The truth is that universities are and always have been ripeenvironments for absolutism. Students — brimming with self-righteousness,unaware of how easily violence can spread, stimulated by the scent of blood inthe water — have provided the shock troops for most totalitarian movements.
During what liberal academics praised as the”idealistic” 1960s, American students (sometimes armed) seizedbuildings, held a dean hostage, looted research files and committed promiscuousvandalism. Nazi students (egged on by professors) “cleansed”Heidelberg and other universities of Jews and others. Russian universitiesbecame incubators for radicals who took their ideas into the streets. Duringthe Cultural Revolution, Mao\’s faithful pupils subjected their teachers to”re-education” and even occasionally cannibalized them.
Students are natural radicals. The job of academics in a freesociety that hopes to remain so is to instill respect for freedom of thoughtand expression. Our problem is that many of the students who were burningprofessors\’ research notes in the 1960s are now on the faculty.