Conservatives far and wide are celebrating a letter sent to incoming students at the University of Chicago from the dean of students that decries “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces,” informing freshmen of its firm “commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.”
This is a tragedy.
That there is any compulsion to celebrate a university’s decision to support free expression is an indication of how dire the culture of political correctness on American campuses has become.
What has the world come to that the sentiments expressed in the University of Chicago’s letter are now perceived as subversive, bold, and surprising? In the United States of America, it should never be “bold” to say students “are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn without fear of censorship.” That may be a subversive statement in Cuba, but to think the United States is now in a place where such an obvious principle is greeted with celebrations is alarming.
The University of Chicago’s decision to send that letter was objectively a good one. Putting a roof on a house is good, but that doesn’t make it worth celebrating. Houses need roofs, and American college campuses need cultures of free expression.
Unfortunately, however, the impulse many people felt to laud the letter carries a more important meaning than the letter itself. Those foundational principles of Americans society, free expression and free inquiry, are so severely endangered on college campuses that a university’s decision to risk (and receive) intense blowback inspired celebrations.
That’s nothing worth applauding.