Janet Napolitano: Campus Free Speech Hero. Wait. WHAT?
Janet Napolitano, the president of the massive University of California system, penned an essay this week celebrating free speech and excoriating America’s growing throng of intolerant professors and students who seek to limit, ban and otherwise silence speech they don’t like.
In the 1,398-word op-ed, published Friday by The Boston Globe, Napolitano laments that “the sanctity of free speech in our country is hardly guaranteed” at this moment in history — “at least not on our college campuses, where freedom of expression and the free flow of ideas should incubate discovery and learning.”
“I write to show how far we have moved from freedom of speech on campuses to freedom from speech,” Napolitano continues, warning that “speech has become the new bête noire of the academy.”
“Speakers are disinvited, faculty are vilified, and administrators like me are constantly asked to intervene.”
The former secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama fondly recalled the 1960s — a different era — when Vietnam War protests in America were “loud and angry and in your face.”
“Today many of the loudest voices condemning speech and demanding protection are students on those same campuses,” Napolitano observes. “Listening to offensive, or merely opposing, views is subject to frequent criticism.”
She quotes Clark Kerr, an economics professor who held the position she currently holds back during the Vietnam era, for the proposition that colleges are “not engaged in making ideas safe for students” but instead for “making students safe for ideas.”
Napolitano writes: “I personally disagree with many of the sentiments expressed in the public spaces on our campuses. But the way to deal with extreme, unfounded speech is not with less speech — it is with more speech, informed by facts and persuasive argument. Educating students from an informed ‘more speech’ approach as opposed to silencing an objectionable speaker should be one of academia’s key roles. After all, these students will graduate into a country where objectionable speech is the current coin of the realm.”
Possibly to ensure that she doesn’t appear too radically in favor of liberty or anything like that, Napolitano goes on to defend “safe spaces.” They are “a good idea,” she advises. (RELATED: Fancypants College Offers SAFE SPACE For Students Traumatized By Republican Convention)
She also chides the University of Chicago’s dean of students, John Ellison, for having the temerity to warn incoming students that if they want “trigger warnings” and safe spaces in their college lives, they should attend a different school.
Napolitano describes such a lack of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” as “free speech Darwinism.”
“Chalking an anti-immigrant pro-Trump slogan on a sidewalk is one thing; spray painting it on a building is another,” she warns. (RELATED: Wisconsin Professors RAGE After Cops Bust Black Student In Class For Graffiti Rampage)
Also, last year, under Napolitano, the entire taxpayer-funded University of California system instituted a system training faculty about the menace of “microaggressions” — everyday words and actions that radical leftists have decided to be angry or frustrated about.
Under her administration, bureaucrats warned professors to avoid describing America as a “land of opportunity” and to never say “affirmative action is racist” or “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” (RELATED: California Trains Professors To Avoid ‘Microaggressions’)
The attack on microaggressions was the centerpiece of a series of faculty leadership seminars carried out by Napolitano’s office at several campuses across the UC system. One document used in the seminars — entitled Tool: Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send — lists dozens of ominous “microaggressions” for faculty to avoid.
A PowerPoint used for seminar in April shows the dramatic toll the public school system’s administrators believes even a single “microaggression” takes on students. Even a simple compliment, such as calling a student “articulate,” can set off a cascade of self-doubt and anxiety for the recipient
A second document instructs faculty on the proper ways to intervene against “microaggressions.” For example, if a person commits the offense of starting a sentence with “you people,” a suggested reaction is to say “I was so upset by that remark that I shut down and couldn’t hear anything else.” (RELATED: University Of North Carolina: CHRISTMAS VACATION Is A ‘Microaggression’ Now)