1991 SOUTHERN EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATION
MR. KINSLEY: From Longstreet Theater at the University of South Carolina, welcome to a special Firing Line debate. I'm Michael Kinsley of The New Republic maqazine. Our official topic tonight is, "Resolved: Freedom of Thought is in Danger on American Campuses." But that's just another way of saying our topic is the controversial phrase "politically correct" or "PC," as in, "How can you read that guy William F. Buckley Jr.? He's not PC." The affirmative side of tonights. debate takes up the charge that a left-wing orthodoxy is smothering American universities, that robust political debate is being stifled out of an exaggerated concern about offending blacks and women; that nutty theories are replacing traditional teachings: that insiqnificant minority writers are replacing "dead white males" like Aristotle, Shakespeare in the curriculum: that affirmative action is corrupting admission standards; in short that in the name of toleration and diversity, American universities are becoming intolerant, unscholarly and undiverse. Of course, if all that were true, this very dehate would not be taking place. Ironically, it s up to both sides tonight to prove that robust debate and argumentation are not dead, at least at the University of South Carolina. Let s give them that chance now. Please welcome our debaters. [applause] Captain of the affirmative team, as usual, is William F. Buckley Jr., star of Firing Line and founder of The National Review. Mr. Buckley has a special role here tonight. Forty years ago he wrote a famous book called God and Man at Yale. In that book he denounced academic freedom as a superstition and demanded that Yale teach only views that he, William F. Buckley .Jr., approved of. [laughter] Mr. Buckley s special role tonight is to explain how he came to change his mind. John Silber is president of Boston University. He has held that job for 20 years, despite repeated efforts by the faculty to have him removed. [laughter] Although he is a Democrat who almost became governor of Massachusetts last November, in the academic context he is regarded as a conservative. And yet if anyone has ever managed to curtail John Silber's exercise of his right of free expression, that event is not recorded. Glenn Loury was professor of political economy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard until John Silber's Boston University stole him away recently. Trained as a mathematician and economist, he is writing a book on the problem of racial inequality in America. If you'll allow a plug, his writings have also appeared in the pages of thee magazine I work for, The New Republic. Dinesh D'Souza is the author of the bestselling book, Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus, which could almost be taken as the text for tonight's debate. He is a graduate of Dartmouth, where he was founder of the notorious Dartmouth Review, a publication that vigorously exercised free expression, but did not always -1- celebrate the values ot tolerance and diversity. Captain of the opposition team is Catharine Stimpson, university professor and dean of the graduate school at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She was the founding editor of Sign: The Journal of Women and Culture in Society. She is the author of a novel and many essays, and is at work on a book about Gertrude Stein. I'rofessor Ronald Walters is chairman of the political science department at Howard University in Washington. He is also a member of the Howard board of trustees, a founder of Transafrica, the anti-apartheid lobby, and a former president of the African Heritage Studies Association. Professor Stanley Fish of Duke University is a favorite target for critics who say that eccentric professors with exotic theories are wrecking the American college curriculum. His exact title is Arts and Sciences professor of English and professor of law. And I was warned in advance that Professor Fish's title is one text that is not subject to varying personal interpretations. [lauqhter] Leon Botstein is president of Bard College in Annandale, New York. Despite his tender years, he has been a college president for even longer than John Silber, since 1970, when he was only 24. Mr. Botstein was recently appointed conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. I think we can all agree that an orchestra, unlike a university, is not a place where individual freedom of expression should be encouraged. [laughter] But the only limit on freedom of expression tonight is this gavel, which I will wield ruthlessly but with complete impartiality. And with that warning, I invite Mr. Buckley to step up to the podium to propose tonight's resolution. [applause]
MR. BUCKLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Chairman, I hope I won't disappoint my colleagues when 1 say that freedom of thought ought often to be discouraged. I can think of any number of thoughts I wish hadn't made it to the functioning part of the brain, and as a Christian I recite every day a prayer that ends with a plea that I not be led into temptation. Little good that prayer did for me tonight. [laughter] But then I can't practice free speech even here. Why? Ask Professor Fish, who loves notoriety, and has revealed to his dumbstruck followers that there is no such thing as free speech except at Hyde Park. And I think he's substantially correct, if only because he repeats an important thesis of a book I wrote 40 years ago about the fate of God and man in a university that has an operative bias, as all colleges and universities do. Quite right, Mr. Fish. But what we have got into in the campuses doesn't much frighten me actually, though it does appall me. I don't think that in the long run Smith College's ban on "lookism," defined as "the antisocial construction of the standard for beauty," will last. The University of Michigan banned speech that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, social orientation, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, handicap or Vietnam-era veteran status. But the same university offers . class on the re-masculinization of America. [laughter] "Reaganism and masculinity," the course catalog explains, 'go together. In this course we will examine the relationship. between popular conceptions of masculinity and neoconservatisn in order to assess and critique the importance of gender differences in contemporary culture." Whither we go from studies like that reels the mind. But stuff like that can't go on for very long because bright students won't put up with it. And bright students ultimately drive out bad teaching. But there is something there that appalls. I mean, what do we say about prevailing aesthetic sensibilities when students reaching adult age, are willing to go around the campus referring to first-year students as "freshpersons." [laughter] On the other hand, look at Dean Stimpson over here, who is forever attending academic conferences in which she consents to refer to herself as "the chair," which I always thought an inanimate object [laughter], though there is nothing unanimated about Dean Stimpson, as you will find out, particularly those of us who are m-a-l-e-s. Ogden Nash once wrote tllat if the German people had had a more highly developed sense of humor, they'd never have never let Hitler pull the wool over their eyes. The first time they saw someone goosestepping and then raising a stiff arm and shouting, "Heil Hitler," they'd have keeled over laughing, as most students will do when they think back on some of the affectations of the current age: William Shakespeare cannot match the poetic reaches of Langston Hughes because he was a white male. There are, of course, serious questions to be pondered. For instance, a recent essay by Irving Kristo1 could not be published in the 125 colleges Mr. Botstein tells us are alert to protect feeling, so alert to it that they do not mind numbing the brain. But in the meantime I counsel patience and benign disobedience. The multicultural management program fellows recently published a list of words that ought not to be used. One of these is "banana." Why? It is an offensive term, referring to Asian-Americans who allegedly have abandoned their culture. It is objectionable because no person or group can appropriately attach judgemental terms to others. Why not? Nor call we use "bosom" because it is offensive reference to a woman's chest--"See woman," it instructs us--nor "sweetie," rejected as an objectionable term of endearment. Do not use. But what do I tell my wife, who likes it? [laughter] Especially do not use "Ugh," a guttural sound used to mimic American Indian speech. Highly offensive. [laughter] Ugh. And finally "watermelon," after which appears on the multicultural tablet only three words: "See fried chicken." [laughter] These folks don't scare me, I know, and they don't much scare you, and I have a feeling that they don't much scare the brighter students. The less than bright students we always have to worry about, of course. But they are mostly Democrats [laughter/applause], so Congress can take over that responsibility. Wouldn't you aree, Mr. Chairman? [gave1]
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you. [applause] Professor Stimpson. Professor Stimpson will now oppose the motion.
MS. STIMPS0N: Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow debaters, our impartial moderator. I am surprised that we are debating this resolution before us at all, for our intellectual life is simply too robust and vigorous to make it plausible. Nevertheless I am here in a spirit of civility. We are debaters, not terminators, and let me give my opponents their due from my chair. Yes, freedom of thought has its troubles. Freedom of thought has always had its troubles. In 1644 John Milton published one of the great documents in the history of the defense of intellectual freedom, the Areopagitica, and he writes a visiting Galileo in Italy, a Galileo grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition for thinking in astronomy. Yes, the American campus has seen a few bad thinqs in the past few years, and I deplore them. In summer 1981 the American Association of University Professors had 48 of America's 3500 colleges and universities on its list of censored administrations. One of these administrators had fired a professor for teaching false doctrine about the ordination of women. But Galileo and Milton are hallowed figures on our campuses. Is a new John Milton forbidden to publish in a university press? Show me the press. Is there a Galileo in a cell? Show me the prison. And indeed, freedom of thouqht has grown in the last 30 years. We have far more ideas being freely discussed in every discipline. We read both Milton and Virginia Woolf, including her thoughts on Milton. We read both Shakespeare and W. E. B. Dubois, including his thoughts on Shakespeare. We learn about Galileo and black holes. Things are opening up, not closing down. And one reason why things are opening up is that we have far more people on our campus to enjoy freedom of thought. Now, I fear any threat to freedom of thought, but I have another fear as well. I fear the scare tacticians, the people who are making wild, false charges about censorship. For example, a well-paid, tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania has compared it to the University of Peking, a hyperbolic insult to the Chinese students who fought and died for freedom in Beijing. If only our resolution had been, "The Good Campus Will Celebrate Academic Freedom, Civility, Ability and Diversity," then I could have spoken for it if Mr. Buckley had invited me. [laughter/ applause]
MR. KINSLEY: Mr. Silber and Professor Fish, if you would ascend the podium. And President Silber, you have a minute and a half to make an opening statement. I'm sure you can summarize your life philosophy in that time.
MR. SILBER: I don't think anybody here is really afraid that thought and discussion is going to cease on the campuses of America, because thought and discussion is going to continue as long as there are courageous people. When people become so frightened that they are afraid to express their opinions, then it will stop. But this should not obscure the fact that there are people who do their best to intimidate others on campus with regard to the way in which they shall use language and words. The assault on Western culture, for example, is at the very focus of this. No culture has ever been less Western than Western culture, because it is not geographical at all. It is a culture that developed from philosophieal roots that was concerned to understand the nature of man, the nature of the physical universe, the nature of the good, the nature of the beautiful. Mathematics is not a Western science; mathematics is a world science. The Chinese, the Africans, all use mathematics in the same way that the Arabians, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Americans do. Science is not Western science. The science that is taught--the physics, the biology and the chemistry that are taught in Beijing, for example, are the same that are taught at Harvard or at Yale. Marco Polo was a Westerner, true enough but he expressed the Western emphasis in culture that was summarized by Terence, who said, that "There is nothing of concern to mankind that is alien to me," and he traveled all the way to China. [gavel] No one in China ever went to Italy out of that concern. [gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: All right. Thank you. Don't leave. Prof essor Fish.
MR. FISH: I think we must remember in the midst of humor and intelliqence and wit that there are serious issues. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, a professor I still revere announced one morning that a fellow student--let us call her Miss Smith--would not be in class that day because, "she was bleeding at both ends." That is, she was at once suffering a bloody nose and was menstruating. The lauqhter I shared with my classmates at the behest of my teacher was as unthinking as it was cruel. And the fact that among those who laughed were some women only makes the incident worse in retrospect. I say in retrospect because 35 years ago it would not have occurred to anyone--not to my professor or to me or perhaps even to the object of his remark--that there was anything inappropriate about his announcement. Needless to say that would not be the case today. And the question before us is, does the fact that an instructor who spoke in that way about a female student today would find himself criticized and perhaps disciplined mean that academic freedom or freedom of thought is in danger on American campuses? I think not. Rather I think that if there is anything is in danger, it is the monopoly on thought once held by persons who assumed the views they espoused and the attitudes they enacted were normative and controversial. [gavel] Now in 1991 perspectives that once held an exclusive hold on the franchise of discourse have been subject to serious analysis [gavel] and perspectives that were once unthinkable are receiving a full and vigorous articulation.
