Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Dr. Carol Swain was born in segregated Virginia. The second of twelve children, she grew up sharing a bed with her sisters in a shack that had no running water. Her family was so poor that she had no shoes and had to stay home from school when the weather was bad. She never did make it to high school.
And now 1,400 leftist fascists have signed a petition to Vanderbilt University demanding that one of the most respected African-American scholars in this country take diversity training or be “terminated.”
The petition to force a conservative black woman to undergo diversity training comes from Nick Goldbach, a white hipster student and self-described “urban enthusiast” who claims that working as a waiter at a “sustainable” luxury urban resort in Connecticut taught him about “common humanity.”
Nick cares about “civil rights and social action,” “chic and unassuming” dining experiences and getting a black woman whose writings about race and racism were cited by Supreme Court justices fired.
And once that’s done, Nick and a few of his closest social justice warrior pals can celebrate with another “chic and unassuming” dining experience. Dr. Swain had worked her way up from a GED to a PhD by taking a job at McDonald’s where the dining experiences are unassuming, if not especially chic.
Dr. Swain’s fiercest critics have always been hypocritical white leftists who claim to speak for minorities. She was targeted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization whose white leftist bosses have made a fortune from exploiting black people. Now she has run afoul of angry white social justice hipsters who claim that she “espouse(s) hate towards minorities” and that a black woman who grew up under segregation needs “diversity training.”
Joining the campaign against Dr. Swain is Emmie Arnold, a grad student, running a letter writing campaign to get the most prominent African-American scholar at Vanderbilt fired because poor, dear Emmie feels an “obligation to advocate with and for people who are being oppressed.”
Emmie Arnold is white, feminist, gluten-free and encourages followers on Tumblr to “pay for the convenience of upscale grocery stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joes.” She was a member of two sororities. When she isn’t shopping at upscale grocery stores, she’s fighting “oppression” by oppressing an African-American scholar who grew up experiencing real oppression and is still being oppressed by the likes of Emmie and Nick and a few hundred of their closest Facebook friends.
Emmie, who isn’t even at Vanderbilt, has accused Dr. Swain of creating an “unsafe environment for students who face enough danger off campus.” What danger does a 61-year-old African-American PhD pose to Vanderbilt students? Does she beat them up in hallways? Does she secretly tempt them with gluten? Does she menace them with sharp objects while they sip Organic Kale Tonic from Whole Foods?
How did Dr. Swain create this “unsafe environment”? By being an unapologetic Christian who remains true to her faith. By staying true to the political and social conservative values that had enabled her to rise from poverty to a PhD. By refusing to be censored by the campus social justice warriors who claim that fighting oppression means eliminating dissent. By speaking out against Islamic violence and racism.
It was only a matter of time until her spirit of truthtelling caught the attention of the furious campus activists who fight free speech and gluten with equal vigor.
Dr. Swain represents everything that they abhor; religious faith, hard work, reason and common sense.
When Dr. Swain responded to their insulting racist petition by saying that “[o]nly an idiot would think a 61-year-old black woman who has spent most of her life in academia would benefit from sensitivity training,” she was accused of ableism.
The professor had committed the ultimate hate crime. She had been insensitive to idiots.
And there are a lot of angry idiots on campus these days. Meanspirited little fascists driven to destroy anyone who reminds them of their own worthlessness, their shallowness and their ignorance.
Dr. Swain’s hard work, her accomplishments remind them that they’re privileged brats playing at social justice, organizing cultural revolutions out of spite, silencing ideas because they can’t win arguments.
As John Proctor says in The Crucible, when confronting a system gone mad, animated by the denunciations of vicious brats, “Now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!" That is what is happening all over again today.
Alyssa Janco, another white Vanderbilt student targeting Dr. Swain, barks, “Professor Swain is free to believe and say whatever she'd like; but freedom of speech does not equate to freedom from consequences.” That exact argument has been used by every totalitarian regime in the world. It is telling that the left has embraced the argument that it once rejected simply because it is in power now.
Sinclair Lewis was wrong. When fascism came to America, it came wrapped in tolerance and sensitivity. Petition signers claim they want Dr. Swain purged because they “care about everyone feeling welcome, safe and accepted” or “a community of acceptance and welcoming.” It’s intolerance in the name of tolerance. The only way to be truly welcoming and accepting is to drive out those who disagree.
“No one should feel unwelcome at Vanderbilt,” a signer writes, while signing a petition to make Dr. Swain unwelcome at Vanderbilt. Petitioners complain that Dr. Swain had spoken negatively about Islam while ridiculing her own Christian faith. But, like all fanatics, they are insensitive to their own hypocrisy.
The last word on the petition belongs to Xinzhu Zhou who firmly states that, "People who think their beliefs are better than others' beliefs should not be credited as tenured professors." If believing that something is right and another thing is wrong disqualifies one as a professor, what will intellectual debate consist of? Intellectual debate won’t exist. There will be a consensus of mandatory agreement.
And intellectual debate is rapidly vanishing from campuses under pressure from mobs of crybullies whining that they feel unsafe because someone has been allowed to disagree with them. Intimidated administrators afraid of losing their jobs abandon the values of discourse and look for a human sacrifice.
Instead of defending Dr. Swain’s right to her religion and her ideas, Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos echoed the grievances of the petitioners and only mentioned freedom of speech in the third paragraph of his statement as allowing for “the expression of unpopular and offensive views.”
He promised to “bring Vanderbilt’s core values to bear” on their demands for Dr. Swain’s head.
Dr. Swain has posted that she believes, “That this is more than a student led and initiated movement. I feel that there has been a bounty on my head ever since I stood up for the Christian groups on campus. We fought the battle for almost three years and lost.”
No doubt she is right.
Cultural revolutions use angry student activists as foot soldiers, but behind them are adults angling for power. The Red Guard or Hitler Youth member who beat teachers or smashed store windows was a puppet in the hands of cruel and cynical men and women. Some of them would eventually regret what they had done, the people whose lives they had ruined for the cause, but by then it was often too late.
The students targeting Dr. Swain claim to be “fighting oppression.” But true resistance to oppression is in fighting oppressors. Fighting oppression by destroying free speech and silencing dissent is just oppression no matter how much hypocritical self-righteous makeup it wears to the dance.
The left is taking off its masks. It has given up pretending that it believes in rights and freedoms. Now, in its final stage, it imposes oppression in the name of tolerance and sensitivity. It claims that eliminating the opposition is the only way to make its oppressed oppressors feel safe and welcomed.
The fight for Dr. Swain’s academic freedom and her freedom of speech is the true fight against oppression.
Dr. Swain has been fighting against real oppression generations before her attackers were even old enough to complain that gluten in their light beers is oppression. She lived under segregation. She rose up from crushing poverty. And she is still standing strong against her oppressors today.