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Decline (and Fall?) of the American Empire November 14, 2013

Reported by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, at Brown University on October 29, a group of students shouted, chanted, and booed as New York police commissioner Ray Kelly began a lecture on "proactive policing," which includes the controversial policy of "stop and frisk." Kelly was unable to continue. The speech was called off 27 minutes after it was supposed to begin and Kelly left the stage without comment. The day before, students at Duke University walked out on the social scientist Charles Murray, who was there to speak on his latest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.

Students today are the leaders of tomorrow. And when students refuse to engage in dialogue with a controversial speaker, something is amiss. Perhaps the "shout down / walk out" response is simply indicative of ignorance -- an intellectual "flight-response" when faced with ideas they don't like but cannot intelligently debate.

Juan Williams, the Fox News commentator who was fired by National Public Radio for speaking too plainly, comments : "Shouldn't young people--especially our very best and brightest who are in our colleges and universities--shouldn't they be the ones who are engaged in the most vigorous and dynamic exchange of ideas and testing out the flaws in their lines of thinking with each other and with their professors? Shouldn't they be reading everything they can get their hands on? Shouldn't they be engaged in the most lively and wacky and sometimes even offensive debates? Because that's what your brain needs."

Apparently not. As Abraham Lincoln opined, "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide." Indeed, should we not be asking ourselves whether we are a nation of freemen or are we increasingly becoming enslaved by the shackles of ignorance, arrogance and intolerance?

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