…it would be absurd to subscribe to the author the unintended consequences of an author’s statements without considering the circumstances which surround them. It is, however, equally absurd to pretend that the ideological history of a work’s consequences are entirely extrinsic. — Jürgen Habermas
With all its limitations and distortions, democratic tolerance is under all circumstances more humane than an institutionalized intolerance which sacrifices the rights and liberties of the living generations for the sake of future generations. — Herbert Marcuse
As we saw from his March 17 webcast, William Lind was not inclined to consider taking any responsibility whatsoever for the (presumably) unintended consequences of his rhetoric. This is not to say, however, that he isn’t eager to take credit for political influence his ideas may on powerful state actors.
In his March 24 webcast, Lind revealed the “scoop” that his initiative may have inspired President Trump’s executive order to protect conservative speech on university campuses. “We have,” Lind boasted, “what I think is the inside story on one of last week’s news events — mainly the President Trump’s announcement that 35 billion dollars worth of federal funding for higher education is going to be tied to freedom of thought and expression on college and university campuses.” According to Lind, what happened is that, as a board member of a conservative group of Dartmouth University alumni, he wrote a memo — subsequently forwarded to the White House by a well connected board member — that recommended substantially the steps taken by Trump in his executive order.
This, by the way, is a basic rule of politics. If you’re going bottom-up you come in as a supplicant. You’re either ignored or kicked in the teeth. The way you get something to happen politically is to come in top-down. You come on… you come down on the center you’re targeting from a higher political level. Well there’s no higher level obviously than the White House.
Lind made it plain throughout his eleven minute discourse that the “freedom of thought” he is seeking to protect is specifically conservative thought (“we all know very well what happens to conservatives on campus — how often they are persecuted.”) As Lind read from his memo:
The problem of discrimination against conservative faculty, students and outside speakers by colleges and universities is not restricted to Dartmouth. It has become general throughout academia. The same college administrators and faculty members who demand diversity in all things also require uniformity in the one area most important to any academic institution – thought. And the ideas that contradict political correctness — including arguments for free markets, traditional morals and Western Judaeo-Christian culture — are subject to censorship. Faculty, students and speakers who express conservative views find their careers threatened, face college discipline or are simply shouted down with no penalties imposed on those who threaten violence.
The origin of these practices is Herbert Marcuse’s essay on liberating tolerance, which called for tolerance for all ideas and viewpoints coming from the left and intolerance of all ideas and viewpoints coming from the right. This is what college administrators and professors now mean when they call for tolerance.
Lind took the timing of Trump’s announcement — just a couple of weeks after Lind sent his memo — and the specific inclusion of targeting research funding to indicate strong circumstantial evidence that his memo was pivotal. “So I think there’s a pretty good chance circumstantially that it was our initiative that brought this about and if so again we have watched the mother of all Zeppelin strikes on the cultural Marxists.” Here he repeated the image he had introduced earlier in his account: “So what President Trump did this week there is a large Zeppelin raid directly on the enemy’s base and that’s significant.”
Lind continued on for three minutes on implementation of the policies announced by Trump before returning yet again to the trope of aerial bombardment:
The deep state obviously is going to hate all this because it’s populated by cultural Marxists, including in the trump administration, and they’re going to do their best to sabotage this with the old bureaucratic rule: delay is the the surest form of denial. They will be hoping to make sure nothing happens and nothing changes at least ’til the end of President Trump’s first term. So we’re gonna have to watch this carefully. If it… if it is implemented and implemented forcefully as it needs to be.
Lind and his co-hosts concluded their discussion of this conservative free thought initiative with a “jocular” exchange on bombing universities:
Brent: Well there you have it. if you want the cutting edge in conservative activism — right-wing activism — look no further than TR.
William Lind: Absolutely. And if this doesn’t work, we’re gonna tell Jeff to get back in his Cobra and launch an airstrike.
Jeff Groom: That would actually work because the Cobra uses a Hellfire, which, as you know, Bill, attacks from the top down on things. It doesn’t fly in armour, but flies in top down where armour’s thinnest.
William Lind: And I can’t think of anything that colleges and universities more deserve than Hellfire.
Jeff Groom: Yeah we’re gonna get the November variant so just it’s a thermobaric one not the tank killer we need the thermobaric one — burn everything out…
FAEs are more powerful than conventional high-explosive munitions of comparable size, are more likely to kill and injure people in bunkers, shelters, and caves, and kill and injure in a particularly brutal manner over a wide area. In urban settings it is very difficult to limit the effect of this weapon to combatants, and the nature of FAE explosions makes it virtually impossible for civilians to take shelter from their destructive effect.
In part four of this series, I read Herbert Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance” so you don’t have to.