mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Higher Education Watch
The Campus Left Grew More Radical During the Obama Years

During the 1990s, the most high-profile means of ideological enforcement on campus were “speech codes,” or overly-broad harassment policies that could get students and faculty in trouble for controversial remarks related to race and gender. In recent years, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the number of speech codes has declined, but new means of silencing provocative speech have emerged. Among them: “Disinvitation attempts,” or protests pressuring campus administrations to bar unpopular political figures from coming to campus after they had been invited to speak to a graduating class or student group (or drive them from campus once they have arrived).

Heterodox Academy, a non-partisan group of faculty dedicated to preserving viewpoint diversity in academia, has produced data about the frequency of such instances over the last 16 years. Their key findings: Efforts to bar speakers from campus appear to be on the upswing, and, since the beginning of the Obama years, it has been the campus Left that has been doing most of the disinviting.

Why the surge in left-wing activity since 2009? One possible factor is that the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights in Education has gone all-in for the activists, pursuing a hard-line interpretation of Title IX and rarely even playing lip service to freedom of speech. So the campus Left felt, correctly, that the federal government had its back.

At the same time, young progressives may have been frustrated by the fact that even the election of the most liberal President in a generation didn’t fully dismantle the patriarchy or eliminate traditionalist or bigoted views, and therefore set out to look for less, er, liberal ways to effect political change.

Alternatively, apologists for the overzealous campus protesters would say, young people are merely becoming more politically activated and more alert to the oppression around them. In that case, the sense of injustice is sure to be aroused further during the next four years, and the disinvitation craze can’t be expected to abate anytime soon.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Disappeared4x

    The reality on campus is far worse than any data. In 2013, when it no longer felt safe to walk on campus, attend a lecture, audit a seminar, or say anything out loud, I divorced myself from my alma mater, realizing that was the single biggest mistake of my life. My small donations? Wikipedia.

    • Beauceron

      Yeah, I have stopped giving to my colleges.
      I hope they sink and go under. It’s what they deserve.

      • Angel Martin

        Same here. They have morphed into playpens for leftist idiocy and ignorance, and need to be defunded.

        Conservatives who want to have colleges and universities that fulfil their historic roles need to start over with completely new institutions.

        • Beauceron

          “Conservatives who want to have colleges and universities that fulfil their historic roles need to start over with completely new institutions.”
          I think that is a sad truth. Universities at this point are so far gone that there is simply no saving them.

          • polijunkie100

            It got me wondering if Glenn will really open his online U?

    • seattleoutcast

      I don’t even donate to Wikipedia. They don’t need the donations and it’s one, giant PC institution. I find it disturbing that conservatives always seem to have a section on Controversy, but many liberals do not.

      • Pait

        I understand that Wikipedia is too much part of the fact based community. An encyclopedia of alternative facts might be more to your liking. Facts have a well-know liberal bias, as you never tire to remind us.

        • seattleoutcast

          If you call a leftist bias, “facts”, then I cannot help you. People will turn to the truth if allowed an alternative, which is why mainstream media outlets are dying and people are turning to websites and individual bloggers (such as the remarkable TAI) for their news. Look at the ratings of CNN, MSNBC, etc to see the implosion of their businesses.

          • Pait

            I merely restated your claim that Wikipedia is a “PC institution” because it only presents verifiable statements.

            Things like that used to be written so clearly, before the alternative facts takeover.

        • Beauceron

          How puerile are you willing to be?

          • Pait

            In order to read “I will not support an organization whose mission is to present facts in a verifiable way, without statements that cannot be backed up”, I will be as puerile as I can. It’s totally worthwhile.

          • Beauceron

            You do of course recognize that Wikipedia’s bias has been commented on for some time now– it’s not in dispute. It’s been the focus of several studies.

            It’s gotten better over the years, but bias still remains.


            Part of it is the staff at Wikipedia (
            ) Part of it is just the people who choose to contribute. But to pretend that it doesn’t exist– at least in political articles is, well, like believing in fake news.

          • Pait

            It’s not perfect, of course. It’s merely the best encyclopedia ever, and the most reliably verifiable source of encyclopedic information. Plus, everyone can make an effort to improve it. Its liberal bias comes from the facts.

            I doubt that the statement “I don’t donate to Wikipedia” means “I don’t use Wikipedia;” most likely it means “I free ride Wikipedia, I can’t support a reality based organization.”

          • Beauceron

            I think it can be useful. But outside of Internet forums, I wouldn’t use it as a source document for anything else.

