This week, I gave a talk at Stanford on the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of Western Culture. Though no students objected, two members of the university’s administration sent out a newsletter portraying me as an anti-Muslim bigot. They said it was “unacceptable” I should speak on such a topic during the celebration of Ramadan. They managed — as they surely intended — to stir up some trouble, though not enough to bring the event to a halt.
Shame on them. For college administrators to try to convince college students that it is “unacceptable” for them to hear ideas they might disagree with is simply wicked. In my response from the podium, I explained that there are only two systems of speech: free speech and speech that is controlled by the powerful. If speech is going to be silenced on the grounds that it is hateful, you have to ask the question: who decides? The answer is always the same: the powerful — the government, the administration, big business, the mob. And it is never very long before “hateful” speech turns into “speech people in power disagree with.” That is why, for speech to be free, it must be free for everyone, even those we dislike. . .
These are not honorable sallies in a war of ideas. These are acts of force meant to seize terrain.
This is what Donald Trump understands that too many conservative intellectuals miss. The belligerent and obstreperous Trump was called to the presidency by voters who know that, while the war of ideas can and should be waged politely by American friends, a war for terrain is a much uglier business.
Thus, also this week, the Trump Administration boldly refused to join the so-called Christchurch Call, a Global agreement by 18 nations to censor online speech. Also this week, the Trump Administration launched a website where you can file a complaint if you feel you’ve been censored on social media for your political opinions. (Read more from “What Donald Trump Knows That Conservative Intellectuals Don’t” HERE)