part to promote inquiry into ideas. The latest development on campus–the suppression of dissident ideas–represents a shift away from that foundational purpose.
Our universities are becoming something other than universities as originally conceived.