MR. KINSLEY: Don't leave. Do you have a question for Professor Fish?
MR. SILBER: Yes. Do you think you get much mileage out of such a dubious anecdote? At most colleges 35 or 40 years ago a person would have been seriously reprimanded just for the sheer vulgarity of the remark. I recall at the University of Texas a geologist who talked about taking a girl up to the mountains and knocking off a chip. That was not acceptable; he was fired for it. And that was only about 35 years ago. This kind of vulgarity I don't think has ever been acceptable among any academics that had any self respect or standards.
MR. KINSLEY: Is there a question?
MR. FISH: That's the question. Two examples. In the same years at a school in the same city, at an all-girls' school, a male professor started every class by sayinq, "Ladies, cross your legs. Now that the gates of hell have been closed, we can begin." And at another university, a Northeastern bastion, an instructor used to introduce his classes by saying, "My name is, comma, first name, rhymes with lay: my second name is--rhymes with c**t." Now 1 do no t believe that these are isolated incidents and that almost every woman that I have spoken to who went to school in these years a) has stories like that and b) say sadly that they had to learn to smile.
MR. SILBER: Well, 1 think that that is a very selective hlstory. But what bothers me--
MR. FISH: I can add to it.
MR. SILBER: What hothers me is how one maintains any function for the university when we reduce the pursuit of truth and the claim of the capacity of the human mind to transcend the individual and to know other minds, that people come up with the thesis that our knowledge is dependent upon our perspective as either a male or a female, as either a member of one race or another race, as a member of one class or another class, or as a person living in a certain period of history as opposed to another. It seems to me that denial of transcendence as implied by all of these pronouncements is inimical to the very life of the mind and the very function of the university. And how do you get around that objection?
MR. FISH: Okay. I don't think that anyone that I know denies the possibility of transcendence. The denial is that any of the perspectives that are now available has delivered it, has delivered transcendence to us. So at least in my position and in the positions that I have heard other people on my side of the aisle hold, the wish for, and indeed the yearning for, transcendence is a constant. What we must be on watch for, what in theological terms is called idolatry, is the mistaking of some norm, whether it be Western or any other, for the transcendence. That is why inquiry must be kept alive.
MR. SILBER: Do you believe there is any such thing as a norm, any such thing as an objective judgement that is compelling upon other minds?
MR. FISH: I do, and I believe such judgements are developed within institutions like this one and the institutions of our colleqe. When 1 go in to teach Milton's Paradise Lost, I teach it with a kind of certainty, which of course can be altered by discussion, that holds no hostage to anything like nihilism or skepticism. That doesn't mean that I have necessarily to believe that the truth that I have arrived at is the eternal one, but nevertheless I am committed to it so long as no one has advanced my understanding to another.
MR. SILBER: Are there wrong answers? Are they possible?
MR. FISH: Many wrong answers.
MR. SILBER: By what criteria, if as a matter of fact, the perspective of the individual is as important as you have suggested in some of your writings it is?
MR. FISH: I have never suggested that the perspective of the individual is important. Rather, my heresy, if it is only, has been to see individuals as members of what I've called interpretive communities, educated and initiated into tradition of inquiry which they do not originate but step into, so that when I begin to ask questions and answer questions about my subjects, Milton and 17th century poetry, I am stepping into a conversation whose configurations are already in place, and I . constrained necessarily in both my sense of what is right and wrong and possible by those conversations. I do not think that anyone, least of all myself, can step aside from the tradition of inquiry into which we have been educated. And therefore there are always objective answers, but they're not always the same ones.
MR. SILBER: Then you really are suggesting that you are trapped in the conditions under which you have been reared and I think that is clearly false--
MR. FISH: No--
MR. SILBER: --and clearly evidenced by the individuals--
MR. FISH: It is clearly false.
MR. SILBER: --who have so remarkably transcended them.
MR. FISH: The suggestion is false. What in fact I would say is that the kinds of interpretive communities or research traditions in which we all labor have within them mechanisms for their own alteration and investigation and critique. I have been a member of the Milton industry, God willing, for 30 year. and perhaps for 30 more. Many things have turned around in the industry. We have changed our minds. And each year we go to the meeting of the Milton Society of America and declare once again the truth. [laughter]
MR. KINSLEY: Okay. Don't leave. Would you like to persecute President Silber for about five minutes?
MR. FISH: Not at all, especially since I recently read and admired much of his book, especially the chapters on administration and on academic freedom, which puts forward a view somewhat like the view that Mr. Buckley put forward in God and Man at Yale. And so I would ask Professor Silber, given your strong statement in the chapter on academic freedom and also in the chapter on "Poisoning the Well," that freedom as a concept which is unrelated to responsibility is simply a snare and a delusion, would you not say that it's an administrator's responsibility if certain forms of speech which are commonly called hate speech erupt on your campus to attempt to deal with them in ways that prevent the disruption of the function of yours or any other university?
MR. SILBER: I think that's certainly the case, but I think it depends on what you count as hate speech. I am not prepared to say that people can't make jokes at one another's expense. I think the day that I can't say that the wheelbarrow was invented to teach Irishmen to walk on their hind legs will be a time at [laughter/applause] which I don't want to live in this country because I won't accept the limitations on free speech. Ethnic jokes that are directed by one person who clearly respects the ethnic group which he is spoofing it seems to me are totally acceptable. You do not accept anti-Semitic jokes from Adolf Hitler, but Jewish comedians tell jokes about Jews all the time. And I think we have to have that and not confuse that with hate speech. Now what I think is ridiculous is for us to suppose that a university can't expect a higher standard of cordiality and civility than is operative in the rest of society. We don't have to reach the standards of the Oprah show and the Donahue show at the university in order to show our respect for the First Amendment. It is perfectly reasonable for us to say that these children, those young men and women, who attend universities shall be taught by people who are more civilized and more advanced in learning and in experience than they are to accept standards of conduct that are better than the ones they entered with. And I see nothing wrong in refusing to retain on campus or to advance on campus individuals who aren't willing to accept a certain reasonabie level of civility.
MR. FISH: Well, I think that we're growing so close together in our responses that I fear we will not have a debate. [laughter] But let me say that you would not, I think, want to compare a campus to a Catskills resort where comedians are telling jokes. Rather you would, I know, because I've read your book carefully and recently, you would want to think of a campus just in the terms that you spoke of it at the latter end of your remarks.
MR. SILBER: But I--
MR. FISH: All I ask, wouldn't it be the case that at some point some forms of speech or verbal action or symbolic action--the categories multiply--might be so disruptive of your own campus that you would feel that you must step in at this point, lest, to use your own words, the well be so poisoned that none of us can drink from it any longer?
MR. SILBER: Yes, but I think the ways in which we have seen this done by persons who fit into the group of politically correct persons are not the areas in which I would raise this issue. I am a frequent observer of arguments in which female speakers claim that they cannot be understood by males, that only a person who is female could understand the position of women. A person who holds that point of view claims for herself a transcendence that is then denied the male. If she knows so much about what males cannot understand, then why does she suppose that the male might not be able to transcend his limits to understand her? A perfect example, I think, is Shakespeare. Shakespeare certainly understood his female characters extremely well, and I think we see examples of our capacity to know other people of other races and of other religions and of other sexes without any great difficulty at all. That difficulty, I think, is manufactured. What it does, it reduces the pursuit of truth into a competing arena of ideologies. And when a university is reduced to simply the promulgation of one ideology or another, or it becomes simply the arena of competinq but equally valid ideologies, it's not worth the investment that society has placed in it.
MR. FISH: Again you keep windinq around to a position that I would myself claim, and that is, if indeed the university should be more than, let's say, a smorgasbord of competing ideologies, and I certainly believe that, then you would have to, along with Mr. Buckley, at least in his recent 1977 version of this book, argue that at a certain point you have to step in and more or less, if not stop, at least critique ideologies that you think are damaging or distressing in large ways. [gavel] What I'm tryinq to get you to say is--
MR. SILBER: Yes--
MR. FISH: --where does your disciplinary function-- [gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: We've got to make that a rhetorical question, I'm afraid.
MR. KINSLEY: You'll get plenty of chance to answer it. I have to say that both of you have set a very high standard for exchanges tonight. I've been in a lot of debates, and this is great. [applause] Professor Loury, it's your turn. You have a minute and a half to summarize your philosophy of life and subject yourself to questions.
MR. LOURY: Well, in 90 seconds, let me get right down to it. A professor of economics, lecturing with inputs on the axes, says man-hours, and a committee of women visit him after the class and instruct him that, no, man-hours is not acceptable language to quantify the amount of labor that's beinq use. A. class about civics that uses the movie, It s a Wonderful Life to illustrate the principles being taught; the film has to be withdrawn because a committee of students visit the professor and instruct him that the black woman in that movie is portrayed in a degrading way. Students are reprimanded or criticized publicly by a university administrator because they organize a theme party organized around the l950s and they're told that, well, the '50s was a time of racism and such a party by students is offensive to others. A professor of law refers to one of his colleagues as, "Well, he may look black, but he thinks white." These examples could be multiplied. The point here is not of course that the forces of restriction of thought and expression are carrying people off to dungeons somewhere. The point is that the social pressures and the consequences of engaging in certain kinds of discourse are very severe. Things that can't be talked about on campus today- Are homosexual acts immoral? Can we talk about the extent of differences, overt differences, in academic performance between racial groups? Can we discuss whether or not certain affirmative action practices are effective policy for the university? [gavel] In other words, there are real restrictions on the scope of debate that can take place. [gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: And I just had to restrict you. Does anyone have a question for Professor Loury?
MR. BOTSTEIN: How do you think those restrictions come about?
MR. LOURY: Well, I think often they're informal. In the examples that I just cited, many of them, in my own personal experience and people that I know directly, they come about because the academic institutions are influenced by the complaints of students in a way that create costs for people. As I say, no one is dragged away to a dungeon, but one's life is made very much unpleasant. If committees of students visit, deans are called upon and demonstrations occur outside your office and so forth, there is a consequence that's simply not worth the candle.
MR. KINSLEY: Go ahead.
MR. FISH: A lot of people.
MR. KINSLEY: Go Fish. I've always wanted to say that on television. [laughter]
MR. FISH: I still have my question. A lot of people have been made to feel uncomfortable and reported it. And I too have been made to feel uncomfortable, but I'll keep it quiet. But the people who report it report it as a wonder. That is, "My God, students are talking back to me. That's not the way it's supposed to be. My God, we have these informal pressures," which means that you must remember a time when there were no pressures at all, when there was no sense of what could not be said. Isn't it the case that there's always a sense of what can and cannot be said with impugnity, and that what a lot of people are worrying about now is that the game has changed. What they used to be able to say with impugnity, they can't say, and what they never expected to hear anybody say is now greeted with cheers and applause.
MR. LOURY: No, I don't think that's the case. Indeed, it is of course the case that there have always been constraints. I'm certainly not one standing here to say, "I want to be free to make racist remarks in my classes." What I think is the case, though, is that the cult of sensitivity has evolved in such a way that particular substantive issues of vital importance to be discussed cannot be discussed because particular insular minorities are exercising power, real power to curtail the discussions that their feelings not be hurt. I don't think that helps anybody. I think we have to talk about whether or not a certain kind of affirmative action in a certain place is good or bad for the institution and for the people who are affected by it. I think we do indeed have to talk about the morality of homosexual practices to the extent that that's a legitimate subject in a course on ethics or whatever it might be. And those things, as a matter of fact, cannot be freely debated in the climate that I've been describing.
