On behalf of the Ayn Rand Institute, I lectured at Harvard University eight or nine times (I can’t remember the exact number) in the 1990s and early 2000s. The topics varied from “Rational Egoism in The Fountainhead” to “The Mind as Hero in Atlas Shrugged” to lectures in full support of global capitalism, and the right to abortion as logically requiring the principle of individual rights. The topics were always controversial. At other schools, leftist protesters often screamed, threw garbage, and generally disrupted the talks. Because of such hooliganism, for example, it took more than three hours to complete my global capitalism talk at the nearby University of Massachusetts.
But never at Harvard.
The Harvard kids always lived up to their reputation as serious students at one of the world’s preeminent centers of higher education. They sat, they listened, they thought about the intellectual content, they asked trenchant sometimes deeply antagonistic questions. They conducted themselves like scholars, not thugs.
It is heartbreaking to see Harvard today as a mouthpiece supporting the Hamas butchers and a hotbed of Leftist indoctrination that was ranked last—248th out of 248 colleges—by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) as a supporter of free speech on campus. Harvard’s current record on free speech, says FIRE, is “abysmal.”
This is a tragic demise into the abyss.
But we don’t give up. We stand up and speak out in every forum open to us for freedom of speech, freedom of intellectual expression, freedom of the mind. The battle is not hopelessly lost. We have barely begun to fight!
Hopefully, for example, the new University of Austin and its strong free speech platform will attract superlative students from all over the world. If so, will Harvard, in time, take notice and reverse course? It’s not impossible. It moved from a center of higher learning to a center of leftist indoctrination. It can move to once again become a true haven of intellectual freedom and higher learning where every question, no matter how controversial or upsetting, can be raised, seriously discussed, and debated—and where no one is suppressed for disagreeing with current academic orthodoxy. If it refuses to improve, we will thank Harvard for its past intellectual glories, condemn its current cesspool status, and give our full support to such promising free speech institutions as the University of Austin.
The campaign for freedom of the mind goes on: It merely changes its form.