Charles Murray Quote

"In the fall of 2004, at the height of a presidential campaign that was even more bitterly fought than usual, my daughter, a Middlebury sophomore at the time, took a course in political philosophy. At Thanksgiving dinner, I asked her about the professor’s politics. My daughter thought for a moment, and said, “I don’t know.” It was a powerful example of what a college is supposed to be about. The professor was a devoted teacher of political philosophy who believed her own politics had no place in the classroom. That she was decidedly liberal (I later learned), was irrelevant.

Twelve and a half years later, on March 2, 2017, I came to Middlebury to deliver a lecture on the growing class divide between America’s elites and its working class. I was shouted down by Middlebury students and then attacked by a mob. The administration’s response was disgracefully tepid.

I thought that my experience in 2017 had to represent the nadir of Middlebury’s descent from the jewel of a college it had been in 2004. I was wrong. In 2017, Middlebury’s administration had at least not taken the initiative to keep me from speaking. Now, in renaming the Mead Memorial Chapel, Middlebury’s leaders are instigating a betrayal of its mission. The justification is that Governor Mead once expressed opinions that were widely held in that era by a broad cross-section of the nation’s most distinguished politicians, scholars, and jurists. Whether they were right or wrong is as irrelevant as the political philosophy professor’s politics in 2004. The betrayal consists of teaching young people that we can sit in judgment on individuals in the past and unerringly condemn those whose views are not those of an ideology that happens to be regnant in America’s colleges in the early 2020s. That position—“We at this moment in history are in possession of the truth, and everyone past and present who does not agree with us must be cast into outer darkness”—is the essence of the totalitarian mentality. It is diametrically opposed to the spirit of intellectual inquiry and moral generosity that must be conveyed to each new generation if a free society is to endure."

Charles Murray

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