MR. KINSLEY: Professor Stimpson.
MS. STIMPSON: Well, I have one comment and two questions. First, the comment. There are 3500 institutions of higher education in the United States, as I said, and my hunch is at 3500 of them, there is a group of people saying, "Homosexuality is a bad thing," including institutions in this state.
MR. LOURY: And they're catching hell.
MS. STIMPSON: Now my question. Question one: What has happened to courage? I am so tired of these stories of tenured professors with reasonable salaries who meet a group of student. who say, "Please don't do that," and then they go home and whine and cry and say, "I am being harassed." That is nonsense, absolute nonsense. [applause]
MR. FISH: Some of them even said, I feel I've been raped."
MS. STIMPSON: Yes. And then they're held up as these martyrs because a group of students Come up and engage them in discourse. And if a professor can't engage in discourse, what is he or she there for? So what has lhappened to courage, sir What has happened to courage?
MR. LOURY: Oh, I think courage is in good stead. I don't doubt that many of us have exhibited it by making the argument; that we've made. But there's something about this charge of racism or sexism. There's something insidious about it that undermines the legitimacy of the person against whom it's leveled, that is taken up by people in such a way as to cast people out of the community. Indeed, the sensitivity mongers ought to understand that the ostracism that attends being cast out of the community because one has been willing to countenance or raise certain questions is a very serious cost to impose on people. No, I'm not saying that we shouldn't express our views or that we shouldn't be willing to enforce them by associating with those whom we like and not associating with those whom we don't. But I am saying that the tolerance that seems to be tile mainstay of many of the arguments on the left is not exhibited when people run afoul of certain sacred cows.
MR. KINSLEY: Professor Walters.
MR. WALTERS: Let me start this question by making a concession and that is for the sake of argument. Let's say percent of the students' complaints are wrong and only 25 percent of them are right. Given the fact that they are right, who is responsible then for holding professors accountable? Doesn't it seem strange to you that if 25 percent of these charges are right that students have a right to raise these charges. And the fact that they are raising them now in this particular atmosphere, doesn't that signal to you that there is really a very minor systcm of accountability for professionals In the classroom?
MR. LOURY: Well, the colleagues of professors hold them accountable for what they say in the classroom by the way in which their work is judged, for what they write in their research and so on.
MR. WAI,TERS: But still they're not the consumers in the classroom.
MR. LOURY: No, and I will concede that there's nothing wrong with students raising complaints. What I'm saying though, is that the quality of argument is undermined. This is the proposition that I maintain. Maybe you can rebut it. The quality of argument is undermined. The range of considerations that are brought into debate are limited by the self-censorship that attends the strenuous, and sometimes irrational [gavel] response to certain kinds of positions. [gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you Professor Loury. [applause] President Botstein, it's your turn. Maestro Botstein, I should say.
MR. BOTSTEIN: I'm afraid the issue isn't freedom of thought. I think the issue is fear. Fear by people who have active and dominant at the university about new traditions. People don't like change, least of all faculty. [laughter] Faculty have never been known for their courage to speak out. There has never been a high degree of freedom of thought in the university in the way that the critics now accuse us of not having. People didn't speak out against dominant trends 20 or 30 years ago, against fascism in the '30s or during the McCarthy era in the '50s. We don't have high marks for freedom of thouqht. There is probably more freedom of thought now than there was 30 or 40 years ago. [applause] So we're also suffering false nostalgia. People are remembering once upon a time we had standards and a great education. Well, every alumni gathering I come to disproves this. [laughter] I prefer that they don't believe that they've read Aristotle than the notion that they've read it and have so little to show for it. The other issue, of course, is that the university is being held accountable for an intolerance in socicty which both sides are guilty of. We don't want to listen to the other person. We don't want to be convinced by another person's language. We don't believe that discourse, discussion, is actually going to change someone's mind. And therefore we only want to be satisfied by symbolic labels. We don't have the language or the educational quality that is able actually to conduct dissent. The Supreme Court doesn't want dissent: no one wants dissent. And we suffer that problem on our students and do not know how to teach tolerance and dissent. [gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: Does anyone dissent from that? [laughter]
MR. BUCKLEY: Mr. Botstein, why do you find it so difficult to teach dissent since you practice it yourself with such great fluency? [laughter/applause]
MR. BOTSTEIN: I don't find it difficult. No, I think the issue is that I don't find it difficult-- I don't find it difficult, but I do think what is apparent in universities is that the kind of self-censorship that Professor Loury talks about is voluntary. It's not imposed by students, by faculty or by administrators. It is really the lack of desire, a pessimism among current academics, a fear that, "Well, the university was once wonderful. It isn't wonderful any more. There are new populations coming in." Perhaps they're black, perhaps they're Hispanic, perhaps they're women, perhaps they're the poor who haven't been part of the University before, and they come with new demands. Also the traditions change. Once upon a time we tauqht the Romans. We don't teach the Romans any more; we teach the ancient classics as essentially Greek. When was the last college graduate that had to read l.ivy? If they read anything now--or Virgil? They would read rather Homer. Traditions alway change. And aging faculty--pardon the expression--don't like change. So in a way dissent is very difficult to come by because people are very unwilling to invest in fighting an argument. And also our culture is not very tolerant of hearing out debates. When was the last time we saw a public discussion--when was the last time a student saw a public discussion--between two faculty members on any subject in which one faculty member said, "You know, you're right. I'm wrong."
MR. KINSLEY: Docs anyone want to say, "You're right"? [laughter] Dinesh.
MR. D'SOUZA: I do want to ask whether you think it is true that there is a culture of forbidden questions, so to speak, among students and faculty in the classroom? When the University of Michigan passed a censorship code, the Office of Affirmative Action issued interpretive guidelines and gave three specific examples of violations of this code. I'd like to give you the examples and then ask whether you approve of whether or not students should be prosecuted under them. First, a male student makes a remark in class, saying, "Women just aren't as good in this field as men." Second, you display a Confederate flag on the door of your room in the residence hall. Third, you tell jokes about gay men and lesbians. Fourth, you comment in a derogatory way about sexual orientation or a person's cultural origins or religious beliefs.
MR. BOTSTEIN: My opinion, of course, is that all should be tolerated. 1 have a radical, free speech position. Because I believe the university is a different kind of place. Let me turn the question around. Someone who believes women are-- What was the example you gave?
MR. D'SOUZA: Not as good in a particular field as men.
MR. BOTSTEIN: Or puts the Confederate flag out. I don't want to talk about the Confederate flag in South Carolina. [laughter/applause] But I'll talk about the women. To turn the question around, we had an exchange student at our place who in an open class during the Boesky scandal said, "But isn't it true that Jews control Wall Street and Jews are all greedy and capitalist?" And I was glad that I could point to the S&L as a WASP form of thievery. [laughter/applause] But what was interesting is that my attitude, and what should be that of the university, should be to say, "Come out with more prejudice. I.et me hear more. Say all those terrible things. Because if we can't correct those terrible things or debate them or illuminate why they might be wron4 at age 18 or 19, the whole ballgame is lost. [applause] wc~ h.~v~ lost sight of the teaching function when we begin to disciplining young people for the nonsense they've inherited, t~ ~he profit of Hollywood, television popular culture, their p;lrc~nts and local myths.
MR. YINSLEY: Mr. Silber.
MR. KINSLEY: Mr. Silber.
MR. SILBER: Can you explain or justify why people who know something about the history of the English language and know something about the root meaning of the word "man" and its application both to men and women would fight so hard to get of the notion of chairman or chairwoman but they would insist either chairperson or chair, or why they would accept these alterations and brutalizations of the English language as a serious proposition, and waste a hell of a lot of time doing so. 1~ that something (-)nsistent with a serious business? You see, I hal)pc~n to really b-- concerned about women's rights and I can't think of a better way of showinq contempt for them than through the trivialization of those issues through those ill-advised linguistic r-~onstructions. [applause]
MR. BOTSTEIN: You and I would disagree.
MR. BOTSTEIN: You and I would disagree. It seems to me what you call ill-advised linguistic changes I think are a natural and historically documented change in language. What sounds beautiful and elegant to you would have sounded awkward to someone 100 years ago. There are genuine changes in the way we address and speak to people that-- I don't think we think any more that calling a black male "boy" is appropriate. And the reason we don't is I think ethically justified. And therefore the alteration, I may not like it, it may come out of my mouth awkwardly. Llut it seems to me, that those kind of alterations are about fostering communication. Why fight a change even if you think it's ugly, because it allows you to get to the next step? [gavel] [applause]
MR. KINSLEY: Okay. We have to get to the next step. Thank you, President Botstein. [applause] Dinesh D'Souza, summarize your book in a minute alld a half and save us all $24.95. [laughter]
MR. D'SOUZA: There's a comic element in this debate.
MR. D'SOUZA: Maybe it is the case that we should refer to Native Americans as American Indians; maybe it is the case that pets can only be called animal companions; maybe it is the case that short people can only be described as the vertically challenged. [laughter]
MR. FISH:: I take that hard. [lauqhter/applause]
MR. D'SOUZA: But in the more serious vein, at the University of Michigan recently a student was hauled before .l disciplinary committe~ ld accusecl of making derisive remark. about homosexuality, to which the student pleaded guilty and said he was morally opposed to homosexual conduct. And the university sentenced him to write a forced apology titled "Learned My Lesson," to be published in the campus newspaper and to attend sensitivity education to transform his unenlightened point of view. This case is not unusual, but typical. More than 50 percent of American colleges now have censorship codes or gag rules on the books which prosecute and punish speech, ideas that are thought to be offensive, that are thought to be politically incorrect. [gavel] Through university sanctions universities impose orthodoxy on students.
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you. Go ahead, Professor Stimpson.
MS. STIMPSON: Mr. D'Souza, why do you persist in not telling the truth? Really, this 50 p~rcent of codes-- I'm qoing to speak seriou~ly to you now, sir. I come from a university like many of them. We havc~ freedom of speech. Wc- also have anti-harassment codes, wher~ people are asked, not t~ shut up, not to gag themselves, but simply not to indulge in ~ kin(1 of speech that would not he protccted by the Constituti,,,l. And I really wish, I really wish, because you're an intellig~ t man and you're a fair man, I really wish you wouldn't exaggel.lte and misdescribe the situation.
MR. D'S0UZA: Well, I don't think I do. Most of the harassment codes have traditionally proscribed or forbidden conduct. They have now been amended to add speech, to includ- the written and the spoken word. And that's the problem, that the harassment codes are now being enforced, not in a manner to prosecute hate speech. Anybody who lives on campus, any student, any professor, knows there is no epidemic of hundreds of thousands of American students or faculty running around calling each other "nigger." That is not the problem. So what is the problem? The problem is that unjversities talk about equal opportunity but behind closed doors they practice racia~ preference, both in student admissions as well as in faculty hiring. lJniversity catalogs talk about integration, but in reality we witness enormous racial separatism, a new segreg~ti(- on campus, which is llniversity subsidized. These double standards, these contradictions are now being talked about by students .
MR. FISH: ~1e's making a speech. He's making a speech.
MR. D'S0UZA: This is making the administration nervous.
