Last week, about 150 students walked out during a speech of United States Vice-President Mike Pence. Around the same time, many in the audience booed Betsy DeVos, the US Education Secretary, at a speech at Bethune-Cookman University. While commentators have argued that these events were justified to some extent, noted CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria took a different view.
“American universities seem committed to every kind of diversity except intellectual diversity,” Zakaria said in the “What in the World” segment of his show, GPS. “Conservative voices and views are being silenced entirely.” What made the incidents in question particularly out of the ordinary for Zakaria was that they took place on college campuses which “promised to give their undergraduates a liberal education”.
“The word liberal in this context has nothing to do with today’s partisan language, but refers instead to the Latin root, pertaining to liberty,” he explained. “And at the heart of liberty in the Western world has been freedom of speech. From the beginning, people understood that this meant protecting and listening to speech with which you disagreed.” Zakaria also provided a reason for what he called the “anti-intellectualism of the left”.
“It’s an attitude of self-righteousness that says we are so pure, we’re so morally superior, we cannot bear to hear an idea with which we disagree,” he said. “Liberals think they are tolerant but often they aren’t. No one has a monopoly on right or virtue. In fact, it is only by being open to hearing opposing views that people on both sides of the political spectrum can learn something.”
Zakaria had, earlier this month, served another controversial jolt to his viewers when he talked about how the media should respond to the American president Donald Trump’s time in office.