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The grovels of Academe

By Michael J. Smith on Monday March 30, 2009 03:25 PM

I never cease to be amused by the gaping chasm between Academe's bold image of itself as a haven of fearless unfettered inquiry, and the craven reality. Latest instance:

Banned in Boston

The norm for protests over a William Ayers appearance on campus these days is for conservative critics to say that the University of Illinois at Chicago professor shouldn't be given a forum to speak because of the past violence of the Weather Underground, of which he was once a leader.

At Boston College, the debate has taken a new twist -- with the college calling off a talk by Ayers planned for tonight and citing a police killing that has never been definitively linked to the Weather Underground and that Ayers and others insist his group had nothing to do with. Nonetheless, that 1970 police killing is still associated by many in Boston with the Weather Underground and remains a political flashpoint -- as became clear on Friday.

Michael Graham, a local talk radio host, started calling on Boston College to revoke the invitation to Ayers, and he encouraged alumni, donors and others to call the college to demand that it deny Ayers a forum. Graham repeatedly linked Ayers and the Weather Underground to the 1970 killing of Walter Schroeder, the police officer, who was responding to a bank robbery by a group of radical students....

Boston College issued a statement in which it acknowledged barring Ayers.... "As a university, we pride ourselves on the free expression of ideas and on the prestige that Boston College holds as a destination of choice among prominent speakers. But we are also aware of the obligation we hold to be respectful of our host community. The emotional scars of the murder of Boston Police Sergeant Walter Schroeder, allegedly at the hands of the Weather Underground, which left nine children fatherless in the shadows of this campus, was an issue that we could not ignore."

So the college called off the event, the statement said, "out of respect for the Schroeder family and out of concern for the safety and well being of our students. We believe that, in light of these unique circumstances, the appropriate decision was made in this case."

Comments (2)


One can understand why Victor Klemperer's feelings about his fellow profs will not grace the walls of a faculty room any time soon. When Mussolini demanded a public kowtow from the professoriat, about 1% didn't end up on all-fours.

Michael Hureaux:

One might think that the Obamian "paradigm of a generation of activists under 30" "trained in the art of debate and discussion" that Ayers/Dohrn spoke for in MR this month would speak up at such a moment, but the kitty seems to have taken off with their tongues.

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