For the past several decades, left-leaning professors and administrators in the United States have gradually achieved dominance within the ivory tower of academia.
In the 1952 presidential election, 30% of professors cast their ballots for Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower. By the 2020 election, however, Democrat professors outnumbered Republicans by at least 9 to 1 in terms of voter registration, and donated to Democrats over Republicans at a ratio of 95 to 1.
This trend has clear effects on America’s ideological landscape. As the Wall Street Journal observed, Republicans won 76 out of the 100 counties with the largest share of college graduates in the 1980 general election. In 2020, Republicans carried only 16 of the most-educated counties.
Since the death of George Floyd in May of 2020, academics’ endorsement of ideologies like critical race theory and intersectionality reached a fever pitch. William Jacobson — a professor at Cornell Law School — documented the recent proliferation of curricula driven by critical race theory at hundreds of universities in all 50 states.
A side effect of critical race theory’s spread is a growing tendency within academia to limit free expression — especially from conservatives — in the name of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
As leftist ideology takes American colleges by storm, government officials in other Western nations are observing similar philosophies infiltrating their own university systems. In response, many are implementing policies to preemptively protect the right to free expression.
Leading French officials believe that American academic ideologies may undermine the fabric of French society.
As The New York Times reported, French President Emmanuel Macron recently mentioned the threat of “certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States” during a speech about national unity.
“We have left the intellectual debate to others, to those outside of the Republic by ideologizing it, sometimes yielding to other academic traditions,” explained Macron. “I am thinking of Anglo-Saxon traditions based on a different history, which is not ours. And when I see certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States, with their problems, which I respect and which exist, but which are just added to ours, I say to myself that it is reasonable to make this choice.”
Likewise, French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer commented that “there’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities.”
Higher education minister Frédérique Vidal announced an investigation to “distinguish academic research from activism and opinion.” She explained that a “minority” of faculty were using “their titles and aura” to “see everything through the prism of their desire to divide, split, designate the enemy.”
Days after Macron’s remarks, the British government announced new measures to support free speech on college campuses.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson explained that he is “deeply worried about the chilling effect on campuses of unacceptable silencing and censoring.” Accordingly, he will lead the government in efforts to “strengthen free speech in higher education, by bolstering the existing legal duties and ensuring strong, robust action is taken if these are breached.”
According to a U.K. Department for Education press release, Williamson plans to appoint a “Free Speech and Academic Freedom Champion” to “investigate potential infringements, such as no-platforming speakers or dismissal of academics.” The Free Speech Champion would enforce higher education providers’ legal obligation to “actively promote free speech.”
The Department for Education also released a policy paper stating that there exists a “lack of a clear means of enforcement” for ensuring the protection of free speech. The government expressed an intention to apply sanctions and fines to universities that fail to meet minimum standards in protecting free speech.
Quebec Premier François Legault offered similar remarks to his French and British counterparts.
“A handful of radical activists can be seen trying to censor some words and works,” he said in a February 13 statement. “We see a movement coming from the United States and frankly, I don’t think it’s like us.”
Legault detailed instances of academics censoring famous writers and limiting the use of gendered language — both of which are phenomena likewise growing in prominence on American campuses.
“Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of our democracy,” remarked Legault. “If we start compromising on this, we risk seeing the same censorship overflow in our media, in our political debates. We won’t mean anything anymore. No one will dare to talk about immigration, for example, if every time we talk about this, we get screamed nonsense. Nobody wants that. Not me, anyway.”
Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann will therefore seek to “act fast” to ensure academic freedom.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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