People concerned about liberal political correctness on college campuses have a powerful ally: President Obama.
At a town hall here on college affordability on Monday afternoon, one student asked Obama to respond to Republican presidential contender Ben Carson’s proposal to cut off funding to colleges that demonstrate political bias.
Unsurprisingly, Obama didn’t like it much. “I have no idea what that means, and I suspect he doesn’t either,” he said, then continued: “The idea that you’d have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time or what you should be taught, and if it’s not the right thought, or idea, or perspective or philosophy, that person would be — they wouldn’t get funding, runs contrary to everything we believe about education,” he said. “That might work in the Soviet Union, but that doesn’t work here. That’s not who we are.”
After that criticism, he went on to give his opinion about what’s been called the “new political correctness” on college campuses:
It’s not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too. I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, “You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.” That’s not the way we learn either.
The word Obama chose is telling. The idea that college students are demanding to be “coddled” comes up frequently in debates about how much colleges should accommodate requests from students for trigger warnings on syllabuses, for example, or how they should respond to criticisms of graduation speakers or even comedy shows. A recent Atlantic article on the phenomenon was headlined “The Coddling of the American Mind.”
Self-censorship on US campuses is reaching massive levels. Controversial speakers (only from the right of course) are banned because they say something that offends someone.