Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More on higher ed bias

This story contains more information on and reactions to the report Mickey discussed here and that Ken Masugi discussed here.

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, it’s entirely consistent with the principles of Enlightenment liberalism. On the other hand, there’s 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., it’s unfair to demand profundity of someone giving a blurb to a reporter, but let’s at least be honest and admit that "civic values" as "taught" in the academy aren’t quite the same as those celebrated in Fourth of July orations.

Discussions - 11 Comments

Eh, she’s just blowing smoke, which is a good sign. All this "sunshine" has the liberal academic establishment worried. Those who say that this establishment is monolithic and beyond repair should note that, in every case, academics is a surplus activity...it is funded by private individuals and taxpayers. The academy knows that it really can’t afford to be perceived as out-of-touch and hostile to American society (which it is, I’m afraid).

I am happy to see that my friends on the right have beome (albeit unwittingly) champions of gender equality. The study referred to here showed that, while Democrats comprised 50% (why, that’s nearly half!) of the faculty surveyed, over 70% were males, which leaves less than 30% for the female faculty.

This is a problem, since numerical overrepresentation leads logically to the conclusion that students are being indoctrinated. That is how the logic goes regarding liberals, right? Since there are more of us, then that means we are indoctrinating students, who bring their squeaky clean blank slates to school, and leave burdened with our horrendous tolerance for homosexuals and our deviant concern for the environment and the underclass.

And now, with this new study, we find that the real problem is men! Over 70% of faculty are men! And that means that we must be using our power and influence to turn our unsuspecting students into men. Darn us! Can no one stop us? Will there finally be an investigation into the clever tricks that we employ to screen out women from the academy?

Now that I think of it, I overheard a student say that it was implied by her professor that if she had only been a man, then she would have received a better grade on her male studies final exam. This incident proves to me that there is, indeed, a widespread effort to keep women out of higher education. I am thankful for my right-leaning friends for finally bringing this conspiracy to light, and for demanding action.

Here is another thing that has me upset. There for a while, I was pretty happy that the repealing of Affirmative Action in certain states (like Texas, for instance) was effectively keeping minorities out of the better schools, the "top tier" schools that are mentioned in this article. Sure, the state schools, and the crappy schools were filling up with minority students, but I was pretty confident that the top tier was going to return to the white elite. Now, I find that those white elite students are likely to be taught by nonreligious male liberals! The conservative, religious females have all had to be content with the lower-tier schools, and they are denied access to the rich white kids who really need and deserve them.

Bummer.

Well, Fung, I realize that sarcasm has become the last defense of the Left, but surely you can do better than this pathetic effort? Believe me, women are catching up, but only in humanities, social sciences, and education. Hmm...I wonder why it’s only males in physical sciences that are so bigoted? Or maybe Summers is right?

Tell you what...we conservatives will stop complaining the day that gender, skin color, and liberal politics stop being the religion of the academic Left.

Thank you, Dain. So, you and your friends support Summers, not only his right to speak, but also his message? And, I expect that you have a good reason why that support should not be extended to Ward Churchill. Have I got that correctly, so far?

And, according to Summers, it is the ability of women as a group that keeps them out of the sciences, but it is the "system" that is keeping the conservatives out of academia. Am I still with you?

And finally, you and your friends will have nothing to complain about as soon as liberals embrace "real" religion (do you have a favorite, just to help us out?) and stop worrying about those pesky equality issues. Is that right? I want to be clear, because now that you are aware of my secret sarcasm weapon, I think I’ll try something else, like encouraging you to share your thinking with the rest of us. I think you are a better spokesperson for the left than I am.

Well, Fung, you are quite the smart aleck, aren’t you. Two can play that game. According to your logic, women and minorities are underrepresented because of the vile bigotry of white academic males (who are otherwise noted for their liberalism!), while the underrepresentation of conservatives is due to stupidity. Yes? Of course, these are the same conservatives who are suppose to be 1) wealthier than their long-suffering Leftist brethren, and 2) crafty to the point of global neocon conspiracies. Which is it? Are we geniuses or idiots? I would also note the millions of dollars that have been spent of affirmative action and programs like "women in engineering," the National Science Foundation grants restricted to women ONLY, and the "diversity" requirements of most academic hiring. We see NOTHING like that for conservatives, do we?