MR. BOTSTEIN:: But I have a question. I have a question, If I may. Who do you think is responsible for it? How do you think this comes about? Do you really think that this is the imposition of university administrations? Wh~re do you think, lf you're right--I'm not sure you are right, but let's assume you're right, that your description is accurate, which I don't thlnk it is [laughter~--who's responc;ible?
MR. D'S0UZA: Well, I think you have a triangular alliance of student protesters, of faculty activists, many of whose politics were shaped in the late 1960s, and acquiescent administrators. I write in my book that the activists are not the numerical majority on campus, but they are the moral majority. They exercise a kind of moral leverage and they are very quick to bran-l any opposition as being tantamount to bigotry. So this is how they are able to rein in discourse.
MR. KINSLEY: Professor Walters.
MR. WALTERS: When you put together your recent writings on the question of testing, together with your attack on preferences, the kind of educational institution that you would end up with would be an extremely elitist institution. And I am really curious to know how you think that kind of an institution would serve the interests and the needs of this country, which is becoming more diverse, past the year 2,000.
MR. D'S0UZA: Well, I favor affirmative action based on socioeconomic disadvantage, which I think would benefit poor black and Hispanic kids, but it would also benefit poor white and poor Asian kids. I think racial preference cannot be justified, but if you give a kid a break because he or she comes from a poor family or suffered disadvantage in the past, I think that's a thoroughly American principle of justice.
MR. WALTERS: If you include poor white~ as another protected class, and you already have women, don't you understand that you have now most of America included in the so-called affirmative action regime? And wouldn't it be possible then to continue racism and therefore squeeze out the original protected classes for which the law was criginally written?
MR. D'S0UZA: I think one problem is we've seen a kind of proliferation of victim status. When you add up the number of minority groups--as you say, women, who comprise 51 percent of the population, are counted as a minority group--you end up with something close to 90 percent of the population. [applause]
MR. KINSLEY: Professor Fish.
MR. FISH: I would like to give you a chance to correct a misimpression on national television, Dinesh. On a certain page of your book you have a paragraph which says first that in 1960 and '61 at Duke University they used to teach Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, the modern novel and modern drama, and then the second paraqraph starts, "But now," and you read from tli- catalog, "courses in gender studies, literary theory," et cetera. The very firm impression that you give is that those second class of courses have in fact driven out the first. But as you well know, in Duke University's experience these days, those first set of courses is still being given with all the vigor that they ever had, and I now give you a chance to acknowledge it.
MR. D'S0UZA: I don't think that's true. I think in the a qreat reduction in th~ number of courses that are required.
MR. FISH: Not at Duke.
MR. FISH: Not at Duke. Not at Duke.
MR. D'S0UZA: --but what is required.
MR. FISH: You're being inaccurate. Not at Duke. That's all I'm asking you about, is Duke. [laughter] They pay me. I have to ask the question. [laughter]
MR. D'S0UZA: At Duke, at Duke, as at other colleges students can read a limited and defined number of texts. If you add new works in, you've got to subtract something from the existing list. So it is a fantasy to assert that no choices have to be made, that if someone comes in, no one gets out.
MR. FISH: That's the zero-sum game tlleory of culture. [gavel]
MR. BOTSTEIN: It's a change that always happen.
MR. KINSLEY: ~gavel] All right, on that note, thank you, Mr. D'Souza. Professor Walters. A minute and a half for your philosophy of life, please.
MR. WALTERS: I'm sure that will be-- That will be enough. I think that what we are talking about here tonight is the ~ues~lon or ~ne uomaln or rree expression in the academy. And I think that just as in civil society there are limits to so- called freedom of expression. My colleagues tonight have talked about those limits and I think have made it quite clear that with respect to disciplinary questions and other kinds of questions there are certainly limits to free speech and freedom. I think sometimes, given this question of the extended degree to which we want freedom, we forget about responsibility, and we forget about the fact that in our Constitution there is something in the preamble which talks about insuring domesti~ tranquility. I think that's still a very laudable aim, not ~nly in society, but also on the university campus. I actually was reading another document when I picked that up, because I had almost forgotten it. It was the Kerner Commission report on the causes and the prevention of violence. What they sought to do in 1968 in trying to explain how this country burst aflame in ~tSt~ violence and how it was so important to develop a new regime of civility was to go back to this phrase in the Constitution, and I think it's very important. Because on our campuses today many minorities are suffering something whi,h has been called "ethnoviolence." As a matter of fact, from 800 to 1,000--I'm sorry, from 800,000 to a million students are suffering this, according to one reputable organization and something should be done about it. ~gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: I have to call you into silence for a moment. Does anyone have a question for Professor Walters?
MR. SILBER: Yes. The issue you raised earlier seemed to me a very important one: the increasing number of people who claim special needs on the basis of being minorities, women and others added to this list. That goes right back to the time in the late '60s where the student movement at Berkeley adopted a slogan, "The student as nigger," and used all the techniques that Martin I.uther King had carefully developed to advance the cause of civil rights in the name of the most privileged minority that ever existed in this country, namely the American student, supported and paid for by parents and having so much free time from their studies that they had nothing better to do than to parade around and try to tear up the university. [laughter] Now that group of students was treated seriously but they set a pattern of talking about victimization, and that victimization plea has been picked up by women.
MR. KINSLEY: Is there a question coming? [laughter]
MR. SILBER: Yes. I want to give you the opportunity of talking further on this issue, because r thlnk you were right on target when you suggested there are people who are claiming protection .is suffering minorities that as a matter of fact are not deprived at all, but simply are using a gimmick to exclude-- or to increase the competition for limited resources from those who have been seriously disadvantaged.
MR. WALTERS: Of course I don't think there's any evidence for that. I certainly can't find it in the history of the 1960s. I think if you go back, I think that that's a relatively proud decade, students challenging authority, and I think those students really are responsible for some of the confidence students feel now and some professors feel in bringing many of the professors who have been racist in some of their comments who have been sexist in some of their c~mments in classrooms, to some sense of accountability.
MR. SILBER: You don't think that they'~e denigrated the civil rights movement and reduced it to an obscenity in the way in which they tried to suggest that the student, the American privileged student was somehow a "nigger," having been subjected to the kind of abuse that had been directed against blacks in America? You don't see that that is any insult?
MR. WALTERS: I think that's a very isolated incident. I think if you look seriously at the aims of the civil rights movement, it was always not just for blacks. Jt was always to try to develop a more expansive notion of America that would bring about true democracy. I think with respect to campuses today, we have to return to the ends that students are being ~du(ated for. It is not just a question of education, but education for what? Ultimately if we have a democratic regim- on the campus, I think that translates into a democratic ~ociety.
MR. D'S0UZA: Professor Walters, you speak about an outbreak of ethnoviolence. We've heard a lot about racial incidents on campus. If we were witnessing an eruption of the old style of bigotry, it would stand to reason that most of these racial incidents, or a large number, would occur perhaps in the South, pla(es like the University of Mississippi, which had a painful experience with forced integration. We are witnessing these racial incidents at Berkeley, at Stanford, at the University of Michigan, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the colleges that seem most dedicated to multiculturalism, to preferential treatment, to double standards. These are the campuses experiencing the greatest volume of racial tension and racial incidents. So I ask, might it be possible that university remedies, that universities might be fighting fire wlth gasoline and that some of these answers might be exacerbating the original problem?
MR. WALTERS: No, I don't think the geographical solution here holds. In fact, I would point t~ the fact-- Yes, just last week there was an incident on a southern campus. I won't namc the campus because you always get in trouble when you do that, but here was the Ku Klux Kl.ln on the campus, in the gui~:, of one of the students chasing and beating a black student. It was a Virginia univer~ity, it was in tl)~ South, it happened j last week.
MR. WALTERS: So this is no imaginary scenario we're talking about here. It's something that happens, it's real, and quite frankly, I don't think it makes any difference if it happens all over the country. Who is to say that simply because the South has had its particular history that it ought to happen in the South? The fact of the matter is, it's happening all over th~ country because the suburbanization of the American population and to some extent, the American schools, has created a void of information that would dignify minorities in these suburban schools. And so they have become veritable incubators of racism.
MR. KINSLEY: Glenn Loury, a brief question.
MR. LOURY: Ron, let me ask you very qni(kly about the effect of affirmative action on black students and on black colleges, You're a professor at a historically black colleg-~ We know that the number of black students who are scoring on th~ SATs in the ranqe that would get them into places like Berkeley and Stanford on the merits are relatively small. At the same ~tS6~ time we know that the attrition rate of blacks at some of these elite campuses where affirmative action is practiced is very hi9h: More than half of blacks at Berkeley don't graduate within five years, for example. Don't you think that the net effect of affirmative action on historically black colleges and on black student6 in the way that I've described has been neqative?
MR. WALTERS: No.
MR. LOURY: Why not?
MR. WALTERS: The reason is because of historical experience. At the university to which you now have come and of whlch Dr. Silber is the president, in the late 1960s and early 1970s they were taking literally thousands of students from around the country and putting them into special programs. They were dolng the same at srandeis, where I was ~gavel], and many of these students today are practicing professionals with no post-affirmative action regret syndrome.
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you, Professor Walters. [applause] A great moment in the debate: Mr. Buckley subjects himself to questioning, rigorous questioning, from the opposing team. Who wants to start?
MR. BOTSTEIN: Mr. Buckley, I can't resist. I would rather talk to you about your harpsichord than about this subject, but nevertheless-- [laughter] I would like to know how you actually, despite your disclaimer to start with, can reconcile your strong desire that values be taught on the American campus, values perhaps related to some theological--you've called yourself Christian--some theological framework, which is a particular framework, not a university framework necessarily-- how you can reconcile that with your supposed support for this proposition, because in some level you're really not for freedom of thought. There are some things you don't want, as you said, taught or said.
MR. BUCKLEY: I began by stipulating exactly that, including that I agree with Mr. Fish that in fact there is a vector of thought in almost all universities. For instance, in my university, a poll was taken of all tenured professors of political science, of whom there were 23, asking, "Are you for Truman or Dewey?" in 1948. The answer was 23 to nothing for Truman, therefore, from which certain deductions could safely be made. I heard you say--unhappily, I have heard other people say it who happen to be ignorant on that point--that McCarthy silenced the academic profession during the 'SOs. Well, I lived during the '50s. I must have run into '500 professors during the '50s. I remember three who defended McCarthy. So that this is a bad datum to cite to make any point that you try to make. But by and large, yes, I believe that all universities have a mission. Mr. Fish says that they do. The question is, what is the correct constituency to make up that mission? Ought it to be exclusively the faculty or ought the alumni to have some role in it? That was my thesis in my book on Yale.
MR. KINSLEY: Professor Fish.
MR. FISH: I think tl~e question of ~()n~;tituency is a real onc, but it leads to another question. The phrase "university," or "college" for that matter, covers .~ multitude of differer~ institutions. Wouldn't you think that the kinds of issues on which we might agree in fact depend on the constituency, the cli~ntele, the purposes for which an institution was proposed, and therefore the entire question of "Freedom of Speech is in l)an~ler on American Campuses" is over-broad because it doesn't take into account the vitality and v.lriety of American campuses. And if you agree with me, why don't you come and sit over here? Llaughter]
MR. BUCKLEY: It depends on your perspective. It is my position and that of my colleagues th~lt there has been a grad institutionalization of this code of conduct, the effect of which is to prevent p~ople from ventilating their views when tllose views come athwart the popular faddish culture in respe~:t of things like homosexuality, feminism, racial aptitudes and ;~ on and so forth.
