The National Pulse
Photo credit: Jennifer Moo via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Goodbye, Freedom of Speech. Hello, “Diversity.”

This article is part of series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

In one of her Liberty Minutes, called “Totalitarianism on Campus,” Helen Krieble spoke about the censorship that often occurs in the name of political correctness:

Many of us see America as the land of opportunity, but if you teach at the University of California, you’d better not say so. It’s one of a number of prohibited phrases now. Ordinary thoughts such as, “Everyone can succeed if they work hard enough” are now called  microaggressions, considered examples of subconscious racism. So, in the hiring process, deans are not allowed to ask normal questions like, “Where are you from?” or worse yet to say “The most qualified person should get the job.”

University officials should look through the Lens of Liberty and remember that freedom of thought, opinion, and expression is a bedrock principle of American society. Is someone’s twisted view of political correctness more important than preserving our freedom?

The University of California policy that Krieble is referring to involves a list of banned phrases which have been deemed examples of microaggression by a UCLA diversity and inclusion council. Some of the supposed microaggressions and their determined meanings are completely absurd:

  • Everyone can succeed if they work hard enough. ― People of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.
  • Where are you from? ― You are not a true American.
  • The most qualified person should get the job. ― People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.
  • America is a melting pot. ―  Denying the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history.
  • How did you become so good in math? ― People of color are generally not as intelligent as Whites.

Asking where someone is from or how he or she gained a certain skill are ordinary questions which are rarely, if ever, asked for racist reasons. While genuine racism still undoubtedly exists in this country, this list goes far beyond that, fabricating supposedly bigoted assumptions where none, in fact, exist.

We’ve seen this too much recently. In the name of political correctness, liberal colleges are silencing opinions which university leadership determines are “offensive.” Many schools have banned conservative speakers, fired professors who hold certain views, and set up “safe spaces” where only certain sentiments are allowed to be expressed.

With this list of alleged microaggressions, the University of California is expanding the realm of forbidden speech and further infringing on the First Amendment. We would all be better served if, rather than trying to ban phrases any sane person is not offended by, our universities and colleges instead focused on fostering true academic freedom and authentic education.

Photo credit: Jennifer Moo via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.