In theory, the modern university operates under the quodlibet principle that it is free to discuss and inquire into what (quod) it pleases (libet). Within its ivied walls, it would have us believe, there are no sacred cows and everything is fair game. In reality, however, the motto of every modern university is vir prudens non contra ventum mingit, which is the erudite way to say that a wise man does not piss into the wind.
The ventum against which the modern university does not mingit is, needless to say, the typhoon of progressive cant, and the reason doing so would not be prudent is that the entire power elite stands behind this typhoon, their cheeks bellowed and their eyes bulging with the strain of adding to its force.
Texas A&M University has been keeping its cuffs dry in the aftermath of the Charlottesville affray by shutting down a proposed disputation of the question “do white lives matter.” More specifically, according to the event organizer, the now-canceled event was to have been a “protest” against “the liberal agenda of white guilt and white genocide that is taught at most all universities in America.” Perhaps the organizer was thinking about the A&M course in Hip Hop Philosophy, which invokes the quodlibet principle to consider arguments in favor of White genocide. It’s on the schedules once again this fall.
Quodlibet for some, it appears, but not for all.
The canceled protest was to have taken place on September 11, and would have featured Richard Spencer, the well-known figure on the alternative right (whom the bien pensant routinely confuses with leaders of right-wing movements of eighty or a hundred years ago). Speaking with the backing of the University administration, all local politicians, obedient student organizations, the local newspaper, and every other organ of the local bien pensant, a fearless graduate student named Adam Key spoke truth to power and said:
“I thought they got the message last time — we don’t want them here.”
Key was the organizer of the violent BTHO Hate protest that attempted to break down the doors and assault the audience at Richard Spencer’s lecture last December. His mob of anarchists and communists was blocked by police in riot gear, but it was not dispersed, obliging Spencer’s peaceful audience to evacuate by way of a back door. The newspaper reports without comment Key’s interpretation of this event.
“Key said there was miscommunication with campus and state police over whether protestors were allowed inside the building . . .”
Actually, as I reported at the time, protesters were allowed in the building. They were allowed in the auditorium. There was a dancing clown; there were Che Guevara wannabes giving the red salute; there were angry students waving placards calling for Spencer’s death. The protesters blocked at the door were howling for blood.
Since last December’s Anarchist riot, Texas A&M has taken additional measures to trim the quodlibet principle and bar from campus anyone who might imprudently contra ventum mingit. Private citizens are no longer permitted to book campus facilities without the backing of a “student organization,” which is to say without the backing of students who know which way the wind blows. This is why the September rally was to have been held out of doors, beside Rudder Fountain, in what is technically a “Free Speech Zone.”
Was to have been held, that is, until the wind began to blow.
We see the first stirring of the wind in the newspaper’s descriptions of the event organizer Preston Wiginton, and its headliner, Richard Spencer. The newspaper takes care to defame Wiginton by reminding readers that he is not a collage graduate, and therefore, evidently, a no-account ignoramus with urine-speckled trousers. As for Spencer, one comes away with the impression he may have been in the passenger seat beside James Alex Fields, Jr., in Charlottesville, visibly egging him on. This used to be known as guilt by association.
We see the wind mounting in its representation of the December lecture, from which the violence and overt communist symbols of Key’s protesters have been absolutely expurgated, but in which much emphasis has been laid on the notion that Spencer enjoyed “little visible support.” It is true that turnout was not large, but we are not reminded that this might have been owing to the message the Provost sent to students saying that attendees might be filmed—and, you know,
Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit!
The wind rises to gale force in denunciations from local politicians with connections to the Right to Which Some Alternative is so Desperately Needed.
For instance, local Texas Senator, Charles Schwertner (R) opined that the “racist and bigoted hate speech promoted by these hate groups” should be “loudly and consistently condemned by all responsible voices of our society.” Similar sentiments were voiced by local State Representatives John Raney (R) and Kyle Kacal (R).
I, for one, would be curious to know whether Schwertner (R), Raney (R), and Kacal (R) are regular reader of Richard Spencer’s articles and speeches, or whether they are just careless when throwing around words like “hate” “bigotry,” and “racism.”
While we’re at it, I’d also be curious to know what they think about Professor Woke, and about the communist flag and red salutes that were so conspicuous a part of last December’s protest. Are they proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with anarchists and communists? Would they mind a photo-op beneath the hammer and sickle?
The now-unnecessary counter-protest was to have taken the form of a “Maroon Wall” that would “block the rally and its message from view,” this to be set, as Key puts it, “as close as possible to Wiginton’s rally without disrupting pedestrian and vehicle traffic.” You see the modern university is all about the free flow of “pedestrian and vehicle traffic.” The free flow of opinions—not so much!
I don’t suppose I am what Senator Schwertner has in mind when he thinks of “responsible voices of our society.” I suppose he finds voices “responsible” to the degree they echo his own. In fact, a post like this one is the only voice I have, and so here is what I say:
To the University I say, apply the quodlibet principle equally. Let Professor Woke speculate about White genocide in his classroom, and let Richard Spencer speculate about White separatism wherever may be convenient. Recognize, however, that the quodlibet principle does not require allowing a “counter protest” at the same time and in the same space. What the principle does allow, and indeed demand, is a calm and deliberate answer to the ideas that are proposed. “No-platforming” speakers, or shutting them down with dancing clowns and “Maroon Walls,” strongly suggests an embarrassing lack of an answer.
Mr. Key, for instance, bills himself as an expert debater—a “debate coach,” in fact. Why not have him answer Spencer rationally, instead of with howling mobs, not to mention the the help of the Chancellor, the newspaper, and the Republican party?
To those time-servers of the Right to Which We So Desperately Need an Alternative, I say that I hope you enjoy keeping that legislative seat warm for Mr. Key and his howling mob. Your party will be dead in twenty years, if not sooner, because the ventum into which you are too timid to mingit is going to blow you away.