Coming Together

By Thomas Leaycraft, Middlebury Student

I went to sleep last Thursday with a sour taste in my mouth, even after an enjoyable dinner with friends and a sitcom marathon. I attended Dr. Murray’s talk on his latest book “Coming Apart,” eager to better understand some of the frustrations of the Trump coalition. But more importantly, I was excited for the question and answer session to voice my arguments against intellectualized racism, forged through hours of research and discussions with friends and colleagues at The Campus.

I do not resent my fellow students for denying me, and much of the Middlebury community, a platform to voice our reasoned and well-articulated criticisms of ideas and their affront to America’s sacred principle of equality. However, the hatred and anger in the eyes of many members of my beloved community truly rattled me, as did the chorus of boos and the harassment of college officials and AEI’s two speakers during introductory remarks. I saw protesters make threats against students who kindly asked them to be quiet. And of course, all this simmering anger exploded later that night when a mob assaulted Dr. Murray and Professor Stanger.

Of course, I admire the passion of our student body – this passion is part of why I love Middlebury. And indeed, while Dr. Murray’s work has been somewhat misrepresented in recent weeks, I share the anger over his use of flawed research, which belittles women and many peoples of color. Dr. Murray’s flawed science and departure from the ideas that “all men are created equal,” which informs his appalling policy proposals are truly reprehensible.

However, violence and hatred undermines the cause of social justice. Civil rights, apartheid and the Indian independence movement – all experience shows that the dream of progress comes when we dream our love and compassion into the world. Social justice is a struggle but not a battle. ‘Callout-culture’ and a bigot witch hunt will achieve nothing. The political science department is not racist, nor are President of Middlebury Laurie L. Patton, or AEI. Scholars like Murray can challenge the humanity of minorities, but the compassion of movements like the Civil Rights movement counteracts the divisiveness and reminds us of our shared humanity. Peaceful protests and civil disobedience can achieve great things, but changing people’s hearts is only possible through the rich potency of love.

Opinions editor Thomas Leaycraft ’20  writes about compassion in discourse.