Middlebury students chant and shout to prevent Charles Murray from speaking.
He later is led to a private location, where a discussion with a professor is live streamed.
March 3, 2017
Students at Middlebury College on Thursday chanted and shouted at Charles Murray, the controversial writer whom many accuse of espousing racist ideas, preventing him from giving a public lecture at the college.
Murray had been invited by Middlebury’s student group affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank at which Murray is a scholar. Many of his writings are controversial, but perhaps none more than The Bell Curve, a book that linked intelligence and race and that has been widely condemned by many social scientists (even as Murray has been supported by others).
Prior to the point when Murray was introduced, several Middlebury officials reminded students that they were allowed to protest but not to disrupt the talk. The students ignored those reminders and faced no visible consequences for doing so.
As soon as Murray took the stage, students stood up, turned their backs to him and started various chants that were loud enough and in unison such that he could not talk over them. Chants included:
- “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away.”
- “Your message is hatred. We cannot tolerate it.”
- “Charles Murray, go away. Middlebury says no way.”
- “Who is the enemy? White supremacy.”
- “Hey hey, ho ho. Charles Murray has got to go.”
Murray left for the Peace Corps in Thailand in 1965, staying abroad for a formative six years. At the beginning of this period, the young Murray kindled a romance with his Thai Buddhist language instructor (in Hawaii), Suchart Dej-Udom, the daughter of a wealthy Thai businessman, who was “born with one hand and a mind sharp enough to outscore the rest of the country on the college entrance exam.” Murray subsequently proposed by mail from Thailand, and their marriage began the following year, a move that Murray now considers youthful rebellion. “I’m getting married to a one-handed Thai Buddhist,” he said. “This was not the daughter-in-law that would have normally presented itself to an Iowa couple.”
Murray credits his time in the Peace Corps in Thailand with his lifelong interest in Asia. “There are aspects of Asian culture as it is lived that I still prefer to Western culture, 30 years after I last lived in Thailand,” says Murray. “Two of my children are half-Asian. Apart from those personal aspects, I have always thought that the Chinese and Japanese civilizations had elements that represented the apex of human accomplishment in certain domains.”
Recalling his time in Thailand in a 2014 episode of “Conversations with Bill Kristol,” Murray noted that his worldview was fundamentally shaped by his time there. “Essentially, most of what you read in my books I learned in Thai villages.” He went on, “I suddenly was struck first by the enormous discrepancy between what Bangkok thought was important to the villagers and what the villagers wanted out of government. And the second thing I got out of it was that when the government change agent showed up, the village went to hell in terms of its internal governance.”
Murray’s work in the Peace Corps and subsequent social research in Thailand for research firms associated with the US government led to the subject of his statistical doctoral thesis in political science at M.I.T., in which he argued against bureaucratic intervention in the lives of the Thai villagers