          • Johannessen

            if it was “merely the best encyclopedia ever” then why is it not something that can be sourced for any sort of academic paper? Sorry, an organization that would be laughed at if cited in any academic work cannot be considered “the best encyclopedia ever” not even by a long shot.

          • Pait

            It is just an encyclopedia, not a source for the most complete and up to date scientific and academic information. Basing a scientific argument on an encyclopedia entry is indeed unscholarly – but Wikipedia is very helpful for learning and documenting fact about subjects which are not very close to a researcher’s personal specialization.

            As for laughing at school or college work that cites Wikipedia, well, it’s a forma of academic snobbery.

            If you don’t consider it the best encyclopedia ever, then perhaps you know of a better one? There hasn’t been – the Wikipedia technology is so much superior to what we had before the internet.

          • Johannessen

            Sorry, an encyclopedia is meticulously fact checked and referenced and would be acceptable to source in any academic paper. Lacking the ability to be an academic source, it cannot be an encyclopedia, but rather an informal reference, which is what Wiki is.

          • Pait

            If you read an academic paper you’ll see that it requires more depth in the sources than an encyclopedia is able to provide. Of course an encyclopedia can serve as reference for facts that are peripheral to the main argument of the paper; however if it is the main source, then the paper is not advancing knowledge and therefore doesn’t merit publication in a scientific journal.

            As for you distinction between a generic encyclopedia and the much superior Wikipedia, it’s nonsense.

          • If you used an encyclopedia as a source for any academic paper I would laugh you out of my classroom. As for Wikipedia, I expect students to start their research there and then move on from the references provided. It is an amazing tool for research, but like any source it suffers from the biases of its contributors.

      • Disappeared4x

        I find wiki very useful for quick memory checks, on history and geography, but do notice the bias with people in politics.
        Bigger issue has been that, after being downsized3x, I counted on a more durable affiliation with my college, and classmates. oops.

    • Greg Olsen

      I too have stopped giving to my almae matres. Where do my donations go now? The Coast Guard Foundation.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Mine go to FIRE and Corgi Rescue

    • FriendlyGoat

      Wikipedia is one of the simple best ideas going and one of the best defenses against orchestrated ignorance.

      • Disappeared4x

        “orchestrated ignorance” of leftist academia was what triggered the reaction of voters to kick the O’democrats out of power, forever.

        Please do not respond. Your words are a physical assault that is very painful. This is my cognitive patch.

        Sometimes, wiki really is just about looking something up online for breakfast:


    • Boritz

      Having retired recently I decided to take a course at the university in my town. OMG the snowflakes! I spend three hours a week tiptoeing through the minefield. At best half my effort is left to apply to the nominal subject matter. What was I thinking.

  • Suzy Dixon

    Campus left is code for communists who hate democracy and free speech. They are just as much the cause for the Dems loss as the detached establishment is.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Most of the real communists on campus are in the faculty. The students are far too ignorant to even know what a communist is….

  • Beauceron

    “that could get students and faculty in trouble for controversial remarks related to race and gender”

    This is the sort of thing that has led to the Left ruling campuses like despots. The flaccid refusal to draw a distinction and name the problem.

    Faculty and students would NOT get into “trouble for controversial remarks related to race and gender” if they were female commenting on white males or a person of color commenting on just about any subject. It very much depends on who the speaker is (People Of Color can say what they want) and who the target is (you can say whatever you want about white people).

    One rule. Not many rules depending on who is speaking and who the target is. One rule that everyone should obey.

  • Anthony

    “The persistent conflict between tribal morals and universal justice has manifested itself throughout history in a recurrent clash between the sense of loyalty and that of justice. It is still loyalty to such particular groups as those of occupation or class as well as those of clan, nation, race or religion which is the greatest obstacle to a universal application of rules of just conduct. Only slowly and gradually do those general rules of conduct towards all fellow men come to prevail over the special rules which allowed the individual to harm the stranger if it served the interest of the group.” (F.A. Hayek, The Mirage of Social Justice)

  • Psalms564

    I think what the participation trophy generation is forgetting is that if you get into a fight you can end up losing, and losing badly. I’d strongly suggest everyone contemplate that possibility before getting into fights.

  • Pait

    Mark my prediction: the campus radicals will make the easy transition from far-left to far-right and start supporting the so-called president’s Bannonite regime as soon as it consolidates power, if this once and perhaps still proudly free nation allows it to.

