By Nicole Russell • The Federalist

The Federalist society at the Lewis and Clark Law School invited Christina Hoff Sommers, scholar, author, and outspoken critic of feminism to speak Monday, and student groups quickly organized to get her invitation rescinded. When that didn’t work, protesters gathered inside and outside the venue, accused her of being a fascist, and Sommers’ actual speech was cut short, due to protestors’ interruptions and heckling.

The fact that law school students, acting more like social justice warriors than thoughtful scholars, would falsely label Sommers as a fascist, yet prohibit her from speaking at a venue, is a bad sign about the future of our public discourse and the right of free speech. Apparently it needs to be said that Christina Hoff Sommers is not a fascist. She isn’t.

Several separate groups affiliated with the law school — the Women’s Law Caucus and the Jewish Law Society, to name a few — banded together and wrote a letter demanding the school rescind her invitation. They insisted her invitation was “troubling” and “under the guise of ‘open debate’ and ‘free discourse’ … [Federalist Society invited] a known fascist to our campus to encourage what we believe to be an act of aggression and violence toward members of our society who experience racial and gendered oppression.” Following their request to disinvite Sommers, the groups said they would be handing out signs with messages voicing their dissent, during her talk.

They followed through on the protest and threw a fit during her lecture.

Not to be deterred, Sommers tried to go forward with her speech, once the room quieted down. Still, the students, who were actually attending Lewis and Clark to study law of all things, interrupted and demanded she answer questions, mid-argument.

Their attempt to malign her as a fascist has no basis in reality. The actual definition of fascism, while it may be unknown or obscure to a group of 20-something law students, is easy to look up — “a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power” — and even easier to point out over the course of history.

Fascists hate democracy, espouse violence to achieve power and compel believers to a national identity, among other red flags. True fascists are people like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, who infamously branded themselves fascists with movements that executed millions of innocent people, all in the name of power. Protesting third-wave feminism, balking at a so-called pay-gap, cautioning the #MeToo movement could go too far, and sounding an alarm over the war on boys do not make Sommers anything close to a fascist.

The reaction to Sommers’ speech shows the danger of progressive thought-policing. Rather than listen to Sommers’ arguments to see if she indeed did espouse fascist views of any kind, a small group of protestors proved they could no more handle the idea of disagreement, than actual debate. (To be fair, according to videos posted on Twitter, many students listened politely and even encouraged their fellow students who were protesting to listen.) By introducing Sommers with an absurd, off-tune jingle spouting “no platform for fascists” and interrupting her introduction with shouts, questions, and comments, to the point where the Diversity Dean finally asked Sommers to wrap up her speech for Q&A before she was really able to get into the meat of her arguments, the students proved to be their own worst enemies.

Instead of protesting a visit from a fascist, some students demonstrated themselves to be the fascists, except not the Neo-Nazi kind, but rather, the “anti-fascist” kind. One of the tell-tale signs of fascism of any kind is silencing speech and ideas that differ from whatever the accepted norm happens to be. According to the letter many of the groups signed asking to rescind Sommers’ invitation to speak, these students value recognizing “genderqueer and non-conforming persons,” the idea of a wage gap, recognizing the prevalence of “male-supremacist groups” and other concepts with which Sommers disagrees. Rather than hear her, they silenced her; rather than understand her, they labeled her.

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