Dan Proft: Dan Proft here. On this edition of Against the Current we’re pleased to be joined by Andrew Kloster, who is a Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, specializing in 1st Amendment issues; 1st Amendment still a part of the Constitution; you may not know. We’re coming to you live from the Skyline Club on top of Old Republic Building, in downtown Chicago, as per usual. Andrew, thanks for being with us; great to have you.
Andrew Kloster: Thanks for having me.
Dan Proft: So, 1st Amendment; it is still a part of the Constitution, as I mentioned; as far as I know; you’re an attorney, licensed attorney; I went to Law School, didn’t want to practice law; didn’t even take the Bar, so I don’t keep up on these things. I don’t have to do continuing legal education to understand which Amendments to the Bill of Rights are still enforced and which are not, so you can educate me on that. But as we think about the freedoms that are enshrined in the 1st Amendment, the right to free speech and the right to freedom of assembly is under assault, and nowhere is that more of the case than on college campuses. You went to Miami University as an undergrad, or the U, as it’s called; I know that from the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. And I went to Northwestern University, which is one of the most overpriced institutions of alleged higher education across the fruited plains, and I wonder, before we get into some of the salient examples of totalitarianism in college campuses today, thinking about when you were an undergrad at Miami, what that experience was like some 15 years ago.
Andrew Kloster: Right, that’s right. Well, look, it was a great experience socially, but I think a lot of people nowadays, especially when you send your children to public school, not even just higher education, but primary school, you kind of have the idea that your child may get a degree, may get an education in spite of the school itself; and to some degree, that was my experience then. Certainly, I think it’s the experience of many college students now; that you go to college, you spend a lot of money, you’re kind of insulated, you get a social education, but so much of our civic history – you look at what’s happening now at Stanford, and the Western Civilization requirement is triggering its hate speech; we can’t have that, so these institutions can’t even teach, even if they wanted to now, and there was an anonymous article by a professor who said “I’m a liberal professor, I’m afraid of my liberal students”, because of how bad the politics are.
Dan Proft: So when I was an undergrad at Northwestern, I got involved in campus politics as a predicate to getting involved in electoral politics and policy after I graduated, and I think you’re right; I think there’s a lot of people who think, “Well, even though it’s overpriced, even though my child is going to have to endure this ridicule of they believe in things like the 1st Amendment”, it’s a credential they have to have in a world in which we live today, so it’s just something we have to endure; which is an odd way to approach education; I mean, as DH said, “The education’s not the filling of the pale, it’s the lighting of a fire”; we’re supposed to usher young people into the posture of being lifelong learners. That’s not happening. I was a despised person on the campus of Northwestern – as I am today, but for different reasons – when I was at Northwestern, I was kind of the honcho of a speaker’s bureau that would bring conservative speakers to campus; I along with a bunch of young people at the time – this is many, many years ago; a different era in American history, of pre-industrialization – we started a campus newspaper, an alternative to the daily paper on campus, called the Northwestern Chronicle, which I’m proud to say still exists today; and of course all my colleagues have gone out to be urologists and heart surgeons; they got real jobs. But it was fascinating; this was for me going back more than 20 years. And I remember what it was like in terms of the political correctness and the intolerance for descent back in the early 90s, in Evanston. Today, though, it seems like this has metastasized into a different strain of political correctness, where it’s not being driven by the students as much, it’s actually being driven by the alleged adults on campus, the professorate, the administration, that is as intolerant of descent as is these overgrown adolescents that are still trying to find their way in the world.
Andrew Kloster: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Case study A for that is this Melissa Click journalism professor at Missou’, who recently let go; she wasn’t a Journalism professor, she was a communication professor who was affiliated with the Journalism Faculty.
Dan Proft: And turned out to be kind of a thug.
Andrew Kloster: And a thug. And she should have known better. What did she do? She’s on video, you can go to YouTube and look at it, you can see a Journalism student trying to film this Black Lives Matter protest, and you can see other students saying “We have a 1st Amendment right on public property to not be filmed”, you know, news flash, you don’t, and you see this Journalism professor, this Communications professor trying to shut down the student journalist with his camera and saying “We need some muscle over here”, and physically assaulting this student. But that’s why she was let go, but I think it says a number of things; it says, number 1, you’re exactly right, it’s top down driven a lot of the censorship on campus; but number 2, while the 1st Amendment may be alive in the law, people are starting to have a radically different understanding of what the 1st Amendment really means. The fact that someone can claim “I have a 1st Amendment right not to be filmed”, that’s jut bizarre to me; I have a 1st Amendment right… I’m just exercising my rights to assault you; I’m just exercising my rights if I’m trying to shut you down, or if I protest you.
