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Yoram vs. Robby


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Power Line

Steven Hayward

Dec. 18 2023

In the ongoing controversy about what to do about campus anti-Semitism, Princeton’s Robert P. George advocates for more robust free speech on campus, while Yoram Hazony, author of (among other books) Conservatism Rediscovered and The Virtue of Nationalism, disagrees sharply with his former Princeton mentor in a Twitter exchange that deserves a wider audience.

Here’s Robby’s argument:

Over the past two months, the public has learned about some crazy things happening on college campuses. Folks are also now aware of some of the disturbing beliefs young people have come to adopt (e.g. 67% of 18-24 year-olds regard Jews as “oppressors”). What can be done?

First, let’s talk about what not to do. Don’t further restrict free speech on campus. (Believe me, that will backfire.) Don’t expand speech codes or further ramp up the power of DEI bureaucracies in the hope of, e.g., combatting anti-Semitism. It won’t work.

The problem is that universities have become ideological monocultures. Prevailing dogmas go unchallenged; dissenting opinions are rarely heard. Students are catechized, not taught. They assume that only an ignoramus or bigot would not agree with the campus orthodoxies.


I have a number of (friendly) criticisms of Hazony’s two major books mentioned above, but on this issue I think he has the better argument:

Robby, my long-time friend and former teacher, I have only love and gratitude for you and respect for your opinions.

However, in this case I have to dissent. I can’t accept that the only thing to be done about the rise of an organized, exterminationist anti-Semitic sect vying for control of America’s universities, is to insist on the principle of free speech and to teach the students “independence of mind.”

Free speech and independence of mind are principles that very much characterized Princeton when we first met there in the 1980s. As editor of the conservative student magazine on an overwhelmingly liberal campus, I certainly benefited from the tolerance extended to conservative viewpoints in those days. And I continue to inculcate these principles in my own educational efforts to this day.


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