In short, there’s a lot more evidence to suppose that women and minorities have some quite natural (or market-based) disadvantages in academics...quite apparent from any bogus discrimination you could point to. On the other hand, evidence of discrimination against conservatives is ubiquitous.

And, for the record, smartass, I’m an evolutionist. The old "religious fanatic" rap slides right off me.

Dain, Dain, Dain! You sound so angry! P>I’m sorry, I did not realize that I was dealing with another cutting-edge progressive. An evolutionist! I’m a heliocentrist, myself. Later today, I plan to read about that wacky new theory of relativity, and then I am going to picket for abolition and child labor laws.

As an evolutionist, I expect that you are aware that women and minorities are, for the most part, born into those groups. I suspect, for instance, that you were born a male, and that your gender was not a choice that you made. Nor, I suspect, was your ethnicity.

Now, Conservativism and Liberalism are different, Dain. People can choose to be one or the other, and they can also adopt positions that fall along a continuum (say it eith me: con-tin-you-um. It has as many syllables as ubiquitous does.)They can also change as they grow, from one side to the other, and they can also formulate complex political stances that are not easily identified and labeled.

So, we tend not to have social programs for conservatives because they were NOT born into groups that have a history of discrimination and exclusion.

As for who is smart, I truly wonder. First of all, it is you and your friends who have suggested that academia is ruled by a Liberal elite, not me. So, if there IS evidence of discrimination against women and minorities in academia, then it is you who point the finger at liberals, not me. I have maintained elsewhere that this liberal conspiracy must be clever indeed to operate under the supervision of conservative boards, legislators, parents, taxpayers, and administrators. How did your boy Larry Summers, for instance, rise to his position at Harvard? Did he "pass" as a liberal until he attained the Presidency, then throw off the cloak and declare himself? And there IS evidence of discrimination against women and minorities, so many liberals DO support Affirmative action, and policies that try, somehow to reverse centuries-old patterns of discrimination.

So, who is smart, and who is not? Certainly it is smart to protect one’s wealth, whether it was inherited, or earned, or stolen. So, to the extent that the wealthy have discovered and exploited ways to protect and expand their wealth while more and more middle-class and poor lose their jobs, their security, their health care, and their family integrity, then to that extent, those few wealthy appear to be quite smart. But, how about the average person in the "Red" states who supports these fat cats, while reaping the same benefits that my family has: none!

At this point, Dain, I am being absolutely serious. I truly believe that any American who inhabits the middle or lower classes and also supports the Republican agenda, has been successfully fooled by a number of classic tricks, including scapegoating (Liberals, academics, minorities are to blame for the state we are in), fear (random elevations of the terror threat, tales of mass destruction, images of Bin Laden)and ignorance (we are not allowed, even in the "Liberal media!" to see images of war, or of caskets returning from Iraq) meanwhile, anyone who questions the reasons for the war, or the wisdom or morality of it is instantly branded "unpatriotic."

Our economy is in a mess, our debt increases exponentially every time we fill up a gas tank, our education system in in the tank, our business infrastructure is fleeing to countries with whom we shouldn’t even be communicating, our health care gets more and more expensive, and less and less available and reliable. The single wage-earner, two-parent family is a pleasant myth unless you reside in the true elite, which is not liberal, and not academic. Our enemies grow in numbers and in the intensity of their hatred, and our friends grow fewer in number, and in their suspicion and contempt of our international behavior.

So, who benefits when the fat cats send people like you down a rabbit hole after the nasty, organized liberal academics?

Every cult leader knows these tricks. Imagine the glory of David Koresh when the tanks and guns actually DID show up aoutside the compound in Waco! This was exactly what he had been telling his followers: They want you dead, and only I can save you. This is what Jim Jones told his followers, and what every dictator and nationalist and Fascist leader has successfully sold to the masses in order to obtain energetic, blind obedience to a lie.

