Graduation time reminds me of some of the great novels that I read as a student. Two of my favorite novels, George Orwell's "1984" and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," serve as important reminders of the dangers of extreme politics usurping our precious freedoms.
Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" paints a picture of a totalitarian society in which firemen no longer put out fires, but rather set fires to collections of banned books.
You say that such things could never happen here? Guess again.
Earlier this month at nearby UC Riverside, student activists stole 8,000 copies of the campus newspaper, the Highlander, in response to a front-page report about a recent student Senate meeting.
At this meeting, campus radicals denounced fellow white students as "crackers" and compared the campus police and Greek fraternity system to the Ku Klux Klan.
Such Orwellian tactics by student groups are just a symptom of a larger problem. For decades now, students have been captive of leftist indoctrination by professors teaching liberal and even Marxist agendas.
Using code words like "tolerance" and "diversity," campus faculty have pushed their agendas to indoctrinate students in leftist ideologies. A recent survey that polled 32,000 professors indicated that 48 percent identified themselves as liberal or far-left while only 18 percent identified themselves as conservative.
It's no wonder that some students actually act upon this political indoctrination and practice censorship by raiding newspaper racks. Leftist student groups, aided by sympathetic professors, regularly promote anti-Americanism. Tolerance only applies to liberal viewpoints while diversity is only skin deep. What is really lacking is a diversity of ideas.
Making matters worse, UC President Richard Atkinson has proposed loosening the current UC code that restricts professors from using their classrooms as stages for propaganda. This will only exacerbate bias and censorship on campuses under the guise of reforming academic freedom.
To counter this bias, organizations such as Campus-Watch.org and NoIndoctrination.org have formed to monitor indoctrination and censorship on college campuses. The NoIndoctrination Web site even lists some examples of classroom bias at UC Riverside and at nearby Cal State San Marcos.
Many students themselves are taking the wheel and forming their own organizations and newspapers. The notoriously liberal UC Berkeley now has a student newspaper dedicated to free enterprise and conservative principles, aptly named "California Patriot."
Many 2003 graduates will find themselves in positions of power throughout the private sector and in government. The prospect of any of Riverside's Orwellian newspaper thieves controlling these levers of power in our society is a truly disturbing one.
It is crucial for our institutions of higher learning to produce free-thinking, ethical and productive graduates who will solve problems and advance our society. Today's newspaper censors may well become tomorrow's book burners.
Free speech and open debate will ensure that the job of a fireman remains fighting fires. Let's hold these Riverside student censors fully accountable and also send them back for remedial schooling ---- quick!
Rick Reiss of Temecula is a regular columnist for the Californian