Thursday 2 March 2023

Conservative Princeton student argues that his 'liberal campus is pushing freethinkers to the right' in eye-opening New York Times guest essay

 A conservative student at Princeton University penned an eye-opening New York Times guest essay in which he argues that his "liberal campus is pushing freethinkers to the right."

What are the details?

Senior Adam S. Hoffman wrote that things on his central New Jersey Ivy League campus have changed dramatically in recent years. A bygone time when "politics were mostly separable from personal relationships" has given way to left-wing hyper-activism that, instead of bullying the un-woke to fall in line, has actually created "breeding grounds for conservative firebrands," he said.

Hoffman also described familiar touchstones such as "diversity training sessions" that "blatantly endorse progressive ideas" and "bureaucrats" who "police conduct and speech."

He added that "for the conservative college student, life is punctuated by political checkpoints. Classes may begin with requests for 'preferred pronouns' or 'land acknowledgments.' A student who jokes about the wrong subject might face social punishment. All students should welcome challenges to their most cherished beliefs, but from what I’ve seen on campus, students are not invited to debate; they are expected to conform."

Hoffman also noted that "some might think that this pervasive progressivism would encourage conservative students to change their views. But in fact it has the opposite effect."

More from his piece:

The political journey of Rebekah Adams, a friend and recent graduate, is illustrative. She arrived at Princeton as a self-described moderate. Rebekah, the daughter of a Black Guyanese immigrant father, became frustrated by conversations about race on campus. “I couldn’t bring nuance to the conversation about police brutality,” she told me.

Rebekah says she faced backlash from classmates because of her views and eventually embraced a conservative political identity. She began writing for The Princeton Tory, a journal of conservative thought, on hot-button issues like Israel and started campaigning for free speech on campus. She described a process of “learning how to think for myself.”

At a certain point, Rebekah said, she “lost faith” in Princeton, and her politics evolved further right. She publicly questioned the efficacy of COVID policies, and called diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives a “show.” By October 2020, she was writing in support of Donald Trump.

Hoffman concluded by saying, "[E]lite institutions that have gone woke are convincing right-leaning students and heterodox thinkers that society’s most august institutions — from media outlets to universities — are fundamentally broken and need to be set on a different path. If colleges don’t want to produce a new generation of conservative firebrands, they need to pump the brakes on campus progressivism."

How are readers reacting?

The opinion essay, published Wednesday, already has attracted nearly 1,700 comments and counting. A cursory peek at them indicates a number of readers seem solidly behind Hoffman's sentiments.

One commenter wrote that "I am decades out of college and yet everything in this piece resonates strongly. While I've always embraced progressive ideologies, I wonder if we've gone too far. Where do we draw the line between 'wokeness' and simply doing the right thing? The more time and energy the Left spends on binary arguments and debating semantics, the more we risk losing credibility and political ground."

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