By Mark Glennon of Wirepoints
America’s plunge into insanity, particularly in higher education, apparently hasn’t bottomed yet.
Dorian Abbot is a professor in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago. He was invited to give the annual Carlson Lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which apparently is a major honor in Abbot’s field. Abbot’s topic was to be climate habitability and the potential for life on other planets.
But a Twitter mob, as Abbot describes it, composed of a group of MIT students, postdocs, and recent alumni, demanded that he be uninvited. Sure enough, just six days later, MIT called Abbot to say the lecture was cancelled because they didn’t want the controversy.
The particular viewpoint at issue here is especially noteworthy: Abbot wants universities to hire and promote based on what he calls MFE — Merit, Fairness, and Equality, “whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.”
Merit? Heaven forbid that.
The assault on merit was initially a subtext lurking behind the woke movement. Now, however, the mob is open about it.
Some examples in Illinois:
A bill is pending in the Illinois General Assembly that would ban discrimination based on any characteristic that disadvantages somebody, the implications of which are absurd, as explained here. The bill already passed the House and two Senate committees.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot sponsored a resolution at the US Conference of mayors equating “meritocracy” with racism.
Cook County’s Racial Equity Policy statement defines “equity” as full inclusion regardless of “ability.”
For the MIT lecture, Abbot’s political views had no relation to the the topic he was to speak about. That doesn’t matter to the mob, which wants its enemies silenced on everything.
One who wrote about the Abbot/MIT affair is Chicago native and University of Chicago alum Jonathan Turley. “What occurred at MIT this month is a chilling reminder that even a premier institution will yield to anti-free speech campaigns,” Turley wrote. “The result is cringing obedience to a rising orthodoxy on our campuses.”
But the most important point was made by Abbot himself, who described the whole episode in Substack. Here’s his conclusion:
It’s time to say no to the mob, no to the cancellations. And it’s time to be forthright about your true opinions.
This is not a partisan issue. Anyone who is interested in the pursuit of truth and in promoting a healthy and functioning society has a stake in this debate. Speaking out now may seem risky. But the cost of remaining silent is far steeper.