This week there was a bit of a dust-up about a letter Sens. Steve Erdman, Steve Halloran and myself sent to a number of newspapers across Nebraska.
It appeared over the weekend and has since been picked up by other news media.
The gist of the letter was a series of questions we three senators have concerning the University of Nebraska.
This problem stems from the incident last August where a young sophomore student was accosted and berated and called a vulgar racist name by a member of the university’s faculty.
This happened to her because she had set-up a table in a public space and was handing out literature that promoted a conservative organization.
To be fair, the vulgar woman who verbally accosted the young sophomore was also doing graduate coursework, so she was also a student as well as a teaching assistant.
The university has assured me this person was disciplined, but cannot describe specifically what action was taken because of state and federal laws. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what laws prohibit the university from sharing this information.
At any rate, this generated a lot of interest. Social media websites are full of discussion and several newspapers picked up the story. We received many supportive calls. NU President Hank Bounds and Chancellor Ronnie Green went on a Lincoln radio talk show and condemned the letter, saying it was full of misinformation. You can go to the KLIN website and listen to their interview with Mr. Coby Mach.
Beyond saying I disagree with much of what they said, I’m not going to spend this column debating their comments on the radio.
I stand by the letter and I continue to have grave concerns about the campus culture at the university.
The bottom line is the root cause of the incident last August is a totalitarian philosophy called “Social Justice.” This is now firmly embedded as part of the culture at the English Department of the University.
It is all over the department’s webpage, which the university leadership have endorsed. It’s part of the department’s mission statement.
Social Justice is simply evil.
There are as many different definitions of this term as there are people you care to ask, but its defining characteristic is tyranny. The aim of this malignant philosophy is silencing dissenting speech.
It promotes the suppression of any discussion of an issue the adherents of it believe is insensitive or not in line with their views. If you say something a social justice warrior doesn’t like, they brand you an intolerant bigot and use the kinds of techniques we saw in the August incident to silence you.
As much as the university would like to minimize the August incident to one isolated occurrence, I think it is symptomatic of a larger underlying problem that they seem to be avoiding.
I believe there is a pervasive climate of simmering hostility towards all things conservative on the campus, and more importantly, towards all students that are conservative.
We are hearing more and more from people who either had first-hand experience from professors verbally attacking them in class, or stories from parents about their children who were afraid to voice their thoughts and opinions for fear of professors taking it out on them via their grades.
As long as the University of Nebraska continues to embrace the hateful philosophy of “Social Justice,” the human and constitutional rights of students and faculty who dare to express conservative views will be threatened.
Failing to correct this serious culture problem will result in the sort of incident that prompted this debate to continue, if it hasn’t already.
It goes without saying this belief system is incompatible with an institution of higher learning as it suppresses the free and open exchange of ideas, and promotes a toxic culture of fear, which destroys the learning environment and silences speech.
I urge the university to renounce the evil of social justice and embrace a culture where every idea and opinion isn’t just free from attack, but is encouraged, without a hint of apprehension.
Instead of waiting for the next injustice and shouting “I told you so,” I would much rather help UNL take a stand and create an environment where all students, including conservatives, are treated fairly and invited to the table to discuss the issues without the fear of being bullied.
Next week, I am going to meet with Mr. Thomas Hoff, Mr. Barry DeKay and Mr. Bill Hoyt. They are directors on the Nebraska Public Power District board. They represent the sub-divisions on the NPPD map which encompasses the route of the planned “R Line.”
This high-voltage transmission line is planned to cut right through the heart of the Sandhills. There are alternate routes for the line that have been recommended by the public, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nebraska Game and Parks.
They would avoid most of the concerns that have been raised.
I am going to ask these gentlemen why the other routes wouldn’t satisfy the project objectives and try to understand why they voted against them.
Tom Brewer represents District 43, encompassing the majority of the Nebraska Sandhills, in the Nebraska Legislature.