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Extremism In Academia

[FrontPage - opinion]

Glen Kissel did not recognize the name. Reading through the website of his employer, the University of Southern Indiana, on March 29th, the assistant professor of engineering marked that the following Monday the school was slated to play host to someone named Gary Yourofsky. By all appearances an animal-rights activist, he was to deliver a lecture on "Ethical Veganism." According to the school's description, Yourofsky "asks people to be kind to animals and ultimately, to go vegan." It seemed innocent enough.

Until Kissel clicked on the Yourofksy's website,, featured prominently on the school's online bulletin. What he found there shocked him. No common campaigner for the virtues of tofu of wheat germ, Yourokfsy, it turned out, was an animal-rights ultra who openly endorsed violence against humans and forthrightly supported eco-terrorist organizations.

What arrested his attention was an article Yourofsky had authored in 1997 under the title "Empathy, Education & Violence: A Time for Everything" and updated in 2005. A brief for the view, prevalent among the outer fringes of the animal-rights movement, that "violence" was preferable to "apathy," the article carried the following admission: "Given the choice of apathy or someone liberating mink, burning down a research torture-laboratory, or killing a vivisectionist or other DIRECT murderer of animals, I will choose the aforesaid actions over apathy any day of the week." Elsewhere in the article, Yourofsky declared his belief that "since violence is an essential part of activism, even if an abuser of animals perished during a fire or other form of direct action, I would unequivocally support that, too."
There is one thing, however, that you will not find on Yourofsky's website: a repudiation of his past support for violence and lawbreaking in the service of animal rights. And with good reason. Even as he has been welcomed into universities nationwide, Yourofsky remains an unreconstructed supporter of animal-rights extremism as practiced by the ALF.
Ultimately, the fact that an extremist in the mold of Yourofsky could be welcomed by a university is a symptom of a deeper problem plaguing higher education. USI is no exception. Although the administration defied left-wing voices on campus by canceling the recent event, that independence is a rarity at the school. On poring over past press releases and talking to alumni, Glen Kissel found a startling "lack of intellectual diversity in the kinds of speakers that are brought to campus." By way of illustration, he notes that the school has hosted only two conservative speakers in the last 17 years.

Certainly such intellectual disparities are cause for concern. But perhaps nothing demonstrates the ills of modern academia so well as the following fact: At thousands of schools across the country, Gary Yourofsky remains a guest of honor.

Jacob Laksin is a senior editor for FrontPage Magazine. His e-mail is [email protected].

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