Dan Proft: Am I right to assault you in the case of Melissa Click; supersedes your right to ask other students questions peaceably.
Andrew Kloster: Right, because those questions are triggering, or hate speech; or something like that. So they used the language of the 1st Amendment, they used the language of rights, but the content of those rights are so radically different from I think what our founders thought – I know what our founders thought; I know what so many Americans of history thought – it’s just changed so rapidly, it’s very different from when you were there; it’s very different from when I was there. It’s just an amazing change.
Dan Proft: So there are merited examples of this, and we’ll get to them, but one thing about the Melissa Click case, since you brought it up, that has a note of encouragement, is that not only was she bounced from the University of Missouri, the whole falloff of what happened on that campus, with the football team, and with Click, and the way that people were simply asking questions and trying to engage in dialogue were treated, is that Missouri has lost 1500 students, and now faces a 30 million dollar plus budget deficit for the coming fiscal year; so you actually have parents and families voting with their feet and saying, “You know what, no. My kid, my money, we’re not going to finance this”.
Andrew Kloster: Right. Now, I think that’s correct. If I am a Missouri administrator and I go before the legislator, or I’m talking to the board of trustees, of course I’m going to say “Well, there are other problems out there; it’s a really bad environment for universities”. It has nothing to do with this incident. Yeah, there was some bad press, but people are not voting with their pocketbook, so I just think I’m not sure that this may have lasting impact for them unless they’re sustained attention, and have sustained decrease in their enrolment and funding and things like that. But it does show that – and just to kind of give a little preview – it does show that we have these 1st Amendment rights; we’ve tried to use the law to vindicate them a lot, but the number one thing that people can do to protect these rights is to vote with their pocketbook, is to have these alumni networks and to fight back through sort of direct action, rather than through legal action.
Dan Proft: And so we can chronicle all these examples; I do this on my Morning Show, on AM 560 all the time; University of Oklahoma, a human relations class where white people are not allowed to sing Rihanna songs because that could be a micro-aggression if you’re not from Barbados. Now I’m not one to invoke a lot of Rihanna songs normally, but of course this is secondary to the point. The chalk, I am traumatized by chalk, somebody writes “Trump 2016” in chalk on a sidewalk on a college campus at Emory University, one of the better Universities in the country in terms of reputation, and this traumatizes the entire community, including the University President. What are we to make of that, and frankly, what is the response, what should it be, from people that otherwise have – even just setting aside the Constitution for a second – who are adults in civil society who say “We can disagree about a presidential candidate, we can disagree civically and still respect one another’s right to express themselves”, because it’s sort of kind of the cornerstone of our free society.
Andrew Kloster: Right. In defense of the President of Emory I’ll just say that he did eventually come around and say, look – he started off by saying, there were these chalk “Trump 2016 stop Islam” chalk angst – maybe that was in Michigan where it also said “Stop Islam”, but…
Dan Proft: They all run together.
Andrew Kloster: They all run together because they are happening all over the country, but in fairness to him he said “I’m going to investigate”, and that’s wrong, but he eventually came back and said “Well, this is free expression, so we’re not going to investigate”, but that’s great that he did that, but that was only after having been educated by right groups and by a lot of his alumni, and I think that’s a bit important.
Dan Proft: Well, right, he’s the University President of Emory University and…
Andrew Kloster: He should know better.
Dan Proft: And his first instinct was the wrong one on something that to me seems patently obvious in terms of what the right response should be. So I don’t know, I’m not terribly encouraged.
