MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — An author of a book discussing racial differences in intelligence who was shouted down by protesters at Middlebury College when he gave a guest lecture and was confronted by some of them afterward says he wants the college to sanction those involved.
Charles Murray, who describes himself as a libertarian and social scientist, warned that anything less could become an inspiration for other protests and has the potential “to be a disaster for American liberal education.”
He says when he left the building where his lecture was held last week he walked into “the middle of a mob.”
“If that’s the new normal then why would any college in its right mind allow a controversial speaker to arrive?” he said on Monday. “Because no college wants to go through what Middlebury’s gone through.”
Middlebury police are investigating what happened after Murray’s talk Thursday. A professor had her hair pulled and injured her neck, but Murray was unharmed, the college said.
The college has initiated an independent investigation, college President Laurie Patton said in a letter to the school community.
“Once that work is completed, the college will follow a process of determining a course of action for each individual understood to be involved in some way in the events of last Thursday,” she wrote.
She said people have the right to make their voices heard in support of and in opposition to other people and ideas.
“Our concern,” she said, “is acts of disruption and violence, where available means of peaceful protest were declined.”
Murray is known for co-authoring the 1994 book “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” which suggested genetics and environmental factors play a role in explaining racial differences. He was invited to speak at Middlebury by a student group, the American Enterprise Institute Club.
Hundreds of students chanted as Murray began to speak Thursday, forcing the college to move the lecture to an undisclosed location. Murray’s talk was live-streamed to the original venue, but protesters drowned it out. The topic, he said, was the divergence of the country’s culture into a new upper class separated from mainstream America.
Afterward, a group of protesters surrounded Murray, professor Allison Stanger and college administrator Bill Burger as they were leaving, he said. The protesters became violent, with one pulling Stanger’s hair, twisting her neck, the college said.
After Murray and the two Middlebury staff members got into a car to leave, protesters banged on the windows, climbed onto the hood and rocked the vehicle, the college and Murray said.
“If it hadn’t been for Allison and Bill keeping hold of me and the security guards pulling people off me, I would have been pushed to the ground,” Murray said.
The college said it believes outside agitators were involved.