MR. BOTSTEIN: But the real reason you're not tolerant is bec~l~lse you don't lik~' those vicws. You somewhere think tho-;~ vi~ws are destructive, perhaps nihilistic, perhaps destructiv,~ of fabric of the things you chel-ish.
MR. BUCKLEY: Oh no, I believe that exchanges of a certain ( h~raCter ~re alWaYS hcalthy. If they are ab~lsive, they ceasr to be healthy. As we know, Socrates refused to continue a dialogue on one occasion bec~luse he ~h~ uht that he was bein~ intcrrogated by an exhibitionist rather than by somebody who sought to pursue a proposition. This is a position my colleagues and I hold to. (gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you. [applause] Dean Stimpson. It's your turn to subject yourself to the opposition team's questions. Who wants to start over on this side?
MR. KINSLEY: Okay, Mr. D'Souza.
MR. D'S0UZA: We might disagree on the number of codes, Professor Stimpsorl, but there is no d-~ubt that these codes exist, and there is not one of them in the entire country th~lt~ says in a single line, "Students shall not yell racial epith~t !: at each other." If the sole objective of these codes was to proscribe overtly racist epithets and speech, why are the code~; elastically drawn so that they typi--ally talk about stigmatizin or offensive speech? They talk about criticism of religious conduct or observance; they talk about moral behavior and choice. Words and phrases that are broad-reaching enough, but they seem to siphon off a far-reaching debate into very legitimate questions.
MS. STIMPSON: Let's talk about what those codes really say aqain and continue the conversation we began a few minutes ag(~, 21 ~ t Mr. D'Souza. One of the worst of them--and there have been some bad ones--was thrown out of court in 1989. Let me describe what my own institution says, because my own institution is typical. It first says freedom of speech is paramount. We are an educational institution. Inquiry cannot go on without freedom, without healthy and robust debate. And then it says, but we really shouldn't harass each other if harassment means we can't do our work. Now this seems to me a perfectly simple, ethical statement. A college and a university, in all its infinite variety in the United States, is an ethical community. And I don't imagine, I really dGn't imagine, Mr. D'Souza, that you would believe if you were a dean of students that one group could go to a student and say, "Faggot, faggot, faggot, I'm going to kill you," and say that again and again and again until the student couldn't do his work.
MR. D'S0UZA: Sut that case is so rare. Remember the case of Srown University where a student was expelled for yelling racial epithets drunk and late at night. The reason that got so much publicity was it was such a freak incident. Much more typical is at Southern Methodist university a few months ago, a student was punished for criticizing Martin Luther King's communist associations. Another student was sentenced to community service for calling his roommate "a Mexican." [laughter] Do you approve of these verdicts?
MS. STIMPSON: One of the first jobs of intellectuals, journalists, and I would hope, TV programs of this quality, is to make sure we have the full and accurate story. And one thing that has happened with the stories of what's going on on campuses, both to students and professors is they have become cartoon headlines. Now the American Association of University Professors does a very good thing. Whenever there is a report of violation of academic freedom it sends a team in there, an investigatory team, and they do a thorough investigation, really takinq care of due process. And what I have come to believe, seeing the distortions J have seen which have made me weep for truth, what I would like is a team that goes in and looks at each one of these notable incidents, looks at it carefully and gets all sides of the story. We really need--I hate to use this expression; I'm going to anyway; I can't resist it; this seems to be a show in which we occasionally fall prey to temptation--I really wish we had a truth squad for some of these headlines about what's going on on campus. Life is always more complex than a cartoon. [gavel]
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you. [applause] Professor Walters and Mr. D'Souza. You're through.
MS. STIMPSON: I'm through? I enjoyed it.
MR. KINSLEY: That's good. That means you guys failed. [laughter] Try to do a little better. Let's see. Mr. D'Souza, would you like to ask some questions of Professor Walters?
MR. D'S0UZA: Professor Walters, in three important decisions recently, the American society seems to be moving of allowing greater freedom of expres5ion. The government, for example, funds the photography and photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe; the lyrics of Two Live Cr~w were vindicated as not being obscene; the Supreme Court has held that it's okay if you want to, to burn the American flag. Do you think that these were progressive or reactionary decisionc.?
MR. WALTERS: Oh, I think to some extent they were progressive decisions because I think the value that we place o free expression in this society is well known, and I think it's one to be cherished.
MR. D'S0UZA: Yet in every single iase we are talking about views and values, the promulgation of ideas deeply offensive to others, to the community, ideas that it can be said fracture the bonds which allow society to cohere. So why is it all right to outlaw speech in the university but quite okay to permit it in society at large? Why should society allow greater freedom than the universities?
MR. WALTERS: Well, to begin with, T think that you are overreaching with respect to your comment about outlawing. Nohody is talking about outlawing free speech, either in society or in the university. And secondly, I think in society, as in the university, there is something called the vital center. I think Arthur Schlesinger had it right. It is that vital center I think, which really holds society together and really makes a societal statement about the veracity of any concept, whether or not the Supreme Court agrees with it. I think what we have in the university is the same kind of situation. Regardless of a code, there is a consensus on the campus which will determine ultimately what is right and what is wrong.
MR. D'S0UZA: A number of universities have these specific hate speech ordinances which you said were justified by the rise of racial epithets. Let me suggest a few epithets. At City University of New York, I believe, we've read recently about Professor Leonard Jeffries, who refers to whites as genetically inferior to blacks, who has made derogatory remarks about Jews, for example. I would like to know if you think he should be prosecuted under these guidelines.
MR. WALTERS: No, I don't think he should be prosecuted. I think, because his colleagues at the university have to come together and make that vital consensus about what to do about him, and they will make that judgement.
MR. D'S0UZA: You were an adviser to Jesse Jackson, who has been quoted as referring to New York as Hymietown and to Jews as Hymies. Do you think that that is the kind of rhetoric that qualifies as an offense under the hate speech prohibitions?
MR. WALTERS: I don't know whether it qualifies as an offense under any particular regime, but I do know that Jew~ this country, many of them, were deeply offended, and he apologized for that duly, many times.
MR. D'S0UZA: I was reading the Howard University newspaper recently. I find it full of rhetoric that says things like Smash the honky oppressor. That s an actual phrase from a recent lssue. Do you think that blacks can be racist against w~lites, and should persons of color also be liable under the hate speech ordinances?
MR. WALTERS: I think it i. very difficult for people who Ar~ nowerle~.. e~.sentia the abiiity to enforce th t rlcism. And by that definition-- [applause]
MR. KINSLEY: Pick on~, I,t ause you re runrling out of time.
MR. D'S0UZA: Reading from a document distributed by the Americln Sociolog~cal Acsociation, a professor says, I begin my course with the basic ff-mir-ist principle: In a racist, classist so iety, we have all ~.wallowed oppressive ways of being, whether inter,tionally or not. Tt is not open to debate whether a white student is racist or a m.lle student is sexist. ~e/she simply is. Rather our focus ic ~n the social forces that keep these distortions in place. 1?0 YOU think this is a narrowing or a widening of the parameters of debate, <nd should this professor be prosecuted under the hate speech rule because she, after all, is makinq a general referen(e to whites as a group and it s deroqatory? She says all whites are racist.
MR. KINSLEY: You can answer that question and then go on the offensive, Mr. Walt~rs. ~t~ ~T.~Da . ~ 1 1 ~i ~h~ t h~nt ,~.. ~r~ much. No, I think situation and attemptinq to make a theoretical point, that person should not be subject to any harassment by any authority. I think when you begin to talk about individuals, when you beqin to talk about them with the intention of doing harm either to the individual or to the group, then I think you become liable.
MR. WALTERS: I think th.lt looking at some of my colleagues here and listening to some of the comments they ve made about your work, certainly Stanley and others, there is a question about the veracity of mu~h of the information in your work. When you, for example, referred to me--I think it was me, because you referred to someone called Ron Johnson as part of a group that was attempting to spur the Howard University students to revolt-- There is no Ron Johnson on the faculty because I am the chairman and I think I ought to know. Furthermore, I was at the Kennedy School that semester. I wasn t even there. So I m wondering who it was that you were referring to.
MR. D f30UZA: I don t reter to Ron Johnson, but to Alvin Thornton, a professor of political science. I don t implicate you in it at all.
MR. WALTERS: Okay, then I would suqgest that people actually read that chapter on Howard University, because ther~ is a Ron somebody there, and it was cel-t.inly not me. Secondi. I would like to ask your opinion about something that has recently happened. The Encyclopaedia Eritannica has just published a 30-volume set, 67,0()0 pag~:, and it ~nly inclll(lt~; reference to on~ i)i.lck author, an(i th.~t is actually someboiy whom all of you know is not bla k, .nl that is ;t. Auglstine. Now do you think that that was propi~r?
MR. D'S0UZA: I think m);~ likely tlll error about .St. Au~ustine .ro~.~ o,lt o! :om~- fant.lsy of Afrocentrism that teni. to link the achitvement. of western (-ivilization as being pirated from Egypt No, 1 don t think it s proper because--
MR. WALTERS: Well then, there were no blacks.
MR. D'S0UZA: I do think that W.E.~. [)l~bois, I do think that perhaps Langston liughes, I do think that Martin Luther King belong in such a list.
MR. WALTERS: t3ut then that is pre~isely what s going on at American campuses and that is pre~isely the situation that mal-,
MR. D'S0UZA: No, it s not. Ihe debate is really not about whether or not books should be included. I believed and have argued that I believe that other cultures have produced great works that are worthy of study. The arqument is, do we choos( books because they re any good, or do we choose books because ~f the race, the gender or the sexual habits of the author? [applause~
MR. WALTERS: Let me ask you this. As someone who has been championing Western civilization, I would like to know what you concept of this question of civilization is. As someone who like myself, who sat in a classroom for many years and listene(i to my professors talk glibly about the fact that some people ar~ civilized and others are not and on the radio this morning I heard that the Baltics were the civilized part of the Soviet Union~ I'm wondering how this concept of Western civilization plays out in your own mind.
MR. D'SOUZA: Well, I'm not defending the anciens regime. I wasn't here at the time and I want no part of it. You're setting up false alternatives. Either we have the intolerancc of 50 years ago or we have the intolerance of the politically correct. That's a false set of choices. [applause] I think Western civilization has given us many advancements. It's truc that Western civilization has committed great crimes, slavery segregation and so on. Unfortunately many great empires have practiced slavery and I think one of the distinctive of the Wcst was to initiate the movement for the abolition of slavery, ~rhi(-h was then exported abroad.
MR. WALTERS: Now many of your colleagues have set up this term, "politi(a]ly correct." Don't you think that the politically correct regime is the one which is established, thc 25 ~tSfR~ present regime of Americ,~n education, including higher education, that we have, and don't you think that the people who are really trying to democratize American higher education are the ones that are attacking the politically correct regime?
MR. D'S0UZA: Well, I think we can't speak at a high level of generality and cliche. We have to look at specific cases: the leading demographers of race relations, the leading scholars who teach in the subject. Professor R~ynolds Farley at Harvard is considered the country's leading demographer, for example.
MR. WALTERS: The University of Michiqan.
MR. D'S0UZA: He has been forced-- The University of Michigan. Ile has been forced to cancel a course on race relations because of bein-1 repeatedly harassed and terrorized, not just by students--any~ne can argue with a student or engage in debate--administrators and faculty, who use the power of the institution to come down hard on professors and students who trespass on the culture ol forbidden questions.
