Conservative feminist shouted down at Lewis & Clark
The internet is abuzz with stories of a protest against Christina Hoff Sommers, a conservative scholar on feminism, at Lewis & Clark College on Tuesday, March 5.
While several accounts note that the majority of the approximately 90 attendees were calm, some activists shouted down the lecturer with chants and songs at the beginning of her noontime speech.
An unidentified woman in a video uploaded to Twitter engaged the audience in a call-and-response, preventing Sommers from speaking.
"Christina Sommers. Has repeatedly. Delegitimized. The suffering of women. Worldwide," shouted a women in a video by Andy Ngo, a Portland State University graduate student and journalist. "Rape culture is not a myth. Microaggressions are real. The gender wage gap is real. Trans people are real."
Ngo's video had been viewed 394,000 times by 5 p.m. Tuesday. He is a PSU political science graduate student who said he is interested in "illiberal" reactions, defined as restriction of freedom of thought or behavior. He said he was involved in bringing to Portland State University James Damore, the Google employee who was fired for a memo many felt degraded women in tech.
Ngo said he was surprised at the reaction his video has had, having been picked up on news outlets across the nation.
The Lewis & Clark event was not open to the general public and a spokeswoman questioned Ngo's motivations for being there.
He said he is interested in the lengths activists will go to silence opposition.
"Analyses and ideas drawn from evidence should be — at a minimum— heard, if not seriously considered," Ngo told the Tribune via Twitter. "If we are unable to have and hear these conversations in institutions of learning, I don't know where we can."
Sommers is known for criticizing modern feminists for playing the victim and worries that men and boys are being harmed by some of the pro-women rhetoric. She was invited to speak at Lewis & Clark at the invitation of the Federalist Society, a conservative student group.
On Sommers' most recent post on her video blog, "The Factual Feminist," she cautions those in the #MeToo movement to adopt a more nuanced approach, to avoid undercutting their message.
Sommers works for the nonpartisan conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank the American Enterprise Institute.
On her twitter account, she criticized the administration of Lewis & Clark for cutting her talk short and moving to questioning.
Diversity Dean at Lewis & Clark was present.She approached podium in middle of my talk & asked me to wrap up my speech & take questions. I was never able to develop my argument.Shouldnâ€™t the dean have insisted protesters allow me to finish, rather than cut speech short? https://t.co/1d43iDeo7P— Christina Sommers (@CHSommers) March 5, 2018
"Shouldn't the dean have insisted protesters allow me to finish, rather than cut speech short?" she wrote.
Judy Asbury, a spokeswoman for Lewis & Clark, said the college's dean of diversity and inclusion negotiated with Sommers to shorten her speech, and she agreed.
The college administrator had convinced the protestors to sit down by "persuading them to wait for question-and-answer period, so that civil discussion could prevail."
Asbury said she expects the conversation to continue on campus but that there are no expected changes to policy at this point. She said the social media universe has exploded since Ngo posted his videos, but it hasn't moved beyond the tweets and posts.
"Obviously, Twitter and Facebook are pretty lit up," she said. "But there's not been a real even-handed discussion of the merits of controversial speakers on campus.
"That's what we're really working toward steering the conversation," Asbury continued. "We really do welcome speakers with a variety of views. That's part of the law school experience."