    • seattleoutcast

      I find it interesting that a blog post that points out the failures of the left for allowing free speech on campus is immediately derailed into a thread about The Upcoming Winter in Free Speech by the Right Wing. More psychological projection coming from the democrats. I for one, have not seen any violence or threats coming from right wingers on any campus.

      But it’s hard to argue with secular fanatics.

      • Pait

        There are very few right-wing extremists on campus, and the more or less mainstream campus left doesn’t tend to be very violent.

        I expect that to change as the far-left makes the smooth transitions to the far-right, although perhaps college campuses will continue to disapprove of physical violence in pursuit of ideological goals.

        • seattleoutcast

          While the violent behavior on the left is not seen on every campus, their tyrannical behavior to republicans is the norm on most campuses. Several well known conservatives don’t feel comfortable on campus anymore. As the post mentioned above, the amount of disinviting as increased dramatically.

          • Pait

            Correct, there is a disturbing level of anti-free speech activity in campuses. Leadership has to find a difficult balance between letting different sides talk.

            As I wrote, I expect that the anti-freedom caucus will transition easily from the far-left to the far-right, at which point they may become as violent as you first stated then retracted, both times in a cavalier manner.

          • Spencer

            I would be VERY interested to hear how you expect this transition to occur – how the rainbow-haired, skinny-jeaned, genderqueer crybabies of the campus left will make this journey to being Trumpfans.

            Justferexampul, open borders (which is a universal article of faith in their catechism) – how they get from here to there? BLM? The Patriarchy? These are non-negotiables to them. What happens?

            No, seriously. I want to hear it. I’m fascinated. Even the barest sketch would be fine.

            (And no rhetorical jiu-jitsu saying that the Right will take advantage of precedents set by the “anti-freedom caucus” – you clearly imply that the SAME PERSONNEL will transition to Trumpism – “the campus radicals will make the easy transition”.)

            Have at it.

          • Pait

            The individual students will graduate. The issues will fade.

            The art of abuse without any intellectual content, of arguing by code words and name-calling, which you have so successfully mastered, will stay, and be deployed with greater oppressive effect when it aligns itself with the goals of the regime.

          • Spencer

            Haha, called it.

          • Jim__L

            Have you ever considered that if only you can hear the dog whistles, you’re the dog?

          • Pait

            Was that an attempt at rational argument? If so, how does it relate with the previous comments?

          • Jim__L

            You’re talking about “codewords”. Have you ever considered the idea that these words aren’t code, and mean exactly what they say?

          • Pait

            It seems the answers to my questions are “no” and “it doesn’t”.

          • Jim__L

            I’m questioning your assumptions. Isn’t that what critical thinking and argument are supposed to be about?

            Oh wait, only when they’re weapons against things that Leftists oppose. Right.

          • Pait

            The relationship between your posts and the arguments is unclear. I mean nonexistent. What are the assumptions that your phrase about dog whistles are supposed to question?

            That was a rhetorical question. I had asked it before, and you were unable to explain. This conversation is a waste of time.

          • Jim__L

            You are accusing Spencer of using “code words”, which are sometimes referred to as “dog whistles”.

            I’m questioning the validity of that line of reasoning, suggesting that instead of speaking in “code” (or “dog whistles” that only conservatives can hear), it is far more likely conservatives mean what they actually say.

            Talking about “code words” is one of the common defense mechanisms the Left has against evidence that doesn’t fit with its delusions.

          • Pait

            Look back at Spencer’s post and verify that it was constructed with words of abuse rather than coherent reasoning.

            Or don’t. I see that you desire to “win” internet debates, whatever that means. Let’s just agree that you won.

          • Spencer

            Your posts – repeatedly – use the word “transition”, indicating a moving across. And your posts spoke only of groups transitioning – “radicals will … transition from far-left to far-right” “the far-left makes the smooth transitions to the far-right” “the anti-freedom caucus will transition easily from the far-left to the far-right”. Not abstractions like “campus radicalism”, nor behaviors like noisy protests, but only groups are making these transitions in your posts.

            The Left will move to the Right during the Trump years? That’s an arresting idea! I wanted to hear more!

            Alas, as I suspected, your point was far more pedestrian – that the Left may see its own tactics adopted by the right. This has been warned of (and threatened) by the right for a very long time. In fact, by now it’s become an almost tired point among conservatives that this is a possible outcome, though it’s nice that some on the left have made the connection as well.

            But you chose to express this commmonplace as: “What awful people the folks on the other side are! Tomorrow they may do the horrible things that my own side does today. How low can you go!” What a sad, unskillful rhetorical trick. Weak tea.