MR. WALTERS: What is this culture of forbiddell questions that you want to preserve? I think th~.t when you look at the individuals who are manning the bastiors, really what they represent is a culture of recidivism, a culture of attempting to preserve the politically correct regime as it has been passed down to us over 130 years.
MR. KINSLEY: I'm afraid that's going to have to be a rhetorical question. Thank you very much, both of you. [applause] President John Silber, your turn. Who on the opposition team would like to start? Go ahead.
MS. STIMPSON: Oh, I have a very small question for you, President Silber. You say you're a supporter of women's rights, and I'm glad to hear it. But one of the premises of the women's rights movement or feminism is that women should be allowed not only to search for community, but define their own self, define their autonomy. So why are you so upset if they ask for minor language changes that make them feel included and indeed be included in the community of discourse?
MR. SILBER: Because they don't include themselves in the community of human beings by calling themselves furniture. [laughter] I don't like to see women--
MS. STIMPSON: You mean words can't have more than one meaning?
MR. SILBER: I don't like to see women debase the cause of women's rights by such trivial and misguided objectives. I think it is far more important for them to fight for such things as full participation in every profession, as the opportunity to have day care for their children so that they can combine a career with motherhood, a very important role, a socially essential role, and there's got to be a way that this society can accomplish both. Now those are the kinds of issues that I thoroughly applaud and support. And this is why I'm very proud that about 28 percent of the faculty at Boston ~niversity ar~ females and that many are deans and many are department chairmen. Those are the kinds of issues worth fighting for, l~u~ not to call yourself a chair. [applause]
MS. STIMPSON: But the logical conseq~lence of what you're saying is that culture and language doesn't matter, and I imagine you saying that.
MR. SILBER: Of course culture and language matter. I don't think that women should be denigrated by the way they're spok~n of. That's why I don't like to see them denigrated by referl-in,~ to them as inanimate objects.
MS. STIMPSON: Well, I don't mind beinq called a chair.
MR. KINSLEY: Professor Fish.
MR. SILBER: Good for you. [laughterl
MR. FISH: In other words, you don't assume-- That is for you, deniqration must always be an explicit and easily reco(Jnizable act and therefore you reje~t the notion, and wi~h it much of the scholarship of the last 4o years, that linguisti assumptions can be so deeply assumed that the society that uses them is not aware of them and that at some later stage there c<il, be some corrective efforts which may, as one of my colleagues said, seem strange to the ears of those who have labored under another regime but do respond to something that has been going on in the deep culture of the language.
MR. SILBER: No, not at all. But what I think you should recognize is that sometimes a political movement gets start~,l or a social movement gets started and it is characterized by ; very high level of mindlessness and they go off on the wrong track. For example, there is nothing wrong in insisting that a chairwoman be called a chairwoman and not called a chairman. I have no objection to that.
MR. KINSLEY: You just called your own department chairwomen chairmen about 30 seconds ago.
MR. SILBER: Yes, partisanship here.
MR. FISH: May I- l may have, and I'm qlad to see your llauqhter/applaus~l
MR. SILBER: No, I believe that we certainly have to become aware of language, but when you think of the effort that has been made to denude the term "man" of its application to both men and women--
MR. FISH: I like "denude." I really like "denude."
MR. SILBER: --and at the same time, one continues to use the word "women" with "men" as its suffix and use "person" with s-o-n also having a male meaning as a sutfix, we can see how trivial, how comical the emphasis on this linguistic reform is. What we should foc~s c)n is the reform of things that are absolutely central to th~ fulfillment of women.
MR. BOTSTEIN: I.et me move to that, because you are responsible for a very large, major university. And I assume by t.~kin(~ the position that you've taken, you believe that there is s~)m~ kind of r~stri-ti(~ f freedom of thought that probably is il~ n, the kind th.lt h~; been described by your colleagues at liost()ll University. Wl~t do you think is the source and what do you think should be .1(~ about it?
MR. SILBER: Well, l think th.lt it h.~s to b~ resisted. I thir~k ther~ are definitl~ pressures that go on in every university. Certainly .It f30ston University we have had those who have wanted to have the administration assert that we shall re.pe~t all forms ~,f sexual, affectional preference. Boston llniver-iity is not (;oing to do that as long as I am there, because there are certain forms of s~xual preference that are simply unacceptable. And if the idea of working in a university is that there are no standards, that every point of view is equally valid, that one view is as good as another, there is no ex~ for the existence of universities. [applause]
MR. WALTERS: Dr. Silber--
MR. KINSLEY: Very briefly, Professor Walters.
MR. WALTERS: Given thi~, fact that .~ recent survey has found that only three percent of American universities have anything like politically corre~t incidents and over 60 percent of them have some sort of speech code, don't you think that the people on the right like the National Association of Scholars are making much ado about nothing?
MR. SILBER: No, I don't think they are because I know the kind of restrictions that exist. Try to have a public discussion of abortlon, the issue of abortion, at a university. It will be a continual interruption of any speaker who is offering a serious analysis of what i 5 wrong with abortion. Those who are advocating that abortions should be freely given will be allowed to complete their message without interference. [gavel] The same is true of a serious discussion of homosexuality. [gavel~ Or the role of women.
MR. KINSLEY: [gavel~ This has nothing to do with your views, Mr. Silber, but l can't allow you to state your views without interferen~-e. Ilaughter] We'r-e out of time. Thank you very much.
MR. SILBER: Thank you.
HR. KINSLEY: Professor Fish. Who wants to go fishing? Mr. Buckley.
MR. BUCKLEY: Mr. Fish, in your many writings you were once quoted as saying th.lt r~.~lly you engage in superior fiction and that the status of that fiction has only the obligation--
MR. FISH: To be interesting.
MR. BUCKLEY: What you write demand~ only to be interestin(l, which I car) see that you ale. 'l'o wh~t extent have you been engagin~ in fi~tion tonigi-t?
MR. FISH: Mr. B~lckley, if yo~l kn-~w that sentence in my writing so well, tll~n you sh~lul(1 kn-)w that that senten~e h~ b~en characteri~d by m~ .Is thl~ m~st unfortunat~ sentence I ,~,, wrote [lauqhterl an(i that I r~eJ(lia~e it, therefore displayill, the considerable a~ademi~ vil-tue of being able to change my nM wh~n evidence i~. pr-~ferred to m~, s(, why don't you go on t~ another question? ~laughter~
MR. BUCKLEY: Okay. The next question is that you were c;uoted as saying, "I want them to d~-) what I tell them to," ll~d
MR. FISH: Where am I quoted as saying--
MR. BUCKLEY: --later you elucidated and said, "I want to be able to walk into any first-rate fa(lllty anywhere and domin.lt~ it, shape it to my will. I am fascin.-lted by my own will."
MR. FISH: The easy answer to that--.ln(i I hope that you get to ask a real question--is: I neve~- said that. The report~r, wh-)se name is Fre(1 .Siegal--
MR. BUCKLEY: The New Republic was wlol~g. Fred Siegal, y~s .
MR. FISH: I never said that. --and wrote for The New Republic. He admitted to me on the telephone, when I asked him, that I didn't say it in the lectur^e, I didn't say it in th~ discussion question--
MR. KINSLEY: You're saying The New Republic got this wrong? ~laughter]
MR. FISH: You bet you got it wrong. [laughter] And when I asked him when I did say it, he told me that I said it in a conversation afterwards as we were walking out of the room, ~e couldn't remember what it was about. I never said it, and Mr. Siegal, when he wrote the essay, never identified the occasi~n never identified himself. When I suggested that his whole operation at that moment was one of bad faith, he said in a sentence ~ will never for-get: "l can live with that."
MR. LOURY: Let me ask you--
MR. FISH: Go on to something else. That's a bad question.
MR. L~URY: I.et me ask you about something you perhaps did say [laughter~ and perhaps you will continue the process of repudiation of pllblic statements that are attributed to you. [laughter-~
MR. FISH: Th-? word is deconstructioll.
MR. LOURY: Thi S is ~ I.t.~tement you made about the National Association of Scholar-;, a group which in its public charter is committed to high standards and rational debate, which lncludes several university presidents and professors evidently from across the spectrum. You described this group as "racist, sexist and homophobi~."
MR. FISH: Right.
MR. LOURY: Now you know as well as anyone else that those are three of the most pungent epithets in the language--
MR. FISH: That's why I used them. [laughter]
MR. LOURY: --and that's why you used them. Could you give us three concrete examples of racism, sexism and homophobia--be very sprcifi~--on the p.~rt of the National Association of Scholars?
MR. FISH: I don't have t-) respond to any request for three. I can just respon(l to the question of what I meant by saying that, which I hereby repeat. What I did say, by the way, was that the organization is widely known to be racist, sexist and homophobic and I was alerting my colleagues as to the nature of the organization they were being asked to join. What I meant by that was in reference precisely to the high-sounding materials to which you refer. These are materials which declare, "We are not agalnst women; we are not against gays; we are not against minorities. We just wish their works to enter by neutral, objective standards." And then when the question is asked, "Where do these neutral objective standards come from?" it turns out that they come from the very works and points of view being championed by the members of this organization. So that although the assertion of no discrimination against these groups is made, a mechanism and a way of thinking is put in place that has that effect. So that on the general principle that if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and produces duck-like effects, it's a duck. I say again, it's racist, sexist and homophobic.
MR. KINSLEY: That was an example of deconstructionism at work, I guess.
MR. LOURY: Professor Fish, I would like to give you the opportunity to either disassociate yourself from or offer a better defense of the assertion of your colleague that blacks cannot be racist, women cannot be sexist, et cetera.
MR. FISH: I understand the assertion because I've heard it before. The assertion is--
MR. LOURY: Can you defend it?
MR. FIBH: I neither have to-- As a teacher and a pedagogue, I neither have to defend it-- I think my obligation and the obligation I fulfill to this audience, both here and in the television audience, is to explain it.
MR. SILBER: Well, we unoerstan~l it.
MR. FISH: The position is one that asserts a distinction between prejudice as .?11 attitude which persons can have, and or course an attitude which will always I think be reprehensible and racism, which depends on the addition to prejudice of the power to effect true actions of a harmful kind on persons. Now that's a thesis. It's a thesis that deserves consideration. Perhaps it can be empirically investigated. It is not on its face absurd. And indeed, the whole air with which at least Mr. D'Souza and others, present views that are complicated and what have been called here "cartoon versions" is the entire stock i trade of a certain kind of rhetoric in which absurdities are pt-o(lu~ed by ~ither under-reporting or llnder-describing cases l~l lirlking t~e~n in a ~rie~ of exam;)le~. I fear for Mr. D'Sou~.a': he.llth because his mind can only be filted right now with 4,nn h.~lf-(1et.liled an~dot~?s. [gavel~ ghter]
MR. KINSLEY: Ih.lnk you. lhank you, Plotessor Fish. ~a;-plause] Presi(l~nt 13otsteill an-l Mr. Buckley. Mr. Buckley, you start with the first question to President Botstein.
MR. nUCKLEY: Mr. ~30tstein, let me read to you three sentences published in The Wall Street Journal a month or so ago by Irving Kristol and ask you to comment on them. He says ''Thou-lh the educational establishmi?nt would rather die than admit it multi(ulturalism is a desperate and s~ ely self-defeating strategy while coping with the educati~nal deficiencies and associated social pathologies of young blacks. Did these black students and their- problems not exist, we would hear little of multiculturalism. There is no evidence that a substantial numbi?r of Hispanic parents would like their children to know more about Simon Bolivar and less about George Washington or that Oriental parents feel that their children are being educationally deprived because their textbooks teach them more about ancient Greece than about ancient China."
