Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Academic diversity yet again

Here’s the press release from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni describing the survey Jeff Jacoby discusses in his column.

And here’s more from the WSJ’s "Taste" page on the same subject.

Finally, here’s a link to "Brainwashing 101," a documentary you can watch online about you know what.

Discussions - 14 Comments

And since diversity of thought is so prized here, don’t forget this one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34009-2004Dec3.html?nav%3Dmost_emailed&sub=AR

Great quote -
"When Harvey Mansfield, a Harvard conservative, was asked about the difficulty conservatives had getting tenure, he sighed ironically, ’Well, I guess they’ll have to go to Washington and run the country.’"

Indeed, considering the right/Repubs have a lock on The White House, Congress, The Supreme Court, the entire socioeconomic system and its particular incarnation, popular interpretations of current events (End of History, Clash of Civilizations, Dispensationalism/Left Behind, etc.), and apparently the concerns of 51% of the voters, isn’t this indeed the most ironic kind of "victim politics" practiced by the victorious?? Apparently, the brainwashing is being effectively neutralized by conservatives in the World Beyond the Ivory Tower where 99.9% of people live their daily lives, and this neutralization of leftist professors’ agitprop helped to secure Bush’s mandate.

Also, voting tendencies among the college-educated in our last election indicate that conservatives might owe UNDERGRAD college professors a big thank you, as AP polls indicated that Bush had a 16% edge over Kerry among those with some college or a 4-yr. degree. Again, how successful is this alleged "brainwashing?" If this is as much impact as the dominant liberals in academia can muster, I think all the fuss is terribly exaggerated. Now, as Kerry was favored by those w/ graduate degrees or only high school (or less) education, these are perhaps areas where we really need to smoke out the leftists...

Good points. Ultimately I think that the real problem with the left-wing lock on academia isn’t what it will do to the country, but what it will do to academia, which is becoming further and further marginalized.

I’m a student at Notre Dame. While the overall student population voted for Bush over Kerry by a slim margin in a mock election, the break down by year levels was much more interesting. Freshman voted for Bush by approx. 65-35. It was a steady decrese from there. By the time graduate students were tabulated the margin was the oppossite 65-35 for Kerry. Coincidence? Maybe.

As for your comparison to Republican control of politics: they do not dominate the legislative branch 85-15 like the left does in academia (or numbers similar to that). And republican certainly don’t control the bureaucracy. Thats been a liberal stronghold since its inception.

Rob: Bureaucracy is a liberal invention? Did liberals bring VD to the New World, as well? Have you noted the recent increase at Homeland Security since its inception?

Joe K: Did you read the part in this unbiased ACTA report that suggested that Biology, Engineering, and Psychology have nothing to do with politics? Won’t the stem-cell research opponents be happy to hear that? Or, the school boards in Texas ordering their text stickers warning students that Darwin’s "theory" is only a theory, and that abstinence is the only safe way to prevent STD’s? I am surprised, as well, to hear that choice/right-to-life issues have nothing to do with human behavior, or with biology.

"...the real problem with the left-wing lock on academia isn’t what it will do to the country, but what it will do to academia, which is becoming further and further marginalized."

I’m genuinely confused. If the impact of the left-wing lock on academia poses no serious risk to the country, AND it will marginalize academia (which is dominated by the left), then isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t it another victory for conservatives? As in, the left can HAVE the academy, as it’s ignored by mainstream America and thoroughly marginalized, and conservative ideas are winning handily without help from academia anyway? (Now, of course, that small handful of conservative profs might simply be looking out for their own salaries, tenure, or what have you, in self-interest, which is understandable...)

Fung: Actually, if bureaucracy was not a liberal invention, then at the very least they brought it to Amerca, a la Woodrow Wilson and the other Progressives. Not only him, but James Landis is a famous New Deal era name and huge promoter of the administrative state.

You’re right that republicans have created bureaucracy in their day, but that fact remains that the administrative state is generally hostile to republican controla nd generally supportive of democrats.

If you believe in limited government, like most conservatives do, then the bureaucracy is a bad thing: unjust and unconstitutional. If you believe in the power of the federal government, then its only reasonable that it is able to exercise that power through bureuacratic institutions.

If the impact of the left-wing lock on academia poses no serious risk to the country, AND it will marginalize academia (which is dominated by the left), then isn’t this a good thing?

It’s only a good thing if you don’t think it’s important to have an educated populace. My ideal is an academia which attracts the brightest and most creative people not matter what their politics are, thus helping young people to understand the responsibilities of citizenship. Nobody, left or right, should want to see academia become irrelevant. The problem is that people like Fung don’t understand what’s really happening.

In fact, Fung’s comments are a prime illustration of what is wrong in most of higher education. Apparently his experience with conservatives is so limited that he really thinks that only liberals are "open to ideas" and "value the free expression of those ideas." In fact, I have had plenty of experiences with liberals who are completely closed to conservative ideas, and seek to suppress them. If Fung has truly never encountered a conservative who is not a closet totalitarian, this is about as damning an indictment of the left’s monopoly over education as I can think of.

J. Moser said:

"Nobody, left or right, should want to see academia become irrelevant."

Ok, my confusion has subsided. Thanks for the clarification. I very much agree (with your statement above, at least).

Reply to John Moser-

John- I, too, am glad to hear that you are concerned, not for Right-wing representation, but rather for the health of academia. I just don’t see the danger. I really don’t! I have taught and learned at two of the institutions polled in Jacoby’s article, and I am currently teaching at one that fits the profile. And still, this is only my own experience. We have plenty of conservatives on our faculty, and we have had plenty of spirited discussions regarding the role of faculty in politics, and vice versa.

