Angry mob turns on liberal prof for defending Charles Murray
Charles Murray and a Middlebury College professor were assaulted on Thursday after leftist protesters forced Murray to deliver his scheduled speech over a live stream in a separate room.
Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was invited to campus by a student to discuss his 2012 book, Coming Apart, which analyzes how the white-working class contributes to the political movement led by President Trump.
The invitation was welcomed by International Politics and Economics professor Allison Stanger, a self-proclaimed Democrat who decided to participate in the event to show her dedication to free speech.
“I actually welcomed the opportunity to be involved, because while my students may know I am a Democrat, all of my courses are nonpartisan, and this was a chance to demonstrate publicly my commitment to a free and fair exchange of views in my classroom,” Stanger said in a Facebook post.
Days prior to the event, however, Middlebury’s student newspaper published a letter, written by over 450 Middlebury alumni, denouncing Murray’s scheduled talk.
“It is a decision that directly endangers members of the community and stains Middlebury’s reputation by jeopardizing the institution’s claims to intellectual rigor and compassionate inclusivity,” the letter stated.
According to the Burlington Free Press, Middlebury President Laurie Patton preceded Murray to the stage in an effort to defuse tensions, declaring, "I would regret it terribly if my presence here today, which is an expression of support I try to give to all my students [...] is read to be something which it is not, an endorsement of Mr. Murray's teachings and writings."
Nonetheless, the audience broke out into shouts and chants when Murray appeared, rendering faculty and student organizers unable to restore order. Murray was eventually led into a separate, private room, where he delivered his speech via a livestream while protesters banged on the windows outside.
“I want you to know how hard it was for us to continue with fire alarms going off and enraged students and outside agitators banging on the windows,” Stanger noted in her post. “I thought they were going to break through, and I then wondered what would happen next. It is hard to think and listen in such an environment.”
When Murray finished his speech, he and Stanger were rushed out of the building into the mob, where the pair was assaulted.
“When I took [Murray’s] right arm both to shield him from attack and to make sure we stayed together so I could reach the car too, that’s when the hatred turned on me,” Stanger recalled. “One thug grabbed me by the hair and another shoved me in a different direction. I noticed signs with expletives and my name on them.”
Middlebury spokesperson Bill Burger told Seven Days that “it was a very, very dangerous situation,” adding that the school would be investigating “what were clearly violations of our policy” by the protesters.
“The demonstrators were trying to block Mr. Murray and Professor Stanger’s way out of the building and to the car,” he recounted. “It became a pushing and shoving match, with the officers trying to protect those two people from demonstrators—and it became violent.”
Patton likewise denounced the violence in a statement, saying, “I extend my sincerest apologies to everyone who came in good faith to participate in a serious discussion, and particularly to Mr. Murray and Prof. Stanger for the way they were treated during the event and, especially, afterward.”
Stanger and Murray thought they were safe from the agitators after they drove a decoy route to dinner at the Kirk Alumni Center, but once there, were advised to leave immediately because protesters had discovered their whereabouts.
“After the adrenaline and a martini (full disclosure; you would have needed a martini too) wore off, I realized that there was something wrong with my neck,” Stanger said. “My husband took me to the ER.”
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