Columbia socialists 'demand' chance to condemn Charles Murray

Socialist students at Columbia University are condemning Charles Murray’s upcoming visit to campus Thursday, demanding that the event be reformatted to allow them to berate Murray for his supposedly "racist" views.

The anonymous Columbia Spectator op-ed is attributed only to the “Barnard Columbia Socialists,” a student group created to “organize against racism, imperialism, economic inequality, women's oppression, homophobia and to fight for and build a socialist alternative that puts people before profits.”

Arguing that “Charles Murray’s ideas should be challenged, not accepted,” the column refers to Murray as a “widely discredited right-wing ideologue” and a “white supremacist,” citing claims by the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center that he uses “racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women, and the poor.”

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It is unclear whether the authors of the op-ed are personally familiar with Murray’s work, as their descriptions of his scholarship are uniformly culled from the SPLC, but they nonetheless declare his invitation a “grave disservice to the Columbia University community.”

Pointing out that the Columbia Political Union, which is co-hosting the event along with the Columbia College Republicans, has a stated mission of providing “non-partisan space for open debate and political engagement,” the socialist students “demand” that the format of Murray’s lecture be changed to accommodate their objections.

Although the event is already scheduled to include a question-and-answer session, they press the hosts to go even further by turning the speech into “a debate in which Murray could have his ideas challenged and dissected,” arguing that the lecture should be “an open discussion during which students...can not only ask questions but also make their own arguments about the impact of Murray’s ideas.”

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Attacking Murray as a “deeply pernicious character,” the op-ed concludes by paying lip service to the concept of free speech, but then reiterates the demand that Murray’s speech be reformatted to suit the socialists’ preferences.

“Although we do not believe the University should be asked to arbitrate what hate speech is and isn’t—since such power could just as easily be used against progressive speakers—Murray’s critical influence on the continued disenfranchisement of many vulnerable communities means his ideas cannot go unchallenged,” the students contend. “This is a moment that calls for us to use our right to free speech to challenge the widely discredited, racist, and profoundly elitist ideas of Charles Murray.”

Insofar as the demand was made just two days before Murray’s scheduled appearance, there has been no indication that the hosts will capitulate to the demand, particularly since the op-ed failed to note that the Columbia AEI Council was the group actually responsible for inviting Murray to campus, and simply had to enlist the help of two more-established student groups because it is still a new organization.

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Columbia AEI President Jonathan Schatz-Mizrahi told Campus Reform he was motivated to bring Charles Murray to campus to expose students to views they might not otherwise encounter.

Noting that many Columbia students live in an “elite liberal bubble,” Schatz-Mizrahi expressed hope that Murray’s detractors would at least “engage in a civil and intellectual dialogue.”

The Columbia Socialists did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did the Columbia administration.

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