I must admit, too, that if I perceived the balance in academia to be reversed, I would be concerned. At this point, however, with attacks on Affirmative Action, on tenure, and my perception of a general attack on intellectual/academic pursuit, I feel relieved that there is a place where the free expression of ideas is encouraged-- even if those ideas are dissonant with my own!

It seems that both sides suffer from a sort of seige mentality. Right now, I feel that your side has the numerical and legislative advantage, and I am truly nonplussed.

As for my tone, I am reacting NOT to the several open-minded conservatives whom I have met, personally, but rather to the overall mean-spirited generalizations and liberal-bashing that I perceive on this blog.

Finally, I have not suggested that all conservatives are closet totalitarians. Instead, I am suggesting (and this is part of my surprise at the rise of the right)that people are so apparently ready to accept simple, distorted versions of a complex world.

In fact, I feel that many Republicans (and I am related, fondly, to many of them!) have swallowed a line of bull. They are not closet totalitarians, but rather fodder for the real totalitarians. Why don’t they worry that they are not allowed to see images of the coffins returning from Iraq? Why are they not worried that this exchange might be monitored, and any participant singled out as a possible terrorist, then arrested without due process? Why are they not worried that we are borrowing from our children in order to pay for a war that was initiated on false grounds? Why are they not worried about the parallels between this war and the one in Vietnam? It is not our disagreement that worries me. Rather, it is the tacit acceptance that I perceive, when they believe that criticism of a president is unpatriotic, or when they believe that handing over our constitutional rights will make us stronger.

I am surrounded by conservatives, John, and still, none of them have convinced me that Erich Fromm was wrong when he suggested that people are basically motivated to escape from freedom. Among the avenues of escape from "Freedom to...." automaton conformity, malignant aggression, and authoritarianism.

Fung: I must confess that I do sleep better at night, knowing that George W. Bush is President, given the alternatives in 2000 and 2004. I don’t think he is a totalitarian, nor do I think that Iraq is another Vietnam. I think Islamist terrorism, which knows no limits in its willingness to victimize innocent people, is the great challenge of the early 21st century. And I don’t think that reactively relying on "law enforcement" or awaiting a global consensus (available only briefly in the aftermath of a massive disaster) is the way to proceed.

That said, I don’t believe criticizing President Bush is unpatriotic. But I must confess to having heard and read a lot of "Bush-bashing" that would qualify as "mean-spirited." And for pure venom and bile, no one I know (among academics)beatsBrian Leiter, whose nastiness about conservatives masquerades as a concern for high intellectual standards.

I appreciate your response, but everything you say here could be turned around and applied to liberals as well. If conservatives sometimes resort to labeling their opponents as unpatriotic, isn’t it also true that liberals have their own nasty labels--racist, sexist, homophobic--that they’re more than happy to apply to those who disagree with them?

Fromm was indeed correct about the desire of people to escape from freedom, but it’s equally true of liberals. What is the liberal "nanny state" if not an effort to substitute security for liberty?

As for my tone, I am reacting NOT to the several open-minded conservatives whom I have met, personally, but rather to the overall mean-spirited generalizations and liberal-bashing that I perceive on this blog.

I’ll admit that this blog is not immune from such things, but visit Kos, or Atrios, or the Democratic Underground. Heck, lately the last one has been ruminating about nuking Texas--on the grounds that only Bush supporters would be killed. It’s what happens in any environment where any political viewpoint becomes dominant--there is a tendency to assume that everyone "in the room," so to speak, is a Fellow Believer, so people use terms that they wouldn’t if they knew there were others in their midst. Yet another argument for more political diversity in academia....

Reply to John-

"isn’t it also true that liberals have their own nasty labels--racist, sexist, homophobic--that they’re more than happy to apply to those who disagree with them?"

Yes, it is, and my exchanges with you and others in this blog have helped me to try to transcend the trap that we all seem to fallen into.

’What is the liberal "nanny state" if not an effort to substitute security for liberty?’

I have to think about this one, as well. Here is a knee-jerk reaction: Both right- and left-wingers advocate nearly opposite "freedoms from" and "freedoms to." Opposite, and complementary, I think. For instance, pro-lifers want the government to limit the choice of women to have abortions, while other pro-lifers want the federal government to limit the freedom of states to engage in capital punishment. From the right, we have a desire to keep the government away from our gunracks, even for automatic weapons. From the left, keep the government out of our home-grown.

Another difference, I think, is that the "nanny state" is supported by liberals whose concern is for the chronically exploited; people who may not live long enough to enjoy the first few leftover droplets that "trickle down" due to deregulation that immediately benefits the rich, and the corporations. But, the right side wants protections, too. Protections from huge lawsuits, protections from flag-burners, protections from nasty married gay people, protections from filibusters, etc. These, it seems to me, are also desires for protection via laws and their enforcements.

Anyway, as many of you will understand, I have a mountain of papers to grade. I hope to continue this debate, and others, as well, and I also will try very hard to exercise my new perspective when I return.

Thanks!

Reply to Joe-

I hope you are right about Bush and the threat of terrorism. I really think not only that he has stirred up a nest of hornets, but that he has bred a whole new species of hornet, as well, with a long memory.

Still, to politicize this particular issue makes me most uncomfortable. I truly hope that you are right. I plan to sign off now, until I have graded, and administered whole lot of papers and exams.

Thanks to you, also, for the exchange, these past few days.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/5505