Andrew Kloster: Neither am I, and I also think with Missou’, with the firing of the professor, that took a long time too. Anytime these things happen there’s a long drawn up process, and the instinct always seems to be in the direction of clamping down on this free expression. I do think the chalking – just as an aside – I’m surprised no one made the argument, yeah, that chalk is white, and that is part of the micro-aggression. They haven’t done that yet, but I think we’ll get there. Look, anonymous speech, it has a long pedigree in our country, and showing this groundswell of student support for candidate Trump, I think it indicates people do want to react to this kind of political correctness. The number one thing that I can say to people that they can do is to not sell censor, because that has been a one directional ratchet. Usually, when you say “Oh, it’s not my business, I’m not going to comment on this, I’m not going to comment on that”, that’s people trying to get along and be very polite, but in today’s society, it only ever works in one direction; the self-censorship is coming in one direction, and so I would just encourage people to speak their minds, and I think exercising the rights are the most important protector of those rights.
Dan Proft: One of the things – I mean it’s nice to have Larry Arnn and Hillsdale speak out in defense of Western Civilization; it’s nice to have the President of Oklahoma Wesley speak out in defense of Western Civilization, and tell his students “I’m not here to assuage your hurt feelings with every perceived transgression you suffer; we’re here to educate you and prepare you for life outside the halls of academia”. But the question is where are the other voices, and do Conservatives – and this is an area where the Heritage Foundation, unlike so many free market think tanks, is different in an important way and a positively important way - and I had the same conversation with former senator Jim DeMint, who of course the President of Heritage - that you also speak to culture. That you speak to these constitutional rights that extend beyond economic man and economic women, which is critically important, because culture drives everything. So where are the other voices, and is this a moment in time where Conservative intellectuals and others have to do a little bit of a mirror check and say “Are we putting in the fight the way that it need to be put in, where it needs to be put in; how have we seeded so much territory in higher education”, and frankly, in K-12 education, which you kind of referenced earlier, “to these agents of intolerance?”
Andrew Kloster: Right. I think that’s exactly right. There’s a deep difficulty among classical liberals and on the conservative side as well, because those aren’t necessarily the same thing, and I think one of the ways we’ve seeded a lot of ground has actually been relying on tolerance of so many ideas. I think tolerance of ideas is great, but there is a time and a place to say, “You’re done talking, it’s time to be educated”. Throughout the 90s we treated everyone with kid gloves, we had a lot of poor education at the elementary school level and we’re kind of reaping what we’ve sown, in terms of everybody thinking if they have the cookiest idea on the left, that that will be treated well, and if they have a complaint to a president about feeling bad, or to a social worker, that someone will handle that for them. But there is a time and a place for these social workers or these administrators to say “I understand that your feelings are hurt, but that’s just too bad”. And that’s not really a classical liberal response. The classical liberal response is something like “Get out all of these grievances and let people disagree, and let the truth rise to the top”. Unfortunately, I think what we’ve seen is, with a lot of this marketplace for ideas, sometimes the bad ideas rise to the top, and I think that’s a lot of what’s happened at these college campuses.
Dan Proft: But the bad ideas are rising to the top in the absence of people joining forces with people who are being persecuted for having an opinion on a college campus that doesn’t conform to the left wing orthodoxies.
Andrew Kloster: That’s exactly right, so I do think that… I don’t know why that is. You can say, maybe on the right, cultural conservatives and people of traditional values are so concerned with being educated that they’re not into political action. A lot of people say that sort of thing. You can say that we’re just more respectful and we don’t judge as much, and we’re like “Okay, go ahead and do that”, or you just realize that other people are crazy and we let them be crazy because they’ll crazy themselves out. But they’re not crazying themselves out, they’re taking over, they’re sitting in places, they’re taking over the physical spaces in the universities, at Harvard and elsewhere, and they’re eating their own. You look at Yale University, they are physically surrounding these professors and shouting them down; and it’s horrifying, so I think there’s definitely a place for administrators to enforce the educational mission of the universities and to take serious action against… and I think a few token examples of strong response to unreasonable action on the part…
Dan Proft: Yeah, give us one that’s encouraging.
Andrew Kloster: One, any one. I’m certainly not saying go full Kent state here; there’s a way you can go in the other direction, obviously, but I am saying that – I remember, my time, at the University of Miami, when students set up a tent city and were defecating on campus property, and they were not having anything happen to them, or they were physically taking over administration buildings…
Dan Proft: You guys called in Warren Sapp and had them sap.
Andrew Kloster: Did nothing. Did not call in Warren Sapp, didn’t do anything. Should have called in Warren Sapp, I think he would have had a good time.
