Dartmouth thought police on patrol

by Jeffrey Hart | 5/4/93 10:00pm

My colleague and good friend George Will has focused a kleig light on an outrage at the University of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the outrage is not a mere local phenomenon at Penn.

In a recent column, Will reports that black students at Penn have been confiscating some 14,000 copies of the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. The black students met delivery trucks, seized the papers and dumped them in trash bins.

Why? The black students disapprove of a columnist carried by the paper named Gregory Pavlik, whose column is robustly conservative along the general lines of Rush Limbaugh. Thus the black students appointed themselves the guardians of what their fellow students could or could not read.

Penn President Sheldon Hackney has recently been nominated by Bill Clinton to be the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Did Hackney issue a stern statement about censorship and book-burning? Did he invoke university discipline to protect freedom of expression?

You bet he didn't. He made an amazing statement. He regretted that "two important university values, diversity and open expression, seem to be in conflict."

Come again? Insofar as I can translate this statement, it seems to mean that black students, precisely because they are black -- "diversity" -- have some sort of a special right to interfere with "open expression."

This allocation of race-based special privilege violates the very essence of a university. It elevates politics above knowledge.

Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the same thing is currently happening at Dartmouth. The Dartmouth Review has gained national attention in its 12 year campaign against political correctness. It has 10,000 paid subscribers, has won journalism awards and such former editors as Dinesh D'Souza have gone on to fame and high intellectual achievement. The Review is distributed free to Dartmouth undergraduates, left outside their dormitory rooms.

A group of black students associated with the apartheid dormitory and social club called Shabazz Hall decided that they did not like this. They followed the students distributing the newspaper and confiscated as many copies as they could manage. When students objected and asked for their copies, they were insulted and refused. Erica Greenwood '95 was shoved around by Amiri Barksdale '96 and called a "white bimbo" and a "f---ing whore."

According to the Dartmouth College Student Handbook, "freedom of expression and dissent is protected by College regulations." In my opinion the black thuggish thought police are violating Dartmouth regulations.

And so, for that matter is Dean of Students Lee Pelton, whose responsibility it is to enforce those regulations. Pelton could have made an eloquent statement about censorship -- "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death," etc. -- and disciplined the censors. He could have deplored such terms as "white bimbo."

And, after all, Dartmouth is the place where Dwight Eisenhower made his famous 1953 Commencement address about book-burning. But that was another time, and evidently in another place, a different college with the same name.

Sixty years ago in Berlin, Nazi students infamously burned piles of books. In 1993, the bully boys are at it again, hurling racial epithets against whites and confiscating discourse.

And doing so with official approval. Pelton refuses to enforce the free-expression regulations of his own College. The Dartmouth press spokesman, Alex Huppe, gave it as his curbstone opinion that the newspaper is "litter." That was a poor statement even by his standards.

John Meyer, the representative from New Hampshire to the American Civil Liberties Union, would have none of this slime: "It's all very well to say something is litter. The fact is the effort is not campus beautification but focused on one piece of literature because of the ideas expressed."

In the ordinary daylight world of mainstream America, events such as this would be absurd and shocking.

Unfortunately they are pretty routine in the nightmare world of the contemporary university. There, black students enjoy an enormous across-the-board double-standard as regards acceptable behavior. Anyone objecting to this is, of course, called a -- guess what? -- "racist."

But in Milton's words, "be not disheartened."

The book-burning thugs and their liberal sponsors in the Dartmouth administration are not going to win this one. You can bet on that.