MR. BOTSTEIN: At the r-isk of abanloninl some sort of normal format here, my reaction to that is this: that I think that th~ comments are on some level mean-spirit~d. That is to say don't think that to raise the is ue th.lt multiculturalism is tl~ wrong strategy or false strategy or really doesn't help the problem-- There is a lot of nons~nse that goes under the name of multiculturalism: there's no question about it. But there'.~ a lot of nonsense that goes on under every label in the Ameri~.~n a.ademy. But what is the case is that when you change the curriculum, in order to make teaching more effective, you raise a very important question. I'm not sure whether it is essential t~at in order to inspire black students, Asian students, to learn, to foster inquiry, you need to have "role models in the curriculum," that is to say, one has to have a mirror image in what's in the curriculum and the student who is learning.
MR. ~3UC~LEY: Well, let me ask you--
MR. ~30T~TEIN: So I wouldn't defend that proposition because I think that's a very primitive notion. I think actually what would make-- '~S~
MR. ~UC~LEY: Well--
MR. BOT6TEIN: --a persor~ learn how to read is a black cl~s~room where there wo~lld be a lot of racists.
MR. BUC~LEY: I would b~ rprised if a primitive thought wa; Jenerated by Irving Kr-istol, but anyway he says, "Most ;p.-~nics are behaving v~ry much like the Italian6 of ye;t--ryear, most Orit?nt.~l~i like the .l~ws of yesteryear. Because ,t differerl(es in cllltu~ k-1roun(i, their irltegration into Ami~r-i(an society proceei; ~t different rates, but it does pr~ ?d. The proce~;s i; I~-,t without pain and turmoil, but it works. Ironically and sal31y,'' he says, "it has not worked so well ~or- American black; among the earliest arrivals. Hence, out nf desperation, they turn to multi ulturalism." Now this i-; a tll-sis by somebody who certainly can't be accused of any tendentious ideas about r-~l~e.
MR. BOTSTEIN: Well, it'~. a very discriminatory thesis be(;~ ? it overlookci on-? thing. All the other groups he names am~ here in some lev~l (M voluntarism. The only qroup that <:3ml? h~?re in slavery .~r-: the black Americans. Therefore there is .1 distinction between involuntary minorities and voluntary minorlties. Therefore, the fact is that you cannot make these comp.~risons between oth~r immigration groups and the American black.
MR. BUC~LEY: This isn't In exercise in etiology. It's an ex~-?rcise in differences of reaction, of acculturation.
MR. BOTSTEIN: But a~culturation--
MR. BUC~LEY: And these diffcrences, S.lys he, q~?nerated something called multiculturalism, where people would kill in order to prove that sc)m~ ~nknown Abyssinian was a better poet than .John Milton.
MR. BOTSTEIN: But that'; not what multiculturc31ism is. I mean, that's the character of multiculturalism. America has always been multicultural. What happened to the melting pot? How is it now--
~R. BUC~LEY: That's a very good question.
MR. BOTSTEIN: --that a Jewish author such as Saul Bellow--
MR. BUC~LeY: As Mr. Fish will tell you, the melting pot is out of favor because people ought nowadays to accentuate that which distinguishes them from the Americans who went through the melting pot.
MR. BOTSTEIN: The meltinq pot was always not an acculturation to some kind of bland center, but always a tension between difference and sameness. The fact is that American white or black or Hispanic or Asian in this day and age require us to know much more about non-Western cultures than we might have thought 30 or 40 ye~rs aqo, and that in fact putting in non-Western components into what goes under multiculturalism 1- a perfectly rt~asonable proposition.
MR. BUCKLEY: Well, 87 percent of the American college students don't take courses in Americ.lrl ~ulture. So woulcin't you say that th~re miqht b~ an argumellt to give that a kind of priority which it is not nowadays r~c~ivinq?
MR. BOTSTEIN: I heli~v~ the prior-ity qoes to that which will reverse the severt-? arlti-intell~ctllalism, the low standala .ind the ab:-?ll-~? of mo(ivlti~n th.lt xi:;t !i in most Ameri~ collt?ge studl~nts.
MR. BUC~LEY: Etut ar-~n't we--
MR. BOTSTEIN: Wh.lt-~vl~r w(~rks, I'm in t~v~r ol. [appl.~lsf?l
MR. BUC~LEY: I know. I~llt aren't we losing that because of the ideoloqization of c~llture a-i h~ IJi?en so, I think, amply demonstrated by the dvlta that Wl~'V~ giv~n you.
MR. BOTSTEIN: But the culture was alw~ys ideoloqized. When the immigrants you spoke .~ho~t came tc) the United States, ther~ was much more talk about a Christian nltion, and when Jews-- You even deride it. When in fact we l~?Lt the religion out, it was to respond to new pop~llations who lound the position of 1 tacit state religion as offensive. wl a]ways adapt to the nl?w populations cominq in. Iqavel]
MR. KINSLEY: Mr. Botstr~in, go on the .~ttack.
MR. BOTSTEIN: I'm so Far on the defeniive, how can I take the attack? [lauqhter~ I was never much on military matterc; My question back to you, Mr. Buckley, is this, that what I suspect from the position that you, all of you, have taken is not so much that you fear for freedom. What you really fear i; that some thinqs you believe in, de~?ply believe in, as having t~- be taught, a culture-- I,et's talk about acculturation. You brought it up. ~rhat whi(Ul you want Pm~ricans to enter into, set of values, a set of expectations, is under siege in some level, on some level, through what is going on in the university. I agree absol~ltely, for ex~mple--
MR. BUCKLEY: was that your question, that you agree? [laughter]
MR. BOTSTEIN: Go ahead. I was going to slip in a statement, but I'll pull back.
MR. BUCKLEY: Obviously the phenomena on which we are training our attention are those phenomena within universities in which there is the kind of tension which we think is leading no place: on the contrary, we think it's making things worse. You, I know because I know your work, share a certain fear that progress is not being made in the direction we both desire. Now we have to ask ourselves the question, what is this mandarinat~ that has been formed in the cultural centers, like the Modern I.anguage Association, that says that Carol Iannone cann~ot be '}f~ 33 name~f to the National ~n-fowment for th~ ~fumanities--why? Pe(-ause she criticize(l (~r-t.~in people who got certain prizes whi(h went against f~mini-;t ideology. Where are the protests that call this rank anti-intellectualism? Has there been a pr~test on your campu~ (~v~r- such an e~tremity ~s that?
MR. BOTSTEIN: It seems to me that the opposition of someone to become on the National Endowment Council is a very sensible protest. There have been protests for every single appointment because there are interest groups on both sides of the issue who want money. It's not an extremist act. It's a perfectly self-interested act that has existed in every political issue.
MR. BUCKLEY: Historically she is the first person who hasn't been confirmed.
MR. BOTSTEIN: Well, it c.eems to me thlt--
MR. SUC~LEY: So it's not all that traditional, is it?
MR. ~OTSTEIN: Well, it lS traditional that there have been always-- I would say that there has never been a time when the American academy has not been political. There has always been a poJitical consensus in the American academy. What's happeninq is that political consencus is changing.
MR. BUCKLEY: Well, it it is indeed changinq, what is the mandat~ that governs th.~t ~hange, and who should participate in it? When we have someb~dy like President Silber who is running a university, certain voi(~es get heard that don't get heard in places like Stanford, where we overthrow the compulsory course in Western civilization and get something blan~fer. The forces that compel this are not forces that ynu approve of, are they?
MR. BOTSTEIN: No, I wol~ld agree with you that one thing that we do have is a lot of cowardice, lack of good leadership, and some aimlessness in what people seek from a university. But I don't think it can h~ put at the foot of particular groups, whether it be African-American blacks, Asians, women, or the desire to change the curriculum in the direction of a more diverse set of materials.
MR. BUCKLEY: Well, if those aren't the propulsive forces, is it simply as simple as saying, "Well, after all," as has been said, "the majority of the world is colored, i.e., colored skin, and under the circumstances, we have to develop a colored and intellectual amalgam in America that reflects that fact." This is very different from the notion of American intellectual and cultural exceptionalism, is it not? WO ~ T~- Ye~. but Wil:lt r think species of the absence ~ uriosity on most entering college students because of the w.~y they've been tralned in high school. I think you're looking at symptoms of a general educational failure much more than the result of any klnd of nefarious plot or conspiracy on certain groups that intimidate others. I don't think the situation has deteriorated. What has happened is the situation has changed dramatically, that a consensus we imagine once existed has disappeared and no new consensus has taken its place. I think that's actually quit~ cr~ative. I think with all the nons~llse that's gone on, the car-toon, there has been a tremendous amount of new interest i fields, studies and areas, which perhaps can rescue the issu-~ o~ st.lndards whi~h have f.allen so low. [gavel]
MR. BUCKLEY: 1 look forward to the fruits of that endeavor.
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you very much, both of you. [applause] Professor l,oury and nean Stimpson, pfease ascend the podium and-- Well, why doesn't Professor l.oury start by asking som~ questions?
MR. LOURY: Okay. In the collection of victims, some pr~-sumably are more victimized than others. Would you agrel~, Dean Stimpson, that the disabilities of history dealt out to blacks have been more severe than those dealt to women? And if so, would you tell me how that distinction of victimization ought play itself out in the politics of university administration? And if not, would you defend your assertion of equal victimization?
MS. STIMPSON: I'm not sure it's my assertion, but I found one thing intriguing about your question, where you separate~l out blacks and women, as if there were no black women. [ 1 .1u9hter ]
MR. LOURY: Will yoll .lnswer th~ q~ ;tion?
MS. STIMPSON: A stance that I doubt very much you want to take. of course r ~ I I answer your que~tion.
MS. STIMPSON: Of course I will answer your question, and I'm glad you brouqht it up, bec.~use this question of victim studies is another ~artoon. Yes, women have been victims t,~n women have also victimized others and the history of America shows that, that the black slave of either sex had a white mistress, and by mistress, I mean owner. And one of the most moving parts of Frederick Douglas' autobiography is where he talks, as you know, about being a little boy and his mistress-owner first teaches him to read, and then stops. But the question is, why does she stop? She stops because her husband told her to. And she, the white woman, was under the authority of her husband. So what we have-- No, victimizati~)n is not monolithic. And what we have to do is to look carefully at history to see who has suffered and who has not and to rectify the sufferings according to their source.
MR. LOURY: .lust to make sure 1 under.tand. Whites were all quilty, but woman are exempt because they were dominated by men. [laughter] Would that be--
MS. STIMPSON: NtJ, that's not whdt l'm saying. That's not what I'm saying.
MS. STIMPSON: And you ~nc)w I didn't say that.
MR. LOURY: Is there .i w-,m.in's way of thinking?
MR. LOURY: Good. consensus--
MS. STIMPSON: BU of your colleagues asserted that One t may I m~i~.e an addendum to that?
