What both cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America
The defect, crucially, is not this culture's bias against social conservatives, nor its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions
Rather, it's the refusal to admit -- to others, and to itself -- that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to "free expression" or "diversity" affirmed in mission statements and news releases.
This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it -- that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues
and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y.L. Korn.
Harvard itself is a perfect example of this pattern: As Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame pointed out when the column was making waves, Korn could only come up with one contemporary example of a Harvardian voice that ought to be silenced -- "a single conservative octogenarian," the political philosophy professor Harvey Mansfield. Her call for censorship, Deneen concluded, "is at this point almost wholly unnecessary, since there are nearly no conservatives to be found at Harvard."
I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism, which requires respecting Mozilla's right to have a CEO whose politics fit the climate of Silicon Valley, and Brandeis' right to rescind degrees as it sees fit, and Harvard's freedom to be essentially a two-worldview community, with a campus shared uneasily by progressives and corporate neoliberals, and a small corner reserved for token reactionary cranks.
But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on
. Instead, we have the pretense of universality -- the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the "spirit of free expression" from a school that's kicking a controversial speaker off the stage
And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions -- mostly religious -- that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.
It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis
and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic
or BYU is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.
I can live with the progressivism. It's the lying that gets toxic