Author Cancels Campus Speech On Identity Politics To Avoid ‘Angry Mob’

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Mary Eberstadt, a conservative American author, canceled her speech at Furman University to avoid interacting with an expected “angry mob” of protesters, she wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

Eberstadt was scheduled to speak at the South Carolina school on Monday about her book “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics,” she wrote in her op-ed. She canceled the event after flyers promoting the event around campus were taken down and rumors circulated that protests would be “substantial.” (RELATED: Dem Lawmaker Threatened To Withhold University Funding Over Conservative Speakers, Watchdog Argues)

Eberstadt had been invited to speak by the university’s Tocqueville Program, which is an “intellectual community devoted to seeking the truth about the moral and philosophic questions at the heart of political life” and hosts a lecture series featuring speakers who exemplify political thought, according to its website. The author sought advice from Scott Yenor, a political science professor at Boise State University, who was flanked by three police officers during his speech at Furman for protection and was protested by faculty and students.

Yenor told Eberstadt that he had never “experienced a crowd so uninterested in learning, and so unwilling to hear,” and that they were “filled with malice.” He was there to speak about the Fyodor Dostoyevsky book “Demons,” which he told the Daily Caller News Foundation is “about how a group of revolutionary nihilists destroy a city, murder the innocents.”

“One of Dostoevsky’s motifs is that liberals in the area do nothing to stop the revolutionary mindset–and in fact, much to abet its spread and fuel its violent tendencies,” he told the DCNF. “The result is a burned down town. The same drama is being played out on Furman’s campus. No one will stop the radicalism–and in fact the faculty and administration do much to abet it.”

The Cultural Life Program at Furman, which requires students to attend a number of public lectures, decided not to provide credit for her event “unless the program inserted a different faculty interlocuter rather than the one who had invited me—presumably because the latter would have been too supportive,” Eberstadt wrote. An op-ed in the student-run newspaper The Paladin accused Eberstadt of repeating “dangerous and evidence-less myths” and the Tocqueville Program of inviting “a steady stream of right-wing ideologues with public careers defined by not merely bigotry, but persistent intellectual dishonesty and irresponsibility.”

“There’s no evidence that the indignant writer had read my books or even knew their titles,” Eberstadt wrote.

She cited numerous protests on college campuses that opposed conservative speakers and a 2021 Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression survey which found that 23% of college students believe it is okay to use violence to shut down speech.

“Bullies have a right to protest, but that right doesn’t extend to dragooning others into untruths—including the untruth that people who join a hateful mob have any intention of listening to a speaker in the first place,” Eberstadt said, explaining her decision. “They don’t, and the rest of us are under no obligation to help them live that lie by playing along.”

Yenor alleged that there was a higher chance of violence at Eberstadt’s speech because it was held “later in the year” and “because these crowds are much more likely to try to intimidate female speakers.”

“I was not surprised Mary cancelled,” he continued. “Her reputation is sterling and her work is second to none on the sexual revolution. The risk of becoming a footnote to a campus riot is not worth it.”

Copies of Eberstadt’s book were sent to every student in the Tocqueville Program and two dozen additional copies will be available for any student who is interested, she wrote. The book argues that “social upheavals since the 1960s have led to compounded fractures on generations and that the implosion of family, real-life community and religion has weakened many people’s sense of identity.”

Eberstadt and Furman University did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The Cultural Life Program could not be reached for comment.

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