MILLER: Reviving the speaker ban at Chapel Hill 

Images of the N.C. State Belltower, UNC Chapel Hill Old Well, Wake Forest Wait Chapel and Duke University Chapel via AP/Public Domain.

Parts one and two in this series noted that administrators at State and Duke have issued plans requiring every student, faculty and staff member to undergo training to eliminate “racial injustice” and thereby to “right the wrongs” that “plague our country” and our universities.     

June also brought Carolina’s plan to stamp out “structural racism,” and, like the State and Duke plans, will require “every person in our community to learn new concepts about diversity, equity and inclusion.” But Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz’s plan will also require students and staff to tackle racism using “a common set of terms,” which most likely is code for “a correct set of terms.”   

As for students whose parents don’t know how to speak, think or act correctly, Carolina’s office for “diversity and inclusion” has posted a list of resources “white people and parents” can use to reform themselves. Included in the list is Ibram Kendi’s best seller How to Be an Antiracist, which holds that “anyone not actively engaged in this system-changing work is a collaborator with racism, and therefore himself a legitimate target for attack.” No doubt Carolina’s office for “diversity and inclusion” will approve Kendi’s attack on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for being one of those “White colonizers” who use their black children “as props in their lifelong pictures of denial.”      

None of which has surprised anyone who has known about Carolina’s longstanding reputation as a haven for leftists who teach students how to be an anti-conservative — and how to silence those suspected of holding an “intransigent” point of view. I’m betting everyone has heard Carolina graduates refer to their alma mater as “the People’s Republic of Chapel Hill.”  

In 2006, I saw up close and personal that a self-imposed gag order can provide cover for certain professors as well.   

Researching an article on the decline in literacy among university graduates, I asked two UNC English professors to comment on a report that a band of “race-gender-class” theorists had “hijacked” the English department to advance a leftist agenda. Both professors agreed to talk, but only on condition of anonymity — after hours, on home phones — because neither wanted to be on record opposing colleagues who had devalued literature and redefined writing as “a form of social action.” Rather than risk a counterpunch, two of Carolina’s finest had simply retreated behind closed office doors.  

The dismantling of Silent Sam was inevitable, but the dismantling of American history is malpractice, pure and simple. 

Shortly after my article appeared, a Ph.D. candidate emailed to say he wanted to talk — but only if I promised not to reveal his identity. I promised, then learned that the “maiming” of literature had infected Carolina’s graduate program as well and that certain professors were acting as though their reappraisals of literature meant more and mattered more than the literature itself.  They were denying students the education they themselves were privileged to have, that is, if they had finished school before the Marxists, deconstructionists and gender theorists began, in the words of one critic, “plowing the field with salt.”  

Critics who thought that exposing the swindle would threaten leftist rule were dead wrong because other recent events confirm that the so-called tenured radicals are still in charge in Chapel Hill.   

At last November’s conference on free speech, communications professor and keynote speaker Eric Watts proposed restrictions on the free speech of a certain “culprit” that uses speech as an instrument “in the social construction of racism.” That culprit is none other than the Republican Party, that bastion of “racism, homophobism, xenophobism, and misogyny,” which “threatens the norms and institutions of American democracy.”   

It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to suspect that Dr. Watts’ real mission was to urge attendees to advance that message in the classroom  in the lead-up to the 2020 election.  

While Chancellor Guskiewicz and Professor Watts aim to subdue a campus community to one way of thinking, celebrated Carolina alum Nikole Hannah-Jones aims to subdue a nation to her sinister re-imagining of American history. On June 3, Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism recognized Hannah-Jones for inventing the 1619 Project, which asserts that “America Wasn’t a Democracy Until Black Americans Made it One.”   

No one would deny that slavery is the great stain on our past — or deny the contributions African-Americans have made in shaping our nation. But when Hannah-Jones claims that historians have “largely treated slavery as an asterisk to the American story,” she adds one more blunder to her misbegotten screed.   

The dismantling of Silent Sam was inevitable, but the dismantling of American history is malpractice, pure and simple.  

During the Q&A portion of the conference on free speech, a student asked panelists to comment on their proposal to restrict “right-wing” speech only. The panelist who responded explained that free speech can be used to “silence and harm others,” and there was no mistaking that in his mind the perpetrators of harm are uniformly conservative.   

In the mind of leftists, the word “right-wing” represents all that must be silenced — and in Chapel Hill they are well on their way to achieving that aim.