Amidst the usual talking head affirmations and denials, this one stands out:
[Rosemary G.]Feal, the MLA executive director, said that when humanities professors say that they are liberals, “the majority of us understand it to be not a narrow political ideology, but a conception of the world.”
“We profess the liberal arts,” she said. “That comes from freedom that we hold as a high value, from the pursuit of the truth, the pursuit of academic freedom, the belief that the learning and teaching of values will make us better citizens.”
On the one hand, its entirely consistent with the principles of Enlightenment liberalism. On the other hand, theres the invocation of values, a term that has a Nietzschean/Weberian provenance, i.e., one at odds with Enlightenment liberalism. Of course, despite (or perhaps because of) its subjectivism, the language of values has become so ubiquitous as to have been drained of any real substance. The "take-away" is this: we pursue truth and we teach civic values. Which civic values? Those that make us better American citizens or better "citizens of the world"? Are those two forms of "citizenship" ever at odds with one another? Might the pursuit of the truth ever be at odds with one or both of them? O.K., its unfair to demand profundity of someone giving a blurb to a reporter, but lets at least be honest and admit that "civic values" as "taught" in the academy arent quite the same as those celebrated in Fourth of July orations.