Jason L. Riley, who spoke last winter at a Cato event Dick, Matt and I attended in Naples, Florida, recently was disinvited from delivering the BB&T Distinguished Lecture at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. Mr. Riley, who is black, writes for the WSJ and is the author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.
Disinvitations are becoming distressingly common, writes National Review. George Will was disinvited from Scripps College for expressing doubts about “rape culture” on campus. New York Police commissioner Ray Kelly was disinvited from Brown University (while at the podium) before he was to speak. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was disinvited at Rutgers University. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of radical Islam, was disinvited from speaking at Brandeis University.
But Jason Riley’s disinvitation is especially notable in that it took little to prompt it. As NRO notes, “No students threatened to protest his speech or wrote editorials denouncing his views. No one picketed the finance department. Riley’s speech hadn’t even been announced on campus. Mere fear of potential protest swayed Virginia Tech to cancel Riley’s pending event.”
When Mr. Riley spoke at the University of N.C. at Chapel Hill, he was told that the college Republicans who invited him took the precaution of clearing his name with liberal student groups “to make sure they wouldn’t be upset.”
Conservative students often are too intimidated to speak up during question and answer periods when liberal students and faculty are firing away. Mr. Riley was told by a Wellesley College student, “Being too outspoken would just make it more difficult. … We have to live with these people until we graduate.”
“We’ve reached a point where conservatives must have their campus speakers preapproved by left-wing pressure groups. If progressives aren’t already in absolute control of academia, they’re pretty close,” laments Mr. Riley.