Free Speech on Campus: A Tipping Point

Free speech at our secular universities is in danger. That’s probably not news to anyone who is alert to the trend. Conservatives, in particular, are under attack whenever they are slated to speak on campuses. They get shouted down and violence is often threatened.

One of the best organizations dealing with this threat is Young America’s Foundation (YAF). It works to place influential conservative speakers on those campuses to help students get an alternative viewpoint—all too often, they are treated to progressive, Marxist indoctrination in the classroom without other options.

This past week, one of YAF’s sponsored speakers, Ann Coulter, faced a possible uproar for her scheduled event at UC Berkeley, which is hardly the campus that comes to mind if one thinks of balanced perspective in higher education.

I used to appreciate Coulter’s boldness, but she seems to have morphed into a complete provocateur in recent years, looking more for a fight than illuminating truth. The last straw for me, honestly, was her latest book, In Trump We Trust. Amongst all the fine speakers YAF sends to campuses, she is at the bottom of my list, and I wonder why she is still on theirs.

Nevertheless, the threats against her were real. There is controversy over who actually called off the event, but Coulter came out of it angry at YAF, for some silly reason. It’s as if she wanted confrontation that would lead to violence. I have little sympathy for her approach.

Yet that doesn’t excuse the university officials who have apparently lost control of the student agitators who want only speech they agree with. We have reached, in my view, a tipping point in higher education. Parents need to think more seriously about where they are sending their almost-adult children for college degrees.

It’s become all too easy to make fun of this current generation of college kids:

Given the drift of our culture away from its Biblical roots, things may only get worse on campuses. Don’t think we’ve hit rock bottom just yet.

All this controversy only intensifies my commitment to Christian higher education. Yes, I know there’s a lot wrong on evangelical campuses; progressive tendencies pop up there as well. But professors like me who attempt to bring their Biblical principles into the classroom and apply them to history, government, and the culture are not silenced. We still have a voice.

After what I’ve experienced in some of Christian higher education, I sometimes joke that it is one of God’s minor miracles that I still believe in it. Yet that’s just the point: God is still in the business of performing miracles. I will remain faithful in my calling and hope He can use me and others to help whatever students He has placed in our care to see the world through the principles He has established.

Reagan Symposium

Yesterday was Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday celebration. Yes, he wasn’t here to participate in the remembrance, but I believe he was watching.

A major event took place at his presidential library and both Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney spoke at the Young America’s Foundation [YAF] building in Santa Barbara. The YAF owns the Reagan Ranch.

 I couldn’t be at either of those events, but I did attend a fine Reagan Symposium at Regent University in Virginia Beach. This is an annual event that attracts the best Reagan/conservative scholars in America.

The most well-known speakers, due to television exposure, were Michael Barone and Bill Kristol. Stephen Hayward, who has authored two massive volumes on the age of Reagan, was there, as was George Nash, arguably “the” historian of modern American conservatism. His seminal book, The Conserative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945, is one of the texts in my Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism course. I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with him.

The theme of the symposium was a discussion of the concept of American exceptionalism. In what ways might America be considered exceptional? How does one define that term? What was Reagan’s understanding of the uniqueness of America and what it has offered the world? It was an excellent sharing of viewpoints—glad I could be part of it.

Ronald Reagan’s reputation has only grown over time, as even those who didn’t like him have to admit, however grudgingly, that he had a well-informed worldview and a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve as president.

Happy birthday, President Reagan.