Dan Proft: You should have.
Andrew Kloster: There’s no enforcement of the rules until the rules start strangling the people who are actually there to learn.
Dan Proft: Well, see, here’s the thing. I try to be introspective about this stuff a little bit and say okay, what are we doing that’s allowing this to go unchallenged? And since we’re looking down the road and we know where this road goes, when you allow intolerance to be unchecked, why are we allowing it to be unchecked? That to me is the thing where as much we can decry the idiocy of the totalitarian left all day long, but are we doing or not doing to allow to go unchecked in this way? That’s the thing that really irks me, is where are the voices of reason; and they exist in academia; they certainly exist in the political and policy arena, and there’s Jim DeMint, and there us you at Heritage, and there are others, Steve Moore we talk to regularly, and there are others that are willing to stand and be held accountable for what’s happening on their watch as we’re all held accountable for what’s happening as we exist in this period in time. But there are just not enough voices on the forget liberal conservative construct. The idea of truly respecting the concept about free marketplace of ideas versus those that may make pay ons to that concept, but don’t really respect it.
Andrew Kloster: Yeah, I think it’s sort of like the moderate Muslim complaint. But there are some liberal faculties that are starting to raise their hands. If you look at your alma mater Northwestern, there’s professor Laura Kipnis who has had some witch hunt against her for some of her comments related to Title IX.
Dan Proft: Not feminist enough.
Andrew Kloster: Not feminist enough, and so, they’re turning on their own, and I just hope that there are enough to recognize the treacherous situation that they’re in that they will send professors at Harvard, professors elsewhere, the American Association, the university professors, a variety of people on the left or on the civil libertarian side are certainly starting to change their tune about some of these things; some professors writing articles not only on the free speech stuff, but on some of the sexual assault type stuff on college campuses. I think there are people that are doing that, but the number one thing that needs to happen is individuals need to exercise their rights more, need to not apologize for who they are, need to be willing to do that civil disobedience. Get disciplined in school, raise holy hell about it, be heroic about these sorts of things; we also need [conservative? 00:19:33] action on the right, at the donor class, and people to setup programs to do some of these things, to legally fight this. Where I was formerly worked, fire was great; the future executive branch department, whatever incoming, President Cruz, President Trump, President whomever, that department of education needs to be aggressive in vindicating the rights of students. There needs to be a lot of central – the vanguard really does need to be laser targeted about this.
Dan Proft: And see, this is a long time coming; I mean, Shelby Steele wrote about this in “White Guilt”, and he talked about what it was like in the 60s, when he was a radical leftist on campus, and how the university just capitulated to the borsht behavior of the SDS, in his time, taking over the university President’s office, and how he was enraged by how flimsy was the defense of the administration to the protestations of the students; and he reflects back on that in his book “White Guilt”, which is a must read for anybody who respects individual rights in Western Civilization; Shelby Steele, one of the great and underrated thinkers and writers on these topics, particularly with respect to culture. And I think now, so I fast forward 45 years from Shelby Steele’s time as an undergrad, and you think of the John McAdams case at Marquette University, where he is drummed out of Marquette University - a Jesuit University, catholic, so ostensibly, nominally a catholic university - he is drummed out not for anything he did, but for chronicling an exchange, between a graduate student instructor and a student in a class that he had nothing to do with, on his blog, where the graduate student instructor wouldn’t allow the student to express his view in support of the traditional definition of marriage, consistent with cataclysm, consistent with catholic teaching, and he is the one who has violated the morays of Marquette University and Notre Dame, another nominal catholic university that invited a pro-board, like President Obama, to speak, who couldn’t muster the moral courage to oppose a ban on life-birth abortions, so extreme that even Hilary Clinton and Ted Kennedy voted to ban the procedure at the federal level; at the same time, President Obama couldn’t do it when he was a state senator in Illinois; and now they’re awarding Joe Biden another pro-board left-wing democrat nominal catholic the Laetare Medal for honoring catholic theology. It is so disgraceful and so disgusting, and yet as long as you have a good football team, the boosters will support Notre Dame, and as long as you can produce a Dwayne wave from time to time, the boosters will support Marquette University while an academic in the tradition upon which Marquette was founded, behave consistent with that tradition, and just exercises his view – not even as someone offering a commentary, but someone as chronicling an event that is not in dispute – he loses his position. If this happened on the left, there would be a hue and cry, there would be a siege in Milwaukee, and for us it’s yes, it’s so unfortunate what’s happening to John McAdams, and yes, it’s wrong, and yes, it’s terrible. Do we need to do a better job perhaps of adopting some of the tactics, the civil disobedience tactics, within the bounds of the law, the civil disobedience tactics of the left?
