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A Play of the Absurd

By B.J. Burke, WLG Commentary

The William Ayers-University of Wyoming immorality play belongs to the theater of the absurd. At first blush (and that is, after all, what the key players should be doing) the improbable sequence of events brings to mind an M. Staton Evans quip, “A modern liberal is someone who doesn’t care what you do as long as it is compulsory,” although these events are not quite that blithely paradoxical.

For starters, what kind of atrophied sensibilities would even contemplate allowing an unrepentant terrorist such as William Ayers to speak on campus, let alone actually give him the green light to do so?  A clue is provided in the name of the sponsoring department, the “Social Justice Research Center.” In his book The Fatal Conceit Frederick Hayek lists over 160 nouns to which “social” has been appended. Hayek concludes that the adjective saps meaning and substance wherever it is so used. Thinking goes wobbly and blurry, acuteness of judgment is lost, and dumb decisions such as inviting William Ayers to publically preen a destructive agenda cloaked in a “social change” soft-sell are made.

Act two of this drama: the cancelations.  Now true heroes emerge — alumni, donors and students with a conscience as opposed to a “social” conscience.  These in effect force our University into a reluctant fit of what might have been common sense.   But Social Justice Research Center Director Francisco Rios’ invitation withdrawal gives no mention of the fact that William Ayers has willfully and deliberately spent his adult life emitting viciously provocative words and exhibiting behaviors calculated to incite just about anyone who is not repulsed by the American flag.  Instead, Director Rios expressed vague concerns that civil protest and free speech on the part of regular justice advocates might become violent.  Nobody bought this. Perhaps there was a clear and present danger that sanity might prevail.

The administration’s tentative resistance to clear-headedness is evident in Provost Myron Allen’s subsequent rather pouty official statement, “the cancelation hurt the school’s invaluable reputation as a ‘neutral forum’ for intellectual debate.”  This is rendered more ludicrous considering that Director Francisco Rios issued his cancelation on the grounds of public safety.  In any case we can safely assume that William Ayers has never considered neutrality to be one of his cardinal virtues. One question leaps to mind, “Do either Provost Allen or Director Rios have any capacity for embarrassment?”

One person who expressed a degree of embarrassment was Judge William Downes, who affirmed the legality of shoving free speech down the throat of UW.  One can only imagine smiles on the faces of William Ayers and student Meg Lanker whose suit to force the students to be free won out.  Ayer’s attorney David Lane, whose list of illustrious clients includes Ward Churchill, no doubt gleamed along with his clients. What would one do without an instinct for the absurd?

Is there any sense to be made of this disparate narrative?  Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in his book On Certainty states, “When we first begin to believe anything, what we believe is not a single proposition, it a whole system of propositions.  Light dawns gradually over the whole.” Our post-modern sequence of events has become a surreal hologram of tepid reasons.

Why do we stand for it?  We hear that perhaps half the students attending left the theater of the absurd during Ayer’s lecture.  There was no mention of this in the Ayers Packs House Star-Tribune article.  Aren’t we paying for the full show? O temporal! O mores! Lights out.

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Wednesday, 23 August 2017
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