The flat-out bigotry of free speech on college campuses

This week’s fraud complaint against The White House is a travesty. It had as its premise that our presidents do not know what they are doing and, therefore, deserve to be held accountable. The complaint, to be fair, claimed President Trump’s remarks in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were intended to influence public opinion on his confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

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This claim is reckless. Nothing in the complaint, by the way, alleges that any US Supreme Court nominee or former nominee has ever said or acted in a manner to influence public opinion in favor of his or her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

If my Friday letter were sent to the office of the attorney general instead of the White House, it would not be a fraud, either. The letter addressed “Honorable Jeff Sessions” instead of “Dear Mr. Attorney General” would also not count as a fraud.

In addition, if I were to ask the White House to make me wear a costume to an upcoming campus appearance, the administration would not think it was an act of fraud. The vast majority of this country’s college campuses are run by left-wing faculty members who think creating a tyrannical persona to frighten students into silence is part of their job description. And it is not their job description to be Trump-hating fascists, nor are they encouraged to perpetrate the charade, in fact, they are supposed to be out to ridicule and mock these hip and young entertainers.

I’ve been wrestling with the thorny issue of whether or not I will go to college this fall, and school performances of “Hamilton” are a major reason. The patriotic song “Yorktown” almost plays off that sentiment. It’s easy to become a “fair patriot,” telling conservatives to be nice, but an hourlong show that features a very flag-waving rendering of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a really big ask. Maybe I could wear a mask and perform in disguise to explain to students how it’s all a hoax.

“It is much more likely that due to cowardice, ignorance, and confusion, than because of malicious intent, the effects of [American exceptionalism] have been diluted and diluted to the point that the term has little use in modern political discourse. This is the meaning of consent of the governed: we have both willingly and with relative ease, given up our freedom, because we have fallen victim to an insidious hoax.” — Edmund Burke

It’s not a lie if you believe that the word “hero” belongs more in song lyrics than on stage; it’s not an outright lie if you believe what the founders meant by “the spirit of liberty” and that this democracy cannot exist without it. Only celebrities and masters of disguise know who they are, but only they, or some of them, can come to the aid of a common folk like me who must continually sing the lie:

“My words and thoughts are my own. These are not of the Kavanaughs and Slocombs, these are my words and thoughts. They are not the thoughts of Uncle Sam, them are my thoughts and words. They are not of a small group of autocrats, but of my own heart and mind. These are my words and thoughts, and of all of my deeds and signs, these are my words and thoughts.”

This national anthem selection makes me laugh. Why is the implication that all lyrics are, by nature, either good or bad? And why is the implication that all actions must be bad? Does singing that song today put the ideals of this country out of reach?

My question is not whether or not I should attend the upcoming performances, but rather, am I supposed to cover up my heritage in order to be able to enjoy the show? I can be pretty good at lip-syncing and skating to the beats of “I Will Survive.” Does that mean I’m supposed to pretend to be Pamela Anderson as well?

— Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review.


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