By Allan Wall, September 14, 2020
It’s back to school time on America’s college campuses even in the time of COVID.
For college freshmen, among them my younger son, it’s a new experience.
For Nicholas Sandmann, an 18-year-old freshman at Kentucky’s Transylvania University (not to be confused with Count Dracula’s Transylvania in eastern Europe) the gaze of the Cancel Culture is still upon him.
In January 2019 Nick Sandmann traveled with other Catholic high school boys from Covington, Kentucky, to Washington, D.C. for a pro-life rally.
The MAGA-hat wearing Sandmann, and his school colleagues, wound up being presented in the mainstream media as evil white boys harassing a Native American elder, Nathan Phillips.
The public vitriol directed against a teenager was troubling. Even Nick’s home Catholic diocese and Catholic high school rushed to jump on the bandwagon and condemn their own students, though later regretting their rush to judgment.
In reality, it was Phillips who initiated the incident.
The truth came out, Sandmann was vindicated, and he even spoke briefly at the recent Republican National Convention. (Watch his speech here.)
Now, Sandmann is entering Transylvania University in Kentucky.
Time to move on, forget all the controversy, and become a typical college freshman?
That doesn’t appear to be an option.
Samuel Crankshaw of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) wrote this on his Facebook account on September 5th:
“Does anyone else think it’s a bit of a stain on Transylvania University for accepting Nick Sandman? I’m sure it’s a ‘both sides’ defense, but it’s pretty counter to their mission and another instance of there not actually being equal sides to an issue. I think TU should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their views … But this kid clearly is a provocateur in training with no intention of learning. He exists only to troll, intimidate and play victim … this seems like a slap in the face. I hope some time in a real classroom changes him, but his twitter and public persona suggest otherwise.”
So the university “should accept anyone willing to have an open mind and engage in debate, regardless of their [sic] views” but obviously, those would have to be views of which Crankshaw approves.
Crankshaw, by the way, does call these his personal views and not necessarily those of his employer.
Amber Duke, Deputy Director of the Kentucky ACLU said that, “The views in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the ACLU of Kentucky.” OK, but why not openly defend the civil liberties of Nick Sandmann and his right to attend the college of his choice?
Dr. Avery Tompkins, whose title at Transylvania U. is “Assistant Professor and Diversity Scholar” responded on Facebook to Crankshaw’s screed promising to keep an eye on young Nick: “If he were to cause problems by being disruptive, trolling, or engaging in unethical behavior of any kind, I would immediately document it (just like I would for any student doing the same thing) … and he would just be putting himself in a position for me to file a conduct report.”
Tompkins later apologized: “I want to apologize for my mistake in singling out a student and any misunderstandings that arose from that. One of my favorite things about working at a liberal arts institution is that the University community has diverse perspectives … ”
So that’s why you jumped in so rapidly? To single out a new student based on his political position? Sorry, but I don’t find that apology very convincing. I could be wrong, though.
Sandmann was allowed to write an opinion piece on Fox News. An excerpt: “So should only liberals and those on the far-left be able to get a college education? Should there be an ideological purity test required that bars conservatives and Republicans? That’s a pretty frightening idea and sounds like something you would expect in a totalitarian state, not a democracy where we are all guaranteed free speech by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The ACLU claims to support free speech but, at least where Crankshaw seems to be concerned, that only applies if you share his ideas. While he works for an organization founded on inclusivity, he is quick to exclude differing opinions. If you are a conservative like me, watch out. The intolerant left might come for you, too.”
Kudos to Nicholas Sandmann, a young American resisting the power of the formidable Cancel Culture, a true threat to freedom.
And check out these two musical renditions of his encounter at the Lincoln Memorial. One is set to the music of the late Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” and the other to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” respelled “Enter Sandmann.”
Allan Wall is a husband, father, farmer, writer, and teacher.