Even the Chicago Tribune, which had been a staunch conservative paper for roughly 160 years before it took a hard swing to the left in 2008, when it endorsed a Democratic candidate for president (Barack Obama) for the first time, then reiterated that endorsement in 2012, somehow came down on the side of conservative Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro after DePaul University threatened his arrest if he set foot on campus.
On Thursday, the Tribune issued an editorial decrying DePaul’s actions. The editorial started by reciting the events that occurred leading up to Wednesday night’s confrontation between Shapiro and security officers mandated with keeping him off campus. The Tribune then reported:
Shapiro knew how to respond outside the event hall as a video camera rolled: “If I attempt to enter that hall, right there, just to hear somebody speak, or if I attempt to ask a question or engage in free speech, you will have me arrested?” he asked a security official. “I’m glad in a city that has some 4,000 shootings to this date, you have 30 members of security just for a 5-9,165 (pound) Jewish guy.”
Bystanders laughed at his self-deprecating remark. Shapiro certainly can play to a crowd and make a point. It’s a shame he wasn’t permitted to perform for a full audience. Why couldn’t he? Because DePaul remained tied up in knots over the question of how to manage speaker events that may offend some members of the school community.
The Tribune noted that Shapiro is no fan of Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, the new White House counselor, adding, “Hmm, maybe there is something serious to explore in the political clash between right and left. Shapiro, no fan of Bannon, would have been a very interesting lecturer for engaged students to hear a week after the election. But nope, too risky for DePaul.”
The Tribune acknowledged that DePaul, as a private university, “controls campus access and can approve or refuse guests as it sees fit. This isn’t a First Amendment right to assembly issue; it’s an issue of academic exploration … In this case, DePaul had a few days’ notice and could have allowed Shapiro to appear with adequate security on hand. That would have served the interests of students and made a powerful statement about a university as a marketplace of ideas. Students would have heard Shapiro, engaged him and reached their own conclusions about the values and merits of the conservatism in the era of Trump.”
“This isn’t a First Amendment right to assembly issue; it’s an issue of academic exploration.”
The Tribune concluded:
True, there is a lot of confusion today about the country’s political direction. There is polarization, there are hard feelings. That’s part of life in a democracy. Learning how to confront political differences in a civilized manner is a tough lesson to embrace. Unfortunately, DePaul missed another chance to play the role of enlightened teacher.