As these five controversies converged in a perfect storm of “academic freedom” controversies, part of me still felt loyal to academia. I had written a long letter (which I still stand by) in defense of Anthony Esolen at Providence College, so I was feeling a little nostalgic for the old view of college as a place to learn about ideas and be exposed to many perspectives. I signed a petition defending one of these professors’ academic freedom.
The response to my comment on the petition was more of what has always made me abhor the left. Try to build bridges to them, and they punish you for it. The history of my disastrous attempt to engage Prof. Potter on the Chronicle of Higher Education is symptomatic of the left’s longstanding history of taking kind gestures from conservatives as a sign that such conservatives are weak. Rather than say, “Wow, what a great chance to speak across party lines,” lefties usually perceive an invitation to shame you publicly, using anything you say against you.