In January, students at the University of California, Davis loudly protested planned addresses by firebrand conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli. Both speeches were ultimately canceled.
Last week the torch was passed to another UC branch, this time San Diego, where students raised a stink over another invitee whose views they claimed to find “oppressive” and “offensive.” So who was the provocateur this time? It was His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama!
The Tibetan spiritual leader had been selected to deliver the commencement address for the graduating class of 2017. Then the Chinese student association got wind of it and said “Nothing doing.”
Students at the University … have claimed that [the Dalai Lama’s] presence is offensive because of his campaign to make Tibet more independent – contrary to the Communist government’s position that Tibet is a region of China under their control.
Arguments over Tibetan independence have raged for decades – but this dispute is remarkable because activists are conducting it through the language of social justice.
A statement accused university leaders of having “contravened the spirit of respect, tolerance, equality, and earnestness—the ethos upon which the university is built.”
One student posting on Facebook said: “So you guys protest against Trump because he disrespects Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, LGBT.., but invites this oppresser [sic] to make a public speech?? The hypocrisy is appalling!”
Likewise, an alumni group based in Shanghai said UCSD will be breaching its ethos of “diversity” and will leave them “extremely offended and disrespected” if the Dalai Lama’s speech dips into the political.
Chinese officials are known to be extraordinarily hostile to any groups who get close to the Dalai Lama, and do their best to punish governments who engage with the exiled Tibetan regime.
They consider the Dalai Lama a threat to stability in China, akin to a terrorist who wants to split the country.
This is what our liberal education system has wrought. Even a man who has traveled the world preaching love and tolerance for over half a century — much like a modern-day Gandhi — is too controversial.
We as a nation are in big trouble.
Cross-posted at Constitution.com