Liberalism Consumes Itself at Stanford Law
The Stanford mob claims to champion . . . free speech and liberty
Arthur Sarnoff, “Old Man Staring at Himself in a Mirror”
By now the swirling chaos at Stanford Law School needs no elaborate introduction. A group of students, half-supported by a diversity administrator, effectively prevented an eminent federal appellate judge, Kyle Duncan, from speaking to a student group; and then an even larger group protested Dean Jenny Martinez’s apology to Judge Duncan, covering her classboard with fliers and assembling en masse in a hallway she had to traverse.
In this short post I make one observation: the subsequent commentary has largely elided the students’ own perspective, which is firmly rooted in liberal principles and values. Their actions are not a betrayal of liberalism, but an interpretation of it, an application and development of liberal premises. The struggle here is not a war between liberalism-cum-free speech and some antithetical set of political principles, such as “progressivism.” It is instead a civil war within the liberal camp, a conflict in which both sides act within, and appeal to, a shared framework of liberal principles.