PIERS MORGAN: The woke destruction of a great educator should terrify every one of us – because these hysterical enemies of free speech are spreading beyond our colleges and destroying the foundations of American democracy
Until today, the most depressing letter I’ve ever read was the one I received from Arsenal Football Club informing me I had failed in my application to be the new 1st team manager.
Admittedly, I was only 11 years old at the time and Arsenal were one of the biggest clubs in the world, but still, the rejection stung.
However, the pain and anger I felt then paled into insignificance compared to the contorted rage and dismay I experienced when I read Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian’s public letter of resignation.
Sometimes, even in these increasingly absurd woke-ravaged cancel culture times, I still physically shudder at a particularly awful example of the way free speech is being annihilated at the altar of political correctness.
This was such a time.
Boghossian has lectured at PSU as full-time assistant professor of philosophy for the past ten years.
He was a popular lecturer known for his truth-seeking, non-indoctrinating style.
But he’s now been forced to quit because he says the University has ‘sacrificed ideas for ideology.’
The woke destruction of a great educator (pictured is Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian who resigned over wokeism at the university) should terrify every one of us – because these hysterical enemies of free speech are spreading beyond our colleges and destroying the foundations of American democracy:
Boghossian has lectured at PSU as full-time assistant professor of philosophy for the past ten years. In his letter, published in a newsletter run by Bari Weiss, a former New York Times journalist who also resigned over internal woke nonsense that attacked her freedom of speech, Boghossian started by saying something that resonated very personally with me
His decision came after a lengthy, vicious campaign was waged to drive him out – a campaign that should appall and outrage every one of us, regardless of our political persuasion.
In his letter, published in a newsletter run by Bari Weiss, a former New York Times journalist who also resigned over internal woke nonsense that attacked her freedom of speech, Boghossian started by saying something that resonated very personally with me.
‘I teach classes like Science and Pseudoscience and The Philosophy of Education,’ he wrote, ‘but in addition to exploring classic philosophers and traditional texts, I’ve invited a wide range of guest lecturers to address my classes, from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates. I’m proud of my work. I invited those speakers not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn’t. From those messy and difficult conversations, I’ve seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds. I never once believed — nor do I now — that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.’
Yes, yes, and bloody yes.
His words reminded me of what Albert Einstein once said about education:
‘I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.’
That, surely, is the very essence of a proper education?
The best teachers I’ve had in my own life all encouraged me to be bold, challenging and above all, open-minded.
I was a member of a school debating society when I was just ten years old and can still remember how invigorating it was to argue with my peer group about issues in the news.
For me, that principle is the very cornerstone of freedom of speech and expression which in turn are the very cornerstones of democracy. Ironically, I lost my job presenting Good Morning Britain (Piers Morgan with co-host Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain in March 2020) earlier this year for expressing an opinion – that I didn’t believe the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wild unsubstantiated claims about the Royal Family during their incendiary interview with Oprah Winfrey. I was ordered by my bosses at ITV to either apologize for that honestly held opinion or leave, so I left
But the teacher who conducted these sessions always insisted we respect other opinions to our own.
‘Just because you feel strongly about something, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re right,’ she would regularly caution. ‘But you should always be entitled to have your own opinion, just as everyone else is entitled to theirs.’
For me, that principle is the very cornerstone of freedom of speech and expression which in turn are the very cornerstones of democracy.
Ironically, I lost my job presenting Good Morning Britain earlier this year for expressing an opinion – that I didn’t believe the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wild unsubstantiated claims about the Royal Family during their incendiary interview with Oprah Winfrey. I was ordered by my bosses at ITV to either apologize for that honestly held opinion or leave, so I left.
But last week, the UK TV regulator OFCOM vindicated me in a very important and significant report that emphatically endorsed my right to disbelieve Meghan and Harry (many of whose claims have since been disproven) and described the attempt to muzzle me as a ‘chilling’ threat to freedom of expression.
OFCOM is a government-approved organization.
So, in effect, the UK government, which I spent most of the past 18 months beating up over its handling of the pandemic, defended my right to free speech more than my employer, one of the country’s largest media firms.
I bet Peter Boghossian wishes he’d had an organization like OFCOM in his corner.
