Hard campus lessons in free speech

Colleges should be the first places to burst thought bubbles, writes Froma Harrop.

Harvard University came under justified attack when it named Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow. Critics asked how Harvard could honor a former U.S. Army officer convicted of leaking 750,000 classified or sensitive documents.

The university rescinded the invitation, and Manning hit back, tweeting, “Honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting Harvard fellow.” That went far in answering the “how could Harvard” question.

Chelsea Manning, born Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage. President Obama commuted her sentence after she had served seven. Manning went on to cultivate her celebrity, gracing glossy magazines as a stylish woman.

Harvard, it would appear, invited Manning to be a fellow at its prestigious Institute of Politics as a gesture toward transgender rights. Its news release heralded her as the “first transgender fellow,” leaving the prison part for the end.

Harvard came to its senses after Michael Morell, a deputy director of the CIA under Obama, resigned from the program in disgust. He wrote that Harvard’s invitation honored “a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”

So Manning looked to be a checkmark on Harvard’s list of good deeds in the name of identity politics. But was it indeed a good deed? It was not.

Just this summer, President Trump called for banning transgender people from the armed forces. Our military leaders pushed back in their defense. Transgender troops were serving bravely and with distinction. Progressives and others applauded.

So what will it be? Are transgender service members to be regarded as honorable warriors, equal to the others? Or are they somehow weaker and thus given extra latitude when they act dishonorably?

The University of California, Berkeley had long indulged a left-wing campaign to censure conservative views. Perhaps the roughing up of a peaceful right-wing demonstration last month was the last straw. Whatever, Berkeley has found its spine.

The university decided to employ hundreds of police to protect a recent event featuring conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. A large protest against Shapiro’s talk was overwhelmingly peaceful, but a handful of exhibitionists went violent. Their arrests nailed into place Berkeley’s determination to defend free speech.

Berkeley says it’s ready to spend similar amounts…

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