Andrew Kloster: There are other tactics of the left that I think are good here. Number one, if you recall, one of the things that lefters were very good at was providing – particularly in the 50s – with providing parachutes for people who were found out when they were infiltrating that agency and were kicked out. Well, okay, you come work for me; I think John McAdams, I think some good conservative donor needs to have a John McAdams chair somewhere at some university and provide him with…
Dan Proft: Yeah, that’s a good example.
Andrew Kloster: Leave no man behind. If there is one thing that we need to do…
Dan Proft: What did Bill Buckley use to say about conservatism versus the radical left? He said, “The thing that we don’t do a good job at”, this is Bill Buckley talking 30 years ago, “We don’t pick up our wounded at the battlefield and they always do”.
Andrew Kloster: And so we need to do that here. I think that’s one very easy thing. I, unfortunately, don’t have anybody I can pick up the phone and have them do that, but it’d be great if someone does.
Dan Proft: What about all that ridiculous Heritage Foundation money you make?
Andrew Kloster: That’s right.
Dan Proft: Come on, man!
Andrew Kloster: Yeah, alright.
Dan Proft: I’m Jim DeMint’s watch. Be careful.
Andrew Kloster: Just turn it around and I don’t ever write back, I don’t ever write back. Yeah, that’s one thing that we can learn from the left. I think, just to give a little historical context, if you recall, there was the whole free speech movement at Berkeley and elsewhere, and these student radicals were attacking what was not a really conservative establishment, but it was more of an urban Eisenhower kind of liberal establishment, which was, “We’re just going to do our job and just keep on getting on”, you know, get on getting on. And they fought, and they said give us all of these rights, and give us some buy-in to university process; and they got that. But these same student radicals are the administration today, and so instead of fighting against things now, they’re capitulating, because they agree politically with a lot of these people.
Dan Proft: We don’t have enough David Horowitz-es, the reformed radical, on the other side.
Andrew Kloster: And David Horowitz does a general good job, I think, of teeing up big firestorms more than anything else. I think there’s a useful function there. But so, these people, the inmates are not running the asylum, and so in another words, there’s a personnel problem, I think. And when it’s a personnel problem, and these institutions are so thoroughly corrupt, you either try a radical solution, or I would just tell people why are these boosters still donating. The function of universities is supposed to be to educate; we still have this fiction of student athletes, but this is just one more example of why that’s a terrible fiction. I certainly respect the history of Notre-Dame; I was just talking at their law school yesterday, but with them, with DePaul I just spoke there today, Marquette, all these other catholic institutions, Georgetown covering up their crosses; certainly catholic universities have lost sight – often, not all of them; there are lights out there still…
Dan Proft: University of Dallas, student developing.
Andrew Kloster: Dallas, yeah. There are lights up there, but a lot of them have lost sight of their mission to educate of their catholic mission; a lot of secular universities have lost sight of their mission to educate; and when you got two mission, you can always throw one under the bus in service of the other, and the person who usually loses that is the conservator and libertarian student, or the education of a student is completely apolitical. You’ve got a lot of time and a lot of money being wasted, being forced to take these sensitivity classes, orientation and elsewhere. I just really would encourage donors, university donors, I know that it’s really nice to be treated well, it’s really nice to get these great seats; you love your university, but you’re not helping if you keep giving blank checks to universities that treat their students poorly.
Dan Proft: And here, literally in Illinois, which is the bad example on so many fronts, including this one, literally the terrorists are winning. And I mean that word, terrorists. I mean, this is a state – I remember going back to my days as undergrad – we did a story in 1993 about Bernardine Dohrn, one of the Weathermen – a domestic terrorist organization responsible for murdering a police officer.
Andrew Kloster: She’s still out there. Yeah.
