In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, President Donald Trump said that he would soon sign an executive order mandating that colleges and universities across the country respect free speech. That is, they will if they want to continue benefitting from the millions in federal funding they currently receive.
Only a day after a liberal lunatic named Zachary Greenberg was arrested by UC Berkeley police for assaulting conservative activist Hayden Williams, President Trump said that it was time to ensure that everyone – conservatives included – had the right to speak their minds on campus without fear of violence or reprise.
“If they want our dollars – and we give it to them by the billions – they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and old people, to speak,” Trump said. He brought Williams on stage with him as a symbol of what kind of reception conservatives typically get at left-wing incubators like the University of California.
Trump said that the executive order would “require colleges to support free speech if they want federal research dollars.”
One would think that such a proposed order would be relatively uncontroversial, but it’s not particularly surprising to see liberal academics push back. In an interview with Fox News, Professor Catherine Ross of George Washington University said that it could be construed as a violation of the First Amendment itself.
“Somebody would have to decide which universities were not supporting free speech on campus,” said Ross. “Some group of Washington civil servants — or maybe even worse, political appointees — would be looking at charges of speech discrimination at various colleges and universities, and labeling them as either acceptable in terms of free speech or not acceptable. And that is a government interference in speech.”
Well, we agree with Ross that it pains us to trust Washington civil servants or politicians to monitor anything, much less free speech, but we have a feeling that this order will be more of a warning than anything else. It will give the Trump administration that much more leverage to use when a school like UC Berkeley (or one of its many left-wing clones throughout the country) decides to de-platform a conservative speaker or marginalize conservative thought.
In an era where the SJW mob is clamoring to create campus bubbles free from any challenging ideas, that leverage may be all it takes to shift the momentum.