Instead, in a country (America) where the whole concept of a government-approved regulator dictating what citizens can say is a horrifying anathema, he’s been hung out to dry in the most despicable, cowardly and freedom-wrecking manner.
Everything he stood for as a teacher, which is everything a teacher SHOULD stand for, shamefully repudiated.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, a spokesman for the university (pictured) said: ‘Portland State has always been and will continue to be a welcoming home for free speech and academic freedom.’ What a load of disingenuous guff!
‘Brick by brick, he wrote, ‘the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division. Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly.’
The more I read of the letter, the worse it got.
‘I noticed signs of the illiberalism that has now fully swallowed the academy quite early during my time at Portland State,’ Boghossian wrote. ‘I witnessed students refusing to engage with different points of view. Questions from faculty at diversity trainings that challenged approved narratives were instantly dismissed. Those who asked for evidence to justify new institutional policies were accused of microaggressions. And professors were accused of bigotry for assigning canonical texts written by philosophers who happened to have been European and male.’
He courageously took on this nonsense, openly questioning it.
He even began submitting hoax papers to academic journals about insane theories relating to social justice like dog rape and the notion that penises are the product of human mind and responsible for climate change.
Boghossian was taking woke mentality to a ludicrous degree, to illustrate how flawed academia can be because it too often prints anything that fits their ideals even if the theories are fake.
When the hoax papers were published, and it was revealed what he’d done, he was attacked even more by the extreme illiberal left who were outraged at being exposed as such frauds.
‘Brick by brick, Boghossian’ wrote in the letter addressed to Portland State’s Provost Susan Jeffords (pictured) ‘the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division
Boghossian claims, ‘the more I spoke out, the more retaliation I faced.’
He says he was harassed on campus with swastikas written on bathroom walls with his name next to them, flyers went around campus depicting him with a Pinocchio nose, he was spat on, feces were left on his doorstep, and colleagues told students not to take his class.
After someone formally complained about him, making a series of outrageous false claims, he was investigated by university administrators, and students who were interviewed told him they were asked if he’d even beaten his wife and kids.
He hadn’t, just as he hadn’t done anything else that his accuser said he’d done, and the investigation was dismissed with the claims deemed unsubstantiated.
But all this inevitably took its toll, and he eventually threw in the towel.
The final three paragraphs of his resignation letter are worth repeating in full:
‘This isn’t about me. This is about the kind of institutions we want and the values we choose. Every idea that has advanced human freedom has always, and without fail, been initially condemned. As individuals, we often seem incapable of remembering this lesson, but that is exactly what our institutions are for: to remind us that the freedom to question is our fundamental right. Educational institutions should remind us that that right is also our duty. Portland State University has failed in fulfilling this duty. In doing so it has failed not only its students but the public that supports it. While I am grateful for the opportunity to have taught at Portland State for over a decade, it has become clear to me that this institution is no place for people who intend to think freely and explore ideas.
This is not the outcome I wanted. But I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?’
In a statement to DailyMail.com, a spokesman for the university said: ‘Portland State has always been and will continue to be a welcoming home for free speech and academic freedom.’
What a load of disingenuous guff!
In fact, they’re the complete opposite; PSU has woked itself into a place where its young impressionable students are encouraged to destroy anyone or anything they don’t agree with and not to respect free speech, but to attack and deny it.
I found Peter Boghossian’s letter incredibly depressing.
He’s the very best kind of teacher yet he’s been disgracefully framed as the very worst kind simply because he believes in free speech and fair debate.
America has reached a very dangerous moment where free thinking of the type Boghossian promotes has become the enemy and hyper-partisan woke ideology the only accepted school of thought.
And this is not a new phenomenon.
The most terrifying aspect of all this is that dangerously illiberal wokeism has been infesting schools and colleges for most of this century, much of it going under the radar.
So, students who’ve been brain-washed with it for the past 20 years are now heavily populating liberal society – from the Democrat party and Silicon Valley to mainstream media and big business.
And every day we see horrifying new evidence of how these woke ‘warriors’ as they see themselves are bullying their cowed bosses into supine submission.
Soon, they’ll be running America. Into the ground.
This madness has to stop, or democracy will die.
Source: Read Full Article