By Eduardo Vidal, UChicago BA’78, JD’81
[Doral, Florida]Last weekend my wife and I attended our 45th College Reunion at The University of Chicago on the mean streets of the South Side. We enjoyed many fascinating presentations and scintillating discussions, but the highlight was a debate between two other alumni on Saturday morning. That morning we attended a debate on “Campus Free Speech and Criminal Law Enforcement” between two graduates of the College Class of 1983 attending their 40th Reunion - - Jonathan Turley and Larry Krasner.
Mr. Krasner is the District Attorney of Philadelphia. He was elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2021, after being one of the first to run as a “progressive prosecutor,” and his campaign was funded by George Soros. He has defended progressive groups like Black Lives Matter. See: https://krasnerforda.com/meet-larry/.
During his tenure, Philadelphia has seen street crime soar, especially homicides and other violent offenses, including gun-related offenses. As a result, he was impeached last year by the Pennsylvania legislature, but not tried because of an order from a state court. After all, he did not commit a crime; he is only giving his constituents what they voted for - - good and hard! Most of this violent crime is black-on-black. Accordingly, Mr. Krasner and other white Soros-funded progressive prosecutors may be considered the white faces of black genocide.
Mr. Krasner’s mother was an evangelist, and so is her son, but of the secular persuasion. His mother told him to never stop arguing with the Devil, and he has invented his own demons to argue with - - the Federalist Society, Governor DeSantis, the Supreme Court, and so on.
For example, the Federalist Society at Stanford Law School recently invited a conservative federal appellate judge to address his opinions on the constitutional status of homosexual marriage and abortion. When he attempted to speak, many progressive students heckled the judge, preventing him from speaking. Then when an administrator intervened, she spoke against the judge’s free speech on such controversial subjects.
For his part, Mr. Krasner refused to defend the judge’s right to free speech, and railed against the right-wing bias of the Federalist Society, which he claims is attempting to take away human rights and dehumanize the LGBT community. Mr. Krasner also asserts that the students had a point in being unhappy and objecting to the judge’s speech. He claims that the Federalist Society has waged war on what he considers individual rights, and considers it an exaggeration to claim that conservative views are disproportionately subject to censorship in the media and on campus.
Mr. Krasner is also very upset with Governor DeSantis of Florida, claiming that the Governor is part of a national conservative effort to stop the teaching of black history. In making this absurd claim, he is following the lead of the NAAPC, a race-hustling grievance-monger and victimology shakedown racketeer organization. They are engaged in a political stunt just as Governor DeSantis is about to launch his presidential campaign. Lavern Spicer, a black conservative who for over 20 years has operated a food bank in Liberty City, Miami, reports that she has never seen them working in the community.
What Governor DeSantis is really doing that should bother Mr. Krasner is to remove a progressive prosecutor in Tampa, who proclaimed that he would not enforce certain statutes. In this the Governor is acting consistently with: (1) the voters of San Francisco, who recalled progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin; and (2) the Attorney General of Missouri, who removed Kim Gardner, the progressive prosecutor in St. Louis. In Chicago, progressive prosecutor Kim Foxx has announced that she will not run for re-election next year.
Mr. Krasner also opposes the practice by conservative Supreme Court justices of overturning precedents that they consider unconstitutional, simply because he disagrees with the results, regardless of what it says in the Constitution. He does not believe in remaining faithful to the Constitution, but believes in keeping precedents that he agrees with (such as Roe v. Wade), regardless of their constitutionality. By that reasoning, they would have kept Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal). At the same time, he railed against the Second Amendment, and blames it for mass shootings.
Mr. Krasner’s big complaint about America is our inequality, which he says undermines our democracy, and attributes to uneven funding of public schools. Nevertheless, he opposes school choice and vouchers, because of his subservience to the teachers’ unions, and instead supports dumping more taxpayers’ money into failing government-operated schools. Progressives have no sense of self-awareness.
Mr. Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Law at George Washington University in the District of Columbia, a regular columnist on various publications, and a frequent contributor on cable news. See: https://jonathanturley.org/. Professor Turley is a center-left, locally-grown, Chicago Democrat, who remains faithful to the free speech principles of classical liberalism. He is not a member of the Federalist Society, and does not call himself a libertarian, much less a conservative. Nevertheless, by his unconditional defense of free speech, he has placed himself in the ranks of the center-right, because (as Elon Musk has observed) the left has moved so far to the far left. Today’s left is not liberal, but progressive, socialist and communist.
He takes pride in being called a free-speech absolutist. For example, recently a group from Yale, called Law Students for Climate Accountability, demanded that law schools should ban “fossil fuel lawyers,” that is, lawyers working in the fossil fuel industry, from their teaching, administrative and student ranks. Professor Turley responded in opposition: “This is only the latest example of speech intolerance on our campuses….A vibrant institution of higher education welcomes such diversity of opinions.”
