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Youngkin Decries Higher-Ed Cancel Culture

VA Gov. Glenn Youngkin
VA Gov. Glenn Youngkin

By James A. Bacon, originally published in Bacon’s Rebellion, and published here by agreement. 

Glenn Youngkin didn’t have much to say about “cancel culture” in Virginia’s colleges and universities when he was on the campaign trail, aiming his fire instead at radical social-justice policies in K-12 schools. But at a speech delivered at the University of Virginia law school Friday, he criticized intolerance in higher education and made the case for intellectual diversity on college campuses.

Vladimir Putin is a tyrant, Youngkin said in an address to The Federalist Society, but the greatest threat to American democracy does not come from abroad. Said he:

The greatest threat to our democracy comes from a growing tendency to loathe rather than listen. It comes from a desire to bully and not persuade. Such a culture of contempt, this cancel culture, is toxic to our democracy, and unless the schools that exist to teach our young people take responsibility for being a solution, our democracy will indeed be in danger.

Youngkin faulted colleges for incubating the cancel culture, according to WSLS 10 television news. When students arrive on campus,  the Governor asked, do they find their communities to be “open, welcoming to diverse ideas? Are they encouraged, equipped and empowered to think for themselves and express their views without fear? Or are they more often subjected to a stifling conformity?”

The Governor gave no indication of what, if anything, he proposes to do about the culture of stifling intellectual conformity. In his first two months in office, he has focused on The General Assembly session, the budget, COVID-19 policy, and undoing Northam-administration social-justice initiatives in K-12 schools.

The remarks at the Federalist Society were the first indication Youngkin has given publicly that higher-ed cancel culture is a major concern.

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