Dan Proft: Bernardine Dohrn headed up the Northwestern family law center. Her husband, Bill Ayers, terrorist, dedicated his last book that was essentially released concurrent to 9-11 to Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Bobby Kennedy; unrepentant domestic terrorist; at the university of Illinois, Chicago, emeritus professor who’s now enjoying a tax payer funded pension as is Bernardine Dohrn, those two – and not to mention, they’re big Obama supporters, particularly Ayers, I think perhaps ghost wrote Barrack Obama’s first book, but that’s a discussion for another day. And then James Kilgore, another terrorist who served 7 years in prison for acts against this country, violent acts against this country at University of Illinois. I mean, you have convicted and should be convicted terrorists. This isn’t people that have extreme views on the left, but they are just in the cloistered role of academia, where they can do no harm. Terrorists, killed people, served time in prison, at U of I, UIC, Northwestern, for decades, enjoying tax payer funded large S, and where is the hue and cry? I hate to continue to beat this drum and put you back on this question, but it really demands an accounting for what we’re doing or not doing, maybe to effectively communicate. What exactly is going on to the people with the pull strings; not just the boosters, but just rank and file parents that are sending their children to these universities?
Andrew Kloster: That’s right. So yeah, of course there is always a marketing issue on the right. If I had a nickel for every time someone came in and said the reason…
Dan Proft: You’re bad at marketing, yeah.
Andrew Kloster: The reason conservative ideas aren’t winning right now is because we need better marketing, I would be a rich man. I don’t think that gets us anywhere. I think there needs to be actual concerted effort; yes, the grassroots these parents need to change their behavior. But I don’t think they’re going to spontaneously do it, and I don’t think that defuse education necessarily works there. I think we are seeing one small point of light, not to endorse the man at all, but if you do look at these Trump chalks on campus, what is happening there, one positive aspect of that is here’s a man that’s saying certain things and he’s getting… and his particular example is allowing people to have social action in response; and I think that’s doing more good in a short time than a lot of conservative education does; it’s certainly not a replacement, but I do think that examples of individuals demonstrating some sort of fighting spirit that we seem to be lacking in so many places does a lot of good; demonstrating virtues is very good for teaching virtue, so I think that’s one way to fight back against political correctness. I also think there is a place for small cadres of conservative lawyers and other to make sure that the Bernardine Dohrn and others have justice served to them, and so I think it may not just be taking care of our wounded, but killing the other side’s wounded in a certain sense as well; finishing the job, because many of these people shouldn’t be in jobs; we talk about collateral consequences all the time, of low level drug offences, and people should be rehabilitated for those sorts of things, I think, but some of these very nasty political type crimes and killings, and like you said, domestic terrorism, people are still running freely, being hired in very nice places they really shouldn’t be. And I think there is a place for people in the Illinois House; I kind of laugh, because you know, they’re not going to do anything, b but people in the Illinois House, appropriators at different state levels, at the federal level, to do investigations, to bring out… to trial out these examples and to say “Why are they still on the payroll?” That’s the function of congress, and it’s up to a lot of constituents to send letters to their people to say “I don’t like the fact that this guy’s employed, can you look into it?”
Dan Proft: Yeah, I think that’s the thing that’s most disappointing, I would say, that you have so many people that are coward by the prospect of a backlash that they aren’t willing to say what they know to be true, and this is where Trump, even as inartful as he is most of the time has fomented a revolt because it was bubbling below the surface; just waiting for a trigger; waiting for someone to say “It’s okay to revolt against nonsense; to revolt against absurdity. Now we don’t want to fight absurdity with absurdity, but it’s kind of broke the seal and now maybe more people that had been a little bit shy are entering the arena; well, entering the arena in a more productive way that perhaps Trump has.
Andrew Kloster: That’s right, and I think the fundamental thing, as a culture, we don’t say no. We don’t ever say no. We don’t say no on any political issue; we always work to be very nice. People say Americans are loud and brash and mean; we’re actually a very nice people, and we have a hard time telling people no. I think that one of the important lessons of this political cycle, one of those very good lessons, is that having clear positions is not necessarily a bad thing; and so I certainly hope – and that certainly goes to how administration should handle themselves; don’t apologize for your catholic identity, own it, and if that means that you lose certain donors, or you lose certain students that were on the fence, maybe you didn’t need them in the first place. And that really does allow an authentic kind of classical liberalism, because instead of having one unified mushy set of universities that are all sort of the same, you’ve got lot of different universities with very strong identities, and people can find where they want to go with clear lines.