            I might also point out that your responses immediately became personal towards me, and I have not bothered to reciprocate. That is so satisfying.

          • Pait

            Yeah, right. Have the last word. No one will read it anyway.

          • Spencer

            You’re the only the one I wanted to read it, so I’m satisfied. I suspect you’ll post again, though!

            ; )

        • Johannessen

          so basically you are saying, in your view, if you protest peacefully, they’re left wing protesters. but, as soon as they become violent, suddenly they’re right-wing?

          • Pait

            No, I am stating the #fact that far left protests on campus have been overwhelmingly peaceful, though not always imbued with the best democratic values, in the last couple of decades; and my prediction, which may or not come to pass, that the currently quiet or nonexistent far right will become more visible, and perhaps violent as well.

          • Johannessen

            Sorry, all you’re saying is if they’re violent, therefore they must be right wing. Stating it doesn’t make it true. Just look at Berkeley, those weren’t right-wing people starting fires. Or look at the left’s reaction to the election during the inauguration. Your assertion has no factual basis, just wishful thinking.

          • Pait

            I only state the #fact that far left protests on campus have been overwhelmingly peaceful. In the Berkeley case, the number of violent protesters was very small, but it is possible that a turn to more violent protests is happening. We will see.

          • Jim__L

            If you want to compare Right protests with Left protests, the peaceful, well-organized, and ultimately somewhat successful TEA Party movement certainly made a better impression (and left far, far less litter) than the anarchic, unhygenic, and ultimately futile Occupy movement.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Your theory of the chameleon changing color is an interesting thought. Consider this. Conservatives have enjoyed this particular joke line for years: “If one is not a liberal at 20, he/she has no heart. If one is not a conservative by 40, he/she has no brain”.

      I’ve always thought that whole thing was morally backwards and that the heart is supposed to grow more than the brain in 20 years’ time. Maybe if they go off to college and are fed the conservative line first, have 20 years to figure out why most of it is baloney, we do not end as with as many mean-spirited older people as we have now—–a generation hence. ???????

      • Pait

        The move from center-right to center-left, or vice-versa, tends to be an intellectual challenge – only happens with very thoughtful people, when the circumstances change.

        The move from extreme-right to extreme-left, or vice-versa, is comparatively much easier. It doesn’t require any change of heart or mind. The easy current example is the Wikileaks crowd.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Maybe the pendulum swings back and forth depending on what is leaked by whom, no?

          • Pait

            Perhaps. Perhaps not even that it necessary.

          • FriendlyGoat

            If we’re swinging left to right now, only “new revelation” is the key to swinging back left. Better call the hackers.

      • Tom

        Or the heart stays the same and the brain figures out that utopian ideologies don’t work. I realize that you consider that to be mean-spirited, but that’s not my problem.

        • FriendlyGoat

          “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” either works better for souls than laissez faire or the New Testament is a hoax. This is what a Christian is supposed to know by 40.

          • Tom

            And I know that how I demonstrate love for my neighbor is by voting in such a way as to incentivize him to remain in poverty.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Sounds like those long sentences from Chesterton to me.

          • Tom

            Let me be short: not my problem.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Quite a tell.

          • Tom

            Yes. It demonstrates that I have the humility to understand that I cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be.

  • Let us not forget that there have been many violent left-wing groups in the United States since the days of the Cold War. I’ve been to an extremely liberal university for the past few years, and believe me when I tell you that the hostility against even slightly conservative views there from both the students and the professors is overwhelming.

  • Andrew Allison

    And not just the Campus Left. Race relations, the destruction of the middle class, etc.are also part of the Obama legacy.

    • Disappeared4x

      adding to the O’legacy: the obstructionism in the U.S. Senate on cabinet confirmations. THIS is how the Dems want to be seen:
      All nasty talk, Never any action.
      Ironically, the only news on Perry and Zinke comes from Montana NPR, Feb 6, 2017, and THAT news was really difficult to find:

      “…While Representative Ryan Zinke awaits a full Senate confirmation vote to become the next secretary of the Interior under Donald Trump’s Administration, many Montanans are left wondering when that vote will actually happen. That includes Senator Jon Tester.

      “I’ve got a notion it will be next week, but remember my crystal ball is awful cloudy, and it could be few weeks out,” Tester says.

      Tester adds the Senate schedule is already full for this week.

      “They want to move on those four very controversial ones before they get to Perry and Zinke, and I think Perry and Zinke, neither one of those are near as controversial. I think that they’ll go through, it’s just a matter of getting them floor-time to send them through.”

