Michael Rectenwald, recently retired from New York University, spent his life as a leftist — a self-described Marxist, in fact.
When on Twitter he began to turn against some of the recent excess, particularly on college campuses with their win-by-intimidation tactics, you know what happened: his leftist colleagues took it as an opportunity to examine their behavior and open a dialogue with people of different views.
You know that's not what happened. That's never what happens.
Instead, they completely isolated him on campus. Out of one hundred colleagues, perhaps two would say hello to him. People would not even get in the elevator with him.
They exiled him to the Russian department — where, he told me, the folks were also told he's a bad person who was not to be spoken to.
Nothing in his experience necessarily implies he would therefore abandon leftism. After all, even under the Soviet Union, there were plenty of cases of communists condemned to death by the Party who nevertheless continued to believe. "The Party is always right," they said.
Rectenwald is different.
He spent his career writing in left-wing journals about left-wing ideas.
He knows everything there is to know about postmodernism, deconstruction, and all the rest of it.
He knows these folks and their ideas inside and out.
And what happened to him at NYU caused him to reexamine all of it.
He's now reading Ludwig von Mises and describes himself as a libertarian.