Dan Proft: That’s the thing that’s so interesting to me, is the idea that you would go through life apologizing for who you are; “I’m catholic, I’m sorry”. What are you sorry about? “I’m Republican, I’m sorry”. Who are you persuading with that approach? What kind of response is that to this onslaught of intolerance, and to your point about the Illinoisans just to say no, just to transition to another cultural issue that is particularly salient right now because of laws passed in North Carolina and Texas. We have a problem now, in this country, because we’ve left the left have the run of the field for so long; we have a problem saying no to this concept. In public multi-occupancy bathrooms, men should not go to the bathroom where women go. That statement that I just made now with some kind of indicia of hate and intolerance and absurdity, rather than the position that a Bruce Springsteen and Brian Adams and all kinds of tired 60 something has-beens are articulating.
Andrew Kloster: Right. And now I just found out that China has prohibited the depiction of homosexuality on television, in China. And do we think they’re going to not tour, you know, if they have the opportunity, in China? Do we think that some of these companies…
Dan Proft: PayPal will boycott North Carolina for not allowing men to go to the bathroom where women go, but they have no problem in 25 other countries, where they operate their business, where homosexuality is outlawed, at best, and persecuted at worst. This is the same frustration; we have the moral high ground. I may not agree with their choices, I may not agree with their philosophy, but I certainly respect you as a human being, and I certainly confer to you the same dignity that I hope you would confer to me, but that’s not good enough and Bruce Springsteen and Brian Adams and PayPal and Apple are going to tell me what’s right and what’s wrong and I’m just supposed to go along and be quiet?
Andrew Kloster: First, I’d say, a lot of this is a failure of the Republican Establishment, historically, in being asleep at the watch. I think it should have been alright for a state to be able to make a law like that, and it should also be alright for companies to lobby on one side or another, but one of the most amazing things that’s come out of this whole example is that we sort of see on the right, as conservatives, that businesses are not always our friend, that they come with certain values, and that making money often comes with certain social liberal values, certain big government and social liberal values.
Dan Proft: But also, isn’t it this, that the left is so much better at the Alinsky tactic of making the majority feel like their views are the insular minority, and they should be ashamed of their views, where it turns out that the concept of men and women not being different, that XX and XY are interchangeable parts, and that privacy in the bathroom is not something women are entitled to, that is not a sensible position, and I don’t care how many great movies Disney makes, or how many good concerts Bruce Springsteen puts on, it’s not a sensible position, so I’m just not on board for that. I’m not attacking anyone, I don’t want anyone to feel bad about themselves, but I just don’t want to go along with something that is manifestly absurd,
Andrew Kloster: Yeah, I think that goes back to not wanting to say no. On the right we – and particularly, again, with classical liberal instincts – we want to discuss everything, we want to have ideas, hit each other and keep talking, keep talking, keep talking, but at some point you have to make a decision with what’s the correct answer, and we want to appear very reasonable, and we don’t want to discount ideas, and we want to talk with our friends on the left, and we want to come to a rational idea, because look, we’re conservatives, we’re not these thugs that you keep saying that we are, so we’ll just talk this out. But there is a place for, not thuggery per se, but for saying no and saying “These are the bounds of what reasonable disagreement is, you’ve gone outside it”. I’m not even going to engage with that. I’m going to mock it, I may not even talk about it. One of them, historically, I think, is sexually abusing a child, and yet now we’re seeing, of course, certain people in different places saying, “Well, you know”…
Dan Proft: Cultural differences.
Andrew Kloster: Cultural differences, what’s the age of consent, it’s alright, or polygamy.
Dan Proft: Fascinating.
Andrew Kloster: What used to be, people would get mad. I mean, if you ever suggested that sort of thing probably 50 years ago, I’d imagine you’d get socked for even saying it. Now, you can’t make that clear moral judgment. So I think it’s important, and I hope that we get overturned of really the American ID, just, you know, what right and wrong are; it’s not a quick thing, this phenomenon of people fighting back against political correctness. I think it remains to be seen whether or it’s a lasting backlash, whether there will be real fruits, or whether this is going to simmer down and people will go back to their little Heidi-hos. I hope not, I hope that there’s a lasting backlash there; I hope that people grow a little bit of spine; I can even think on college campuses, you look at all these videos of Black Lives Matter - or whatever – protesters, and they march through the library and people are studying, and not one person who’s studying is willing to say, “Will you keep it down?”
