How social justice silences in Idaho
By Anna Miller
Higher education is a unique institution founded on the ideal of genuine commitment to unfettered intellectual exploration.
Over the past decades, though, activists on college campuses have diverted university resources toward enforcing complete intellectual and ideological conformity to social justice theory. This ideology has grown enough to infect the procedural workings, administrative culture, curriculum, and everyday lives of students at college campuses across America.
Zealous groups on campus are emboldened by this bias to revolutionize the country by silencing, punishing, discouraging, and harassing individuals with ideas and perspectives that do not conform to the ideological worldview of social justice.
Universities can no longer fulfill their core missions. They cannot protect academic freedom in research, teaching and learning for the purpose of “advancement of truth,” and serving the “common good” by transmitting a shared cultural heritage and tolerant habits of mind that are necessary to maintain the proper function of a democracy in a pluralistic society.
Some think passing legislation to protect free speech on college campuses will force universities to return to their core missions. Protecting free speech on college campuses is important. It can discourage universities from deplatforming or providing a respectful hearing for campus speakers.
But protecting free speech is not enough. No one will invite conservative speakers to campus if everyone on the campus is a social justice warrior. Free speech with no differences of opinion is an illusion. Protecting free speech still means that universities can indoctrinate, intimidate, harass, and promote a culture of fear where students and faculty alike walk on eggshells.
The deepest problem with social justice ideology is that it is false and dismisses everything that makes America great. Understanding this requires diving further into its actual content.
Social justice warriors view the world through the prism of hegemonic power structures. For them, Judeo-Christian heritage, the nuclear family, logic, science, and reason are forms of oppression. These activists reject the existence of objective truth. Diversity, separated from objective truth and viewed through the lens of power, requires discrimination by privileging or punishing individuals based on their race or gender. This is how social justice begins to split people into the Marxist categories of “oppressed” and “oppressor.” The only solution to end invisible systems of power manifested in “white privilege,” “systemic bigotry” and “patriarchy” is to dismantle the American way of life.
Americans value diversity, under its true meaning, to protect the right for every individual to exercise different faculties and talents to earn a living and pursue a good life. After all, America has always been the great melting pot of the world. Social justice activists, however, believe the market outcomes of actual diversity represent a system of oppression.
Americans expect universities to produce well-trained engineers to build skyscrapers and design innovative machinery. The diversity mandate, redefined by social justice activists, instead requires engineering colleges to discriminate in acceptance policies based on sex to create equity, or sameness. As a result, universities disregard American ideals of merit or talent and produce lower quality engineers.
In other words, social justice ideology denies objective reality and insists everything is a mere instrument of power dynamics.
Social justice activists therefore view the academic search for truth through free inquiry and vigorous debate as forms of oppression. To solve this dilemma, activists must demand draconian measures to restrict free speech on college campus’. These draconian measures include the demand for “safe spaces,” punishment for “hate speech,” discrimination in hiring and admissions, cancel culture, and the bullying or punishing of speakers, vendors, students, and faculty members who dare to disagree with social justice ideology.
Some universities, like the University of Idaho, have Bias Response Teams with 18 dedicated team members who enforce the social justice dogma on campus by punishing and reporting anyone who does not acquiesce to the status quo. Such bias response teams are likely to have a chilling effect on faculty and student free speech rights on campus. Although the Bias Response Team is not yet a full-fledged secret police for social justice educators, they are perhaps the most Orwellian organization on campus.
Boise State recently illustrated how social justice universities necessarily deny American ideals and stifle freedom of speech when administrators empowered student activists to bully a small business off campus due to the owner’s support for local police. Reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution of China, this bullying tactic, or “cancel culture,” punishes independent thought. According to a Boise State administrator, it was “the beginning of a revolution.” Ironically, Boise State responded to backlash against their support of cancel culture by claiming, “Our campus is a place for all people to peacefully and freely express their views.”
Social justice universities, however, use the new rules of diversity and equity to silence anyone who does not conform to their ideology.
The social justice takeover of higher education posits what is perhaps the worst tyranny of all, namely the tyranny over the mind. Its advocates do not want inclusivity, diversity, and tolerance; rather they demand conformity.
This tyranny in higher education will continue as long as social justice ideology is taught and enforced in classrooms, administrations, hiring, policies, and where students live and sleep. Universities must distinguish between suppressive ideologies and teaching matters of substance that reinforce the pursuit of truth, the free exchange of ideas, and the mutual toleration contributing to a happy and unified nation.
Legislators must do more than protect free speech on college campuses. They must pull out social justice ideology in higher education from its roots. This includes restricting funding to social justice universities to disrupt their ability to provide stable careers to activists.
Intellectual freedom and its embodiment in academic freedom at universities exist to ultimately make students into free individuals, capable of defending constitutional order and the pursuit of a civil society that offers opportunity to all Americans. Social justice ideology destroys this noble mission of academic freedom by silencing those who dare to dissent.
Every American should defend freedom of speech and cognitive liberty on college campuses because those students are future employees in your places of work, parents, citizens, and voters in America.