But now, with “cancel culture” on the rise as protesters nationwide tear down statues in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, the biologist says he feels an uneasy sense of vindication — and the tide turning.
“I’ve started to get calls in the last week or two – the people who mocked me and others … for making too much of what appeared to be college kids going wild on college campuses,” he said on the Joe Rogan podcast on June 18. “Some of them have started to call and say: ‘I got it wrong. What do we do now?’”
It turns out that a quiet counterrevolution is already underway.
In March of last year, President Trump issued an executive order making federal research funding contingent on universities having adequate free speech protections. At the state level, Texas last year became the 17th state since 2015 to enact legislation protecting First Amendment rights on campus. Currently, the conservative National Association of Scholars is working with four states – Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona – to go further: pass laws to increase “intellectual diversity” at public universities.
South Dakota has already done so, and the law’s requirements amount to the most sweeping campus reforms in the country. It was triggered last year by a minor controversy over the stifling of a planned “Hawaiian Day” on one campus — a last straw for critics of cultural hypersensitivity that revived intellectual diversity legislation opposed by the state Board of Regents.
Under intellectual diversity laws, not only must dissenting views be tolerated, but college administrations are required to actively take steps (yet to be specified) to ensure that students are exposed to competing cultural and political viewpoints.