Dan Proft: Right, for fear. Now what kind of life is that to lead that you know what is true but you live in fear of saying what you know to be true? Boy, that is a dangerous path, isn’t it?
Andrew Kloster: And it’s not even clear to me at that point if you really know what’s true, because like Plato said, “If you know what’s true, you’re going to act on it, and if you’re not willing to act on it, how much do you really believe in it?” I used to work with a great organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education; the precipitating event for why that organization was founded was at the University of Pennsylvania, when a Jewish student was being disrupted from his studying, and he shouted out the window.
Dan Proft: I remember that.
Andrew Kloster: And yet, now it’s so far down the line that no one’s going to shout out the window anymore for fear of offending the people who are protesting.
Dan Proft: I remember that. That incident occurred about the time I was an undergrad. I remember that.
Andrew Kloster: Right. Now people are even willing to speak up against these things. So, I really can’t encourage people enough to just… shaming and cultural norms are the way we live together, apart from law, it’s very important and it’s very important to enforce these things; to tell people when they’re acting out or when they’re not acting out, to praise good behavior and to condemn bad behavior. We don’t do that.
Dan Proft: And sometimes conservatives fall back in this position because they do so on other issues, and they feel they have to be consistent across the board to say, “Well, the law is the law, and that’s the end of the discussion”.
Andrew Kloster: Sure.
Dan Proft: Actually, it’s the beginning of the discussion, because is the law, as it is currently constituted, founded in constitutional principles, and frankly, take one step back, natural law? Is it founded in morality, and if it’s not, then it should be challenged. I recognize you have to abide an immoral law until you can change it, but you should work to change it. And so this idea that the law is the law and it’s just settled, Andy Kennedy writes an op-ed masquerading as a Supreme Court opinion about the institution of marriage, well then that’s the end of the discussion. The left doesn’t take that as the end of the discussion, they take that as the beginning of the discussion. Not in the Andy Kennedy case, because it was consistent with their view, so of course, their ethics are if you’re supporting me, then that’s where my ethics are; my interests change and my ethics change. But conservatives, seems to me, need to take the same position, which is to say this is the beginning of the discussion; just because 50% +1 of some legislative body with an executive signatory said something is moral doesn’t make it so in perpetuity; the debate continues.
Andrew Kloster: Right, I completely agree with that. I think on the right we don’t play the same game sometimes. I’m very privileged that at Heritage Foundation and our legal center to work on a lot of these litigations campaigns in one capacity or another. One thing that I notice is when the left sues – and it’s effective and it’s the right way to go – they’ll try to get a law passed, and they may lose, but they’ll raise it the next year, and they’ll make it a few more votes, and then they’ll say “Hey, we got a few more votes”; the momentum’s on their side, and the next year, few more votes, few more… and they do it every year. We have very few laws like that, that we raise consistently and then trump at the fact that we keep getting more and more votes. They always try to make it look that there’s a snowball, but then, when they get what they want, you know, that is the permit you can never go in the other direction with the bathroom bills, with the gay marriage decision, with any of that stuff, they say “I’m sorry, it’s done, debate’s over, we can’t talk with you anymore about this because it’s done, the law is set”. So I don’t know if we necessarily should be doing that exact same thing on the right, because I don’t necessarily think that’s the right way to approach law in general, but we certainly should be pushing and pushing and pushing to try to create more space for traditional individual rights and freedoms in state legislatures, at the federal level, in the law and elsewhere. They’re very good at when we lost it’s temporary, but when we win it’s permanent, and we don’t have that same mentality on the right. Maybe we should, maybe we should start having that mentality, but I think it would acquire a certain cohesiveness among our movement that we don’t have right now.
Dan Proft: He is Andrew Kloster, he‘s a Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an expert in the1st Amendment issues as you have heard in no uncertain terms for the better part of the last hour. Andrew Kloster, thanks so much for joining us on Against the Current. I appreciate it.
Andrew Kloster: Thanks for having me.