For Professor Turley, Mr. Krasner is a prime example of what he means when he says that free speech is under attack from the progressive left. Speech that other people find offensive is by itself considered harmful and even violent. The federal government is censoring what it calls the “cognitive infrastructure” of dis-information, mis-information and even mal-information, in order to provide protection against ideas that they considered harmful. For example, the Great Barrington Declaration, calling for a reasonable response to the Wuhan virus, was banned by both public and private censors.
He observed that in his 30 years of teaching, he has never seen so many incidents of assaults on, and intolerance of, free speech. Part of this trend is reflected in the lack of libertarians, conservatives or Republicans on faculties in higher education.
Professor Turley also observed that the Supreme Court is not as divided as it seems, given that the majority of its opinions are unanimous. The divisions reflect authentic differences in principles, and the current court is not more divisive, or more active in overturning precedents, than prior liberal Supreme Courts. Both ideological sides vote as a bloc, and he counted that the Warren Court overturned more than 30 existing precedents. When it comes to constitutional law, the Constitution is always supreme, and precedents must yield. The opinions in the Supreme Court Reporter are not the Constitution.
Professor Turley agreed that Mr. Krasner’s impeachment was political, like President Trump’s impeachments, and that the Durham report confirms that Russia collusion was a hoax. He also noted that rising violent crime is a concern in jurisdictions with progressive prosecutors, and that the decline in civics education is a threat to our rule of law.
Finally, Professor Turley proclaimed that the exercise of free speech is part of being fully human. He is writing a book titled: The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in the Age of Rage, defending free speech from all the rationalizations to censor it.
The Chicago Thinker
Another bright spot of our College Reunion was meeting with the senior editors of The Chicago Thinker, a new digital newspaper on campus founded two years ago by students, and focused on promoting freedom of thought and speech on campus. See: https://thechicagothinker.com/. Their motto is “Outthink the Mob.”
This newspaper co-sponsored a Symposium held last Friday and hosted by the Academic Sanity Consortium on the campus of the University. The subject of this Symposium was “Academia’s COVID Failures,” and highlighted how power-hungry academics have sabotaged free inquiry on college and university campuses, with the response to the Wuhan virus pandemic serving as a leading example of this trend.
The speakers included: (1) Dr. Jay Battacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University; (2) Dr. Scott Atlas, fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution; (3) Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College; (4) Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University; (5) Todd Zywicki, professor of law at George Mason University; and (6) Ilya Shapiro, director of Constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute.
Dr. Battacharya discussed how the Great Barrington Declaration, calling for a reasonable response to the Wuhan virus, which he proposed together with colleagues Dr. Suneta Gupta of Oxford University and Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, was subjected to censorship from both public and private sources. In particular, Dr. Anthony Fauci directly contributed to this censorship.
Dr. Atlas warned the audience about the importance of the administrative state being transparent and truthful about data: “You must, in a free, democratic society, persuade the public with the information available. Even if they are not persuadable, that’s too bad….The public was not given the information to make these decisions.” He also observed that the Wuhan flu did not cause historic learning losses in children; that was caused by the shutdowns, not the virus. He is not a lawyer, but he noted that: “A public emergency does not give you the authority to override the Constitution.”
Rachel Fulton Brown, professor of medieval history at the University and an organizer of this Symposium, is teaching a course this quarter on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. She compared the allure of mandates and lockdowns to the One Ring: “One Covid to rule them all, one Covid to find them, one Covid to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” Her prayer group at the University helped to end testing requirements for the unvaccinated.
Dr. Atlas concluded with a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
Finally, on Sunday morning we attended New Beginnings Church on 66th Street and South Martin Luther King Drive. See: https://www.nbcchurchchi.org/. This congregation is led by Pastor Corey Brooks and Associate Pastor T.J. Grooms, and it stands like a beacon of light, a shining city on the hill, in a neighborhood where almost 90% of children are growing up without their fathers in their homes. Those children are the lucky ones, because almost 50% of the children that should have lived in their neighborhood were killed in the womb by their mothers. Street violence is rampant. The church stands next to some low-rise housing projects, especially near 63rd Street, full of violent people. Guns don’t kill people; violent people kill people.
The street violence in the South Side since the 1950’s has in effect imposed a tax on the University, discouraging many prospective students and faculty (especially women) from attending, and requiring the University to fund one of the largest private-sector police departments in the world, rivaling in size the Vatican’s Swiss Guards.
Pastor Brooks has launched a project to teach vocational trades to neighborhood youths, so that they can provide lawfully for themselves and their families, without relying on the welfare state or crime, called Project Hood. See: https://www.projecthood.org/. It is worth contributing. His message is that we should cling to our Bibles and families. We attend a similar church in Miami: https://www.vouschurch.com/.
Corey Brooks has not won a Nobel Prize yet, and he may never win one, but he is the most important man from the South Side in this millennium. He is building there a Christian community that can reconquer (Reconquista), be re-born (Rennaissance), and reform (Reformation). They have done it before.
Eduardo Vidal is a lawyer and political activist. His family brought him when he was nine years old from Cuba to the USA, but now the rule of law has been eroded in the USA as well, and we are turning into Cuba and the rest of Latin America