University of Oregon President Michael Schill argued that the leftist practice of shutting down campus speaking events is “awfully close” to “fascism” this week.
In an op-ed for the New York Times this week, University of Oregon President Michael Schill argued that the repeated attempts across the country by leftist students to shut down political speech is “awfully close to the language and practices of those the students say they vehemently oppose.” Schill’s column comes just a few weeks after students shut down his scheduled speech at the university in which he had planned to announce an anonymous $50 million donation.
“Fundamentally, fascism is about the smothering of dissent,” he wrote. “Every university in the country has history classes that dig into fascist political movements and examine them along very clear-eyed lines. Fascist regimes rose to power by attacking free speech, threatening violence against those who opposed them, and using fear and the threat of retaliation to intimidate dissenters.”
“It is also ironic that they would associate fascism with the university during a protest in which they limit discourse,” he added. “One of the students who stormed the stage during my talk told the news media to ‘expect resistance to anyone who opposes us.’ That is awfully close to the language and practices of those the students say they vehemently oppose.”
Schill, in an attempt to clarify his position, argued that he has nothing against protest itself. He argued that the tactic of silencing speech only hurts the causes that such activists are trying to advance. “I have nothing against protest. It is a time-honored form of communicating dissent,” he wrote. “Often, the concerns students express very much deserve to be addressed. But the tactic of silencing, which has been deployed repeatedly at universities around the country, only hurts these activists’ cause. Rather than helping people who feel they have little power or voice, students who squelch speech alienate those who are most likely to be sympathetic to their message.”
Schill was forced to give his scheduled speech via a pre-recorded video. Student demonstrators claimed that their desire to shut down his speech was based on their opposition to “fascism.” One student activist who participated in the protest said the goal was to eliminate “the entire systems of oppression which exist within the halls of our school.”