      Six of the 23 cabinet positions that require Senate approval have been confirmed.

      Representative Zinke and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Trump’s pick for Energy Secretary, cleared a vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on January 31. ”

      Good thing Vol. 1 arrived, just as I got to Sept 1, 1939 in Vol. 2. Probably will not have a cabinet until April 1.

  • FluffyFooFoo

    I had a professor ask our class to boycott Chick-fil-A. A student spoke up and said, but “aren’t the owners Christian?”, and the professor said in a bigoted tone, “that’s the problem”. I’ve always wondered if this guy would have the courage to say if he thought the university should boycott Christian and Muslims students based on their views of gay marriage or whatever LGBT issue.

    Unbelievable bigotry.

    • FriendlyGoat

      It shouldn’t be lost on viewers that Chick-fil-a ran an ad during the Grammys using the music of Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now.
      That, for its church-based fans is not coincidental and it is not just about the eye-catching cow and Eat More Chicken.

  • PCB

    I think the United States is experiencing a new class of mercenary protestors, financed by the likes of Soros to disrupt and provoke dissent. For many college students, it probably has replaced selling of blood as the preferred way to supplement their beer budgets.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Can they call themselves centers of higher learning, if they refuse a reasoned debate of the opinions held by half the population? They are anti-American, and what they’re doing is a crime against 1st Amendment right of free speech. They’re criminals violating the “Rule of Law” that is responsible for American Affluence.

    • FriendlyGoat

      If they had a reasoned debate on the opinions held by the half of the population not present on the campuses now, could we just flip a coin on whether the debate judge is to be Rachel Maddow or Sarah Palin. No sense spending a lot of time on substance when a mere game of chance could settle everything in advance, no?

  • Marrkedman

    These thugs need a good old fashioned beat down, and some time behind bars worrying about how to safely pick up the soap in the shower. Many of these colleges should be investigated too for teaching this violence against the US.

  • JungleCogs

    What would one expect? Their Lord and Savior, Obama, was a Marxist.

  • DisgustedwithElitism

    Today’s campus militants are unwitting pawns in games of money and politics way beyond their ken and well over their heads.

    The issues they so passionately put forward are ALL about money – climate change “science,” immigration, “free” college, gender and ethnic studies, and so much more. Faculty and administrators get the money, students get debt.

    Political correctness is intellectual poison; it corrupts the mind’s ability to process information.

  • Makaden

    “Early modern incivility pitted rival versions of divine transcendence, but modern incivility is often fueled by those for whom political and social justice are the summum bonum. Without a world beyond, politics itself offers ultimate meaning, and political compromise becomes the gravest of sins. It is perhaps not generic “moral disagreement” that divides us moderns, but a more incommensurable difference over what is at stake as we negotiate the terms of our coexistence. For perfectionists whose heaven is earthly, the modus vivendi may be the road to hell.”
    –Jeffrey Collins,

  • Max Flasher

    I voted for Trump because I considered him infinitely better than anything on the hate whitey left. This excerpt from the article “A portrait of seven women for Trump” is a good example of why I voted for him. This excerpt is also a good example of why I consider leftists despicable.

    A portrait of seven women for Trump

    By Jayne Riew

    I’m a professor. I was at a conference when a woman told me to check my white privilege. What? She knew nothing about me other than the way I looked. Doesn’t that make HER a racist? In their mandatory “diversity” course at my university, my students are being taught that if they are white then they should feel white guilt. And it’s not just my university. We must be able to have open conversations in my profession without being called deplorable. If someone asks any of the “wrong” questions about race, they’re branded a racist, and their career can be over. I’ve seen it.

  • Prediction: Milo will return to Berkeley, deliver his address and the riots of last week will prove to be the highwater mark for Leftist street fighters. #Winning.

  • PeacePromoter

    New radical progressives = liberals
    Liberals = Democrats
    Democrats = this:

    “The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble: In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors’ mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday’s election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans.”

    • Jim__L

      Has radicalism helped the Left?

      Has Obamaism?

      (Has Leftism?)

      • PeacePromoter

        No, no, and no!

  • fredgill

    Fire hoses, tear gas and cattle prods seem like a pretty fair-minded response to Berkeley style “disinvitation” activists. At least, to begin with.

  • Prediction: Milo will return to Berkeley, deliver his address and the riots of last week will prove to be the highwater mark for Leftist street fighters. #Winning.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service