Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. denounced political correctness, suspension of free speech and other aspects of the "new-left's" agenda during his key-note speech, entitled "Multiculturalism and the Bill of Rights," at the Dean's Forum last night. The Dean's Forum, in its 10th year, honored 20 students in the School of Arts and Sciences chosen to be Dean's scholars. Ten of those awarded are graduate students, nine are College students and one is from the College of General Studies. Schlesinger's speech, which criticized multiculturalism and its impacts on the First Amendment, advocated all forms of free speech, including hate-speech. Speaking about those who "lead the attacks on free speech in the name of a multicultural society," Schlesinger pointed to the switch of students' roles on college campuses over the past half century during his hour-long speech in Meyerson Hall. Whereas conservative students once looked to denounce liberal professors espousing communism, Schlesinger said the new leftist students now attack their conservative professors for anything construed as not falling in line with the new multiculturalistic ideologies. "Multicultural idealogues regard the Constitution as written for nations of groups, not individuals," Schlesinger said last night. "This new theory undermines the idea of civil liberties." Schlesinger also said that while most of America's history is seen as "a stage of absorption," the "new ethnic politics" favors distinct communities. While there are a few healthy consequences of this eruption of ethnicities, such as the recent drive for American education to reflect the achievements of minorities, many problems have arisen because of this drive for distinct, separate communities, he said. "The ethnic gospel in militant form rejects ideals of assimilation and integration," Schlesinger said. "[The multicultural militants] reject America as a common culture and reject the cornerstone of the Constitution, the First Amendment. Along with advocating equal opportunity and integration in the marketplace and school, Schlesinger noted that the white majority must treat minorities as they would treat "their own" if any progress is to be made. Repressing the First Amendment, even if the speech is construed as evil, is not the way to bring minorities into society, he said. Before Schlesinger's speech, SAS Dean Rosemary Stevens began the night by congratulating the 20 award winners. "[The Scholars] represent best what the University is all about," Stevens said. After the Scholars stood for recognition, Stevens introduced Joel Conarroe, who formally introduced Schlesinger. Conarroe, who was SAS dean from 1983 to 1984, began the Dean's Scholars program. Conarroe spoke of Schlesinger's constant "willingness to speak his mind" amid raised eyebrows and heckles as a reason why he was perfect to give the keynote speech at the forum. Among the many things Conarroe listed, Schlesinger wrote his first book The Age of Jackson, which won him one of his two Pulitzer Prizes, at age 27. Schlesinger also helped formulate the "New Frontier" while a special assistant to President John F. Kennedy. Although "retired," he is the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities at the City University of New York. Schlesinger has also written a total of 15 books, worked on Adlai Stevenson's presidential campaigns in 1952 and 1956, and served as a professor at Harvard University after graduating from there Phi Beta Kappa.Comments powered by Disqus
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