MR. LOURY: Oh, I'm so di..)l-F)ointed. T thought I had the opportunity to move on. (I.luqhter]
MS. STIMPSON: No, th~re'-; another book on the bestseller list by ,i woman named n~h()r.ih Tannen. And she dc)esn't say there is a w~man's way of thin~:in~ and a man's way of thinking that is wired into the brain. W~ n I sat down and took my college boards years ago, because I was a woman didn't mean that I checked off the boxes in one way or in another. But what Tannen shows us is that men and women do have different ways of talkinq in many cases. Different conversational styles. Now this doesn't mean it's genetic, c)ut I think we would be foolish if we denied tne existence ()f some differences between the sexes.
rR. LOURY: Okay, let's--
MS. STIMPSON: Especially in pay. [applause]
MR. LOURY: Let me ask you this. Much of this talk has been about groups, and the natural categories come to mind: gender, race, sexual preference. How did we get it narrowed down to so narrow a conception of how people are different from each other? For example, would you grant that fundamentalist Christians are a minority worthy of consideration and support, whose feelinqs ought to be protected from the abusive language that is often tossed about about their beliefs on our campuses today?
MS. STIMPSON: Well, you've raised several questions at once. Let me answer them. First, natural categories? We've had a very good discussion earlier on about how the ways we think, our categories, are often constructed socially. Secondly, there are lots of categories besides race, gender and sexual preference on nur campus and in our society. I think for example, the handicapped--or the developmentally different, as they often like to be cilled--that's a group that demands and has received legislation to remove the discrimination against them. Now you asked me ab(Jut fundamentalist Christians. There are many different groups, and I think whenever a qroup is unjustly parodied, whenever its opinions are satirized--I like satire, but whenever they're satirized to the point of trying to destroy the group, then something's gone wrong.
NR. LOURY: So you would regard--
MS. STIMPSON: I think we should spe.~k honestly and civilly of all groups llnless they are absolutely evil, as some groups are.
MR. LOURY: There's .1 oncern abo~lt the morality of public expression, about the wrongness of saying certain hurtful thinc~ about people. Why is it th~it this concern only extends to the morality of ethnic or qender expression and doesn't extend into the sphere of personal morality? Why is it that we are not concerned with the larger sphere of moraiity of our students than just how they treat each other acr~s~ race and gender lines.
MS. STIMPS0N: Well, T think we ~ir-e. In .I recent survey of college life administr<ltor-~, dearls and WIIIIt have you, do you know what the problem w.l~ they were mo~t worried about? Their students' drunkenness an(l the fact that their students were getting blotto, or a~ I understand th~ ~erm is now "getting ripped." And that is an ethical questiorl. And I think there al-~ larger, moral i~sues that are ~llive .ill,l well.
MR. LOURY: Good.
HS. STIMPSON: Would you mind if I posed you a hypothetical situation?
MR. LOURY: Depends. [laughter]
MR. RINSLEY: Pose away.
MS. STIMPSON: You are the president of a ~-ollege. You have just been appointed, and now you mus~ sit ,lown to plan your inauguration speech. And it's a wonderful college and evc~rybc)dy's very happy for you. And you want your inauguration speech to outline your vision of the college or university of the 21st century, only nine years away. What are you going to say?
MR. LOURY: Well, "I haven't got any idea," is the honest answer. [laughter] But some of the things that I would stres; would be the common intellectual heritage that we all have that I think should override our parochial interests and tribal instincts that are tending to tear us apart. And of course I wo~lld be concerned about .-ivility, but I would also be concernl. about the vigor of argument. I would want my listeners to understand that sensitivity is not the highest value in an intellectual community, but truth is, and sometimes it can only be gotten to by saying things that some people don't want to hear. [applause~
MS. STIMPS0N: I hope you would hire me. But the university in the 21st century will also in America be a university in a 36 j 37 world that is different in several ways from the world of the 20th century. It will be racially different. It will also be a university in which women will be 50 percent or more of the undergraduate and masters students, maybe even of the doctoral students. Can you think of anything that your university should do to remedy historic injustices, always assuming that injustice has played itself out dit~ferently for different groups and individuals?
MR. LOURY: I think ther~'s very little that a university can do to remedy profoulu~ social historic injustices. Indeed, 1 think it's a profound t~llth of our time that there's very little thl~t can be done to rem~dy some injustices and that one has to re-ognize that. That's llot to say that one shouldn't be concerned about justice. It's to say that one should have one's eyes fixed on what it is that one can best do. Now I'm concerned, for example, about the concequences of historic injustice against blacks so reducing the numbers of young people who have had the opport~nity to get th~ education that would allow them to perform in our universities. And my answer to that is not to lower the standards of our universities, but it's rather to address myself to the impediments of family community, primary education, et cetera, that make it so difficult for those young people to put themselves in a position where they can take advantage of these things. I think that to a certain degree there is a profound condescension afoot in this movement of diversity that starts at the end of the process, where we look at PhDs and says, "Let us now redress the historic injustices that kept peo~le from learning their A~Cs." It's not that simple. I take our people more seriously than that.
MS. STIMPSON: Well, I'm trying to figure out where we disagree. But wouldn't you agree they're different points in a pipeline, and so that a graduate schoo] does have a responsibility that all people of talent are represented in the graduate school and will go into a faculty?
MR. LOURY: No, I think we do disagree. I think there are objective standards of performance. Not that they are not arguable, but that basically we in our various disciplines understand what they are and I think that there are very significant differences in the extent to which different groups of people in our society, for reasons not having to do with their genes, meet those standards. And I think that it's folly to simply try to read the numbers as if those objective differences in the meeting of those standards didn't exist. I take the people more seriously than that. I believe they can meet the standards if they're given the opportunity early enough on, but I don't want to turn my face away from the fact that as it is today, if we talk about physics or economics or even English, even literature, I mean, we're all elitists here. All of us at these universities are elitists. We're drawing lines in the sand all the time and marking people on various sides of them, except that for some groups we want to pretend that the actual disposition of them [gavel] with respect to those lines isn't the fact. ~gavel~ I think that's a mistake. ~gavel~ ~applause]
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you both.
MS. STIMPS0N: I wish we had more time.
MR. KINSLEY: Well, it's time for closing arguments, and the first closing argument comes from Stanley Fish, representing t~,, opposition team.
MR. FISH: I've jotted down many notes and could go on for many hours.
MR. KINSLEY: Try not to, please. [laughter]
MR. FISH: Yes. Quickly. Some things that no one that I know or associate with has ever said: that every idea is as good as any other, that there's no difference between Shakespeare and Homer and Alice Walker or me. I think that posing as opposition to truth to sensitivity, misse~ the pOillt that some forms of insensitivity simply close down the search for truth. I think that making those easy oppositions entirely characteri7es some of the strategies on the neo-conservative side and obscure rather than clarify. Now the lead story in The New York Time~ of Sunday, August 25th, reports the failure of the coup in the Soviet Union and says of it in the first sentence, and I quote, "It was a spasm of desperate nostalgia by a committee of men who saw themselves as patriots of an endangered order." Unquote. That, I submit, is a perfe(t description of the recent efforts by a group of academics, largely male and of middle age or beyond--as I am--to undo the advances in research and pedagoqy th.lt have marked the past 2( years. The nostalgia in the case o~ academics is for a time when both the demography and the intellectual content of the campus scene were homogeneous. Before World War II the colleg~ population was largely drawn from a pool of middle class and upper middle class applicants. The professoriate was itself a distillation of that self-selecting body. The GI Bill and changing patterns of immigration began a transformation that was then accelerated, first by the emergence of strong feminism and then by a renewed interest on the part of many in reaffirming ethnic and racial groups. With these changes came corresponding changes in the materials and methods of the classroom as men and women whose viewpoints were never before represented in the curriculum now found themselves in charge of fashioning and administering a curriculum. Meanwhile, many who had grown up in the old ways looked with increasing horror at the slow and not so slow alteration of a state of affairs that they had considered to be eternal. Not surprisingly they have reacted as the Soviet hardliners reacted, by declaring the newly enfranchised voices to be subversive, and subversive not on]y o~ their entrenched positions, but of reason, truth and national identity. As the Times put it in the body of the story, "These were men whose desire was to go backward, a desire fueled, the article tells us, "by a fear of ethnic separatists." In both contexts the strategy was the same, to recharacterize the free play of contending ideas as anarchy or Balkanization. [gavell I predict that this spasm of nostali(3i. will suffer the same fate and will be succeeded by a renewed ~ommitment to the ~xploration of enliv~ning ideas. [applausel
MR. ~IN9LEY: Ih.lll~ y~ . Mr. Buckley.
MR. SUC~LEY: Mr. ~ r-~ ll, we heard it blithely said a few ~mellt~; a~Jo wlth~,lM ~l~y ,-r~lption of protest th.lt we llved not lonr~ ~3o in an age ~ Ml(arthyism, in which r.~obody dared to express hlmself. hf l, those people who showed any sense of extr-aordinary, if ;~l like, independence--if yol- prefer, ec.erltr-icity--werf tiny irl number in universities. There was .,~ universlty that I kllow of that institutionalized, let alone let into its ~atalog, c.~ch things as we routinely see. Professor ~ve Sedgwick has a (:c)ur;e ~alled "Gender, Sexuality and Power in Vlctorian Fiction," which the catalog says, "focuses among other things on female and m,ll~ homosocial, homosexual, homophobic and cross-gender relatlons.'' Professor Houston Baker says that he te.~ches a course in whi.h white male core reading must be r~m~,ve-i from the currill~lum, then "the powerful syncretic ~-,rpc/rall~ minimalisti( urgings of African-American rap music ~mll siqnal this d~f~n;~ legitime (Irerlch) of a new humanity and n~ manities that will ~utlast th~ .rises and ~reate room for n,w ~ -)pl~." rJi,w thi~ d of thinq i; h~pp~ lcl all over the pl., ~-. And wnereas M-~lr~hyism is l~ ely a hic.t--rical fiction, th~ n()t ~1 hist~ri(.ll liction. Now Mr. Fisll llclS constantly tak~n .~ positi--n in whl,h h~ distanc~i himself from what happens be~ h~ re~lly do-;ll't believe in things like literal me.~n~ngs, he really l~ ul't believe in progress in theory, he do~.in't b~lieve in intr-irl~-.ic merit, and under the circumstances, he leaves us in the bow~ls of an epistemological pessimism from which real progress can't be made in recognizing those data that we need to recognize and acknowledge t:o make any progress whatsoever. In deferen~- to his chosen profession, I therefore bid him goodnight by .saying, "Who and what art thou, oh execrable shape, that darest, though grim and terrible, advance thy miscreated front athwart my path to yonder gates?"
MR. FISH: It definitely has an execr.~ble shape. ~ I au9hter/applause ]
MR. KINSLEY: Thank you, Mr. Buckley. Now I've sat through many of these debates and I think this one was just about the best. And since most of the participants came from university campuses, I think that pretty much disproves the notion that freedom of thought is too terribly endangered on America's college campuses. I've been about to break down for the past two years from the strain of being impartial. In fact, President Silber noted me actually breaking down briefly, so let me end up with just one point of my own, which I think is impartial. I think the conservative critics are right: that there is a problem of oversensitivity on the part of some groups on college campuses. On the other hand, I think those groups include conservative critics themselves, who when they are criticized, suddenly decide that that criticism is a form of censorship. So I hope we can all be more tolerant and all open-minded as a result of tonight. And I thank the audience here: I thank South Carolina Educational Television, Mr. Buckley, Producer Warren Steibel, and the University of South Carolina. And thank you, the audience, for joining us. Good night. [applause]