Duggan Flanakin is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, “Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout.”
Campus radicals are revealing that their goals are far more radical than “saving the Earth.”
Remember when campus protests were about human rights? The 1960s were rife with protest, and opposition to racism quickly turned to opposition to a war in Vietnam that saw over 50,000 Americans die for what seemed to be nothing at all.
The antiwar protests, however, were coopted by a New Left featuring such stalwarts as Tom Hayden, Kathy Boudin, Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, and other young activists, along with polemicists like Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin of the Institute for Policy Studies.
As a young reporter with the Washington Free Press, I was on the inside of what became the great divide between what Liberation News Service co-founder Raymond Mungo called the Virtuous Caucus and the Vulgar Marxists.
When Mungo and fellow LNS co-founder Marshall Bloom moved their printing press to demonstrate their lack of support for the violence espoused by the Weather Underground, the zealots drove up and beat Bloom nearly to death.
As Mungo recounts in his book “Famous Long Ago,” in the middle of the beating, one of Bloom’s associates screamed, “You’re going to kill him!” To which his oppressors replied, “Yes we will kill him, and not just him, if we don’t get what we came for.” They meant the printing press and the LNS treasury – which legally belonged to the founders, not the usurpers.
Bloom had believed that the Vulgar Marxists would not use violence to get their way, thinking that, if they did, “their case before the Movement, underground editors, and the public would be destroyed … violence would prove beyond a doubt our contention that this crowd was moved by hatred and despair, not peace and love.”
How wrong he was. They didn’t care.
Today, Boudin’s son Chessa was just booted as District Attorney in San Francisco – too far left for even that city, while Raskin’s son Jamie is a leftist member of Congress pondering a run for the U.S. Senate. Ayers and Dohrn emerged from 11 years in hiding to boost the career of a young community organizer and future President who pushed this nation far to the Left. And their hate-filled followers now hold sway in many American universities and centers of power.
Many of the Virtuous Caucus types joined with Gaylord Nelson to celebrate Earth Day, but, according to Northwestern University history professor Keith M. Woodhouse, the New Left early on saw the Green movement as bourgeois.
Radical interest in the Green movement grew quickly as the battle shifted from “criteria pollutants” to “decarbonization,” which they rightly saw as an engine for weakening Western civilization. Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil have their roots in New Left Marxism. Even Greta Thunberg voices tacit support for Hamas.
Campus radicals shifted from “free speech” to banning speech that challenged their growing power. Their blatant hatred of their “enemies” is a far cry from the energy that drove the civil rights movement. The New Left scoffed at Dr. King’s, mantra, “Hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that.”
Two decades ago, a pro-Palestinian Jewish student at Rutgers University tried to stop a speech on “A Jewish Perspective of the Road to Peace” by Natan Sharansky, a Soviet dissident and Israeli human rights activist. In his speech, Sharansky noted that the American college campus was “a real Israeli-Palestinian battlefield.”
How the hate for Jews has grown on campus and in the streets. During the Ferguson riots of 2014, many “protesters” were heard shouting, “From the river to the sea.”
Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression [FIRE] executive Nico Perrino recently warned that, “America is experiencing two disturbing simultaneous trends: the rise of mob censorship to shut down speaking events on college campuses, and an attempt to justify it as merely the exercise of ‘more speech’.”
Condemning “the heckler’s veto,” Perrino said, “Shouting down speakers is just like any other form of censorship. Hecklers,” he added, “always feel justified in their actions. That’s why justifications for censorship should not be allowed to outweigh principles of free speech.”
Today’s Green movement follows Al Gore’s revised mantra that “decarbonization” [only by the West] become “the central organizing principle of civilization.” Thus, the theme of the 2017 People’s Climate March was “To change everything, it takes everyone.”
“Everything” goes way beyond climate. It means worldwide revolution against the West and the destruction of its values.
When environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was invited to speak at Duke University in 2021, a local group called Sunrise Movement Durham claimed it was “unacceptable” to allow this “climate denier” to speak on campus. He was “the wrong kind” of environmentalist whose views were “dangerous.”
Many observers have cited the increase in violence and aggressive behavior in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Yet it was during the pandemic that Antifa and BLM radicals burned federal buildings, looted stores, and injured and killed police during hundreds of violent riots.
That violence has escalated today, as pro-Hamas supporters savage Jews and the world teeters on the brink of a wider war. The much more destructive (to nations and the environment) Russia-Ukraine conflict never sparked violent demonstrations.
Long before Mungo’s “vulgar Marxists” got physical, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others seized power violently and used violence to control citizens. Gaza elected the murderous Hamas billionaires who use their children as pawns and keep them poor because their poverty is Hamas’ biggest fundraising weapon.
The blame for the triumph of hate over love lies not with the haters but with those who have, in the name of love, empowered and glorified them. The New Left and its children now control thought and speech on far too many American campuses – where dialectic has replaced dialogue and any departure from their diktats is cause for condemnation.
Today, leftists outnumber conservatives on university faculties and staff by a nine-to-one margin, even larger for nontenured assistant professors. The most unbalanced groups are professors of anthropology, sociology, and English, but the number is still 3 to 1 for economics professors.
Who let this happen? Public universities can be held to account by lawmakers and the citizenry, but neither has stepped up to challenge the dominant dialectic that the founders were merely racists and thus all their ideas, and the nation built on them, are today’s garbage.
Who has stood up against this constant barrage of hate speech against those who crossed the Atlantic in small boats, fleeing from an oppressive government that sought to control their thoughts and actions?
Today, the horrific hatred against Jews has prompted a few universities to take baby steps to protect Jewish students and tone down the jihadist rhetoric endorsed by Antifa and BLM.
But no one has addressed the root causes that have turned America’s future leaders into Jew haters. Nor have they recognized that the Jew hatred is but a symbol of their hatred of the entirety of Western civilization.
A recent poll showed that a majority of American college students favor censoring speech deemed unacceptable by the Marxist dialectic – which out of convenience and opportunity has seized on every fringe cause that undermines the moral foundations of Western society.
When President Obama invoked a “red line” in Syria, President Assad laughed, knowing Obama lacked the appetite to follow through. It is time for America to regain its appetite for human freedom on our campuses and throughout our society.