Murray@Middlebury

I've been a fan of Charles Murray's for a few decades now. I think his 1988 book In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government remains one of the best explications of American political philosophy I've read. Everything I've read by him shouts that he's a mensch, albeit a curmudgeonly one, who wishes nothing more or less that all Americans be treated with whatever respect is due them, without regard to race, creed, sex, religion, etc. etc. He thinks seriously and writes honestly about American social trends.

That "writes honestly" bit lands him in a spot of trouble now and then.

So the news this week from Middlebury College, where Murray was invited to speak, was disheartening, but not surprising. And all the more disheartening because it was not surprising.

A group of demonstrators at Middlebury College in Vermont “aggressively confronted” guest speaker Charles Murray and a Middlebury professor Thursday afternoon, a skirmish that turned violent and left the professor injured.

That's the Boston Globe. Note the quote marks around “aggressively confronted”. Why are they there? Nobody is mentioned saying those words. Are they supposed to be sneer quotes? As usual with the Globe, it's hard to figure out.

And the bare facts, even as reported by the Globe show that "aggressively confronted" is a euphemism for "violently attacked". In addition to the injury delivered to Professor Allison Stanger ("One protester pulled Stanger’s hair and injured her neck. She was taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released."):

When Murray finished his speech, he left the building with Stanger and [Middlebury College spokesman Bill] Burger, but was met by a group of protesters who wore bandanas to cover their faces. Burger said he believed they were “outside agitators” who had been barred from the event, rather than Middlebury students.

Flanked by security officers, the three moved toward Burger’s car. By that point, more than 20 demonstrators had gathered.

One threw a stop sign with a heavy concrete base in front of Burger’s car, and several others rocked, pounded, and jumped on the vehicle.

The Globe also passes along a second-hand slur:

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Murray as a “white nationalist” who believes in the intellectual and moral superiority of white men and advocates for the elimination of welfare and affirmative action.

The SPLC's page about Charles Murray is here, under its "Fighting Hate" category. Of course, pigeonholing Murray as a "white nationalist" is despicable nonsense, and its page is full of lies, mischaracterizations, and context-dropping. Just one obvious point: Murray doesn't call for the "elimination of welfare"; in fact he wrote an entire book advocating that the US adopt a universal basic income plan for all citizens.

But smears from the SPLC are the kind of language that lends cover to the thuggish mob at Middlebury. Hey, they're just "fighting hate", like the SPLC told them to do.

I was moved to tweet to the SPLC, in reply to its bemoaning of bomb threats against Jewish community centers.

I'll be ignored, but …