When we send our kids off to college, we know they will be exposed to a broad range of opinions. We know they will encounter liberal thinking, and viewpoints that may differ from those they were taught at home. What we don’t expect is that they will taught that it is acceptable to hate anyone. Yet that is exactly the sentiment espoused by University of Michigan communications professor and department chair Susan Douglas, who recently published an opt-ed piece entitled, “It’s Okay to Hate Republicans.”
She does, she wrote. In her article for the non-profit magazine In These Times, Douglas says:
I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal “personhood.”
She wrote of Conservatives:
(They have) certain psychological characteristics (such as) dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance of ambiguity; a need to avoid uncertainty; support for authoritarianism; a heightened sense of threat from others; and a personal need for structure.
According to researchers, the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance. The need for certainty, the need to manage fear of social change, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes.
Shortly after its initial publication, the website had changed the title of the article to “We Can’t All Just Get Along,” explaining that the author had objected to the original title as not truly representative of its content. The content, however, sparked outrage on her campus, particularly among conservative groups and advocates of free speech.
The chairman of the University of Michigan chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, and a member of the National Board of Governors for the same organization asked the school to “take action” against Ms. Douglas. Grant Strobl said:
This is blatant intolerance, and the university should take action on the behalf of intellectual diversity and all of the students who are intimidated into silence.
Bobby Schostak, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, said:
The piece by Professor Susan J. Douglas is ugly and full of hatred, and it should not be tolerated by the University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan is a respected public institution, funded by taxpayers, and this type of bullying must be addressed by President Mark Schlissel. I am calling on Lon Johnson, Gary Peters, Gretchen Whitmer, Tim Greimel and all Democratic officials to join in condemning this disgraceful dialogue by calling for Professor Susan J. Douglas’ resignation. By endorsing the hatred of an opposing political party, Douglas has made Republican students feel vulnerable and intimidated.
The university responded in a statement by spokesman Rick Fitzgerald:
The views expressed are those of the individual faculty member and not those of the University of Michigan. Faculty freedom of expression, including in the public sphere, is one of the core values of our institution.
At the same time, the university must and will work vigilantly to ensure students can express diverse ideas and perspectives in a respectful environment and without fear of reprisal. The university values viewpoint diversity and encourages a wide range of opinions.