So, go ahead, Dain. You worry about the liberal academics while your buddies gather in their chips, throw you a bone, and the roof comes down in flames. In the end, it will be you and me searching the ruins, while your friends are expoiting a whole new Third world of workers hungry for a buck. What lies will they be clutching at, I wonder, and who will be telling them?

I could also be wrong, Dain. You could be one of the fat cats, I suppose, and if so, you can chuckle and count your money, knowing that I am too busy blogging with my right-wing friends, and scurrying to make a dollar to cause you any harm.

Fung, good...I’m glad to bring out your serious side. Snide remarks just don’t become you.

I’d say you need to learn some social science. Did you know that women made up at least 25% of the faculy in U.S. higher education PRIOR to WWII? Did you know that there aren’t enough African-American Ph.D.’s to even begin to fill these quotas at universities around the country (which is why many colleges have substituted African- and West Indian-born candidates instead)? The same bottleneck is true for women - the lion’s share of female Ph.D.’s are in social science, humanities and education. Since those fields are coming to be dominanted by women, the current gender composition at U.S. universities won’t be changing radically in the near future...and it has absolutely nothing to do with discrimination (although discrimination against white males is a documentable problem). These things are a matter of record, and you and your buddies on the Left choose to ignore them.

We also outlaw religious discrimination, and favor veteran’s status, and these aren’t ascribed characteristics (i.e., you aren’t born into them). Your argument is inconsistent.

As for the whole "elites sucking the masses dry" B.S., Karl Marx was dead wrong, my friend. If you look around the world today it is precisely those countries that have embraced capitalism that have prospered...and I mean their people, not just the upper classes. In this country, I defy you to point to any OBJECTIVE measure that would suggest a decay of the middle class. As for fat cats, who are they, exactly? You make it sound like four or five guys in some back room, but the upper class is quite large.

On the flipside, I’d like you to demonstrate any society where radical leveling in terms of social class ever worked (without causing mass misery). Fung, just because our society has some injustice doesn’t mean that we need a complete retooling. All societies at all times in history had some injustice, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease (e.g., the French Revolution, Cambodia).

The current inertia in the Democratic Party should tell you something. They are out of ideas, and they don’t even believe their own nonsense anymore.

Hi Dain- I am really not sure how to interpret your intentions regarding your statistics. 25% women prior to WWII. Are you suggesting that that was a lot for such an early time? Or, that we have had an imbalance for a long time? Either way, I am not sure how to see your stats as an argument against my statement that there is evidence of discrimination against women and ethnic minorities.

Along the same line, I should make my previous statement more clear than I did: I was not suggesting that today’s numbers reflect discrimination only in academic circles, though I am not discounting that. Discrimination against women and (especially) African Americans occurs and has occurred throughout society, and that discrimination is why there are so few African American Ph.D.s for many colleges to hire. When you look at the figures: twice as many Blacks as whites are likely to be imprisoned after an arrest. Twice as many Blacks as Whites are likely to be arrested. The overall equality index for Blacks is about 75% that for Whites. Women and men in the same jobs bring home different salaries. Both women and African Americans could have been considered the property of a White male in my grandfather’s lifetime!

So, again, I am not clear about your intentions, but I hope that you are not suggesting anything like a level playing field for women and ethnic minorities.

As for Marx, I am not suggesting that we revert to a Marxist model. Instead, I would like capitalism to stay in its place: the market! Growth for the sake of growth is the business of the cancer cell (that is not mine, but I cannot remember who said it). I suppose that capitalism is the best economic system there is, but (a) that does not make it perfect, and (b) it does not make it a good model for other systems, such as the family, and education, and higher education.

Recently, my community has been tinkering with Charter Schools, and parents and students are finding that this experiment in educational competition isn’t so great. It means, among other things, that someone has to lose, and the Charter School closing is not the same as a restaurant, or Kwik Copy going out of business. Ideas are not money, and students are not customers, and learning is not a gimmick. Every question on earth cannot be answered with competition and management by objectives.

The same is true of higher ed, and of families, and of spirituality and religion, and social welfare. There are places where the corporate model does not fit, and where the bottom line is not the most important line.

Our society is more than a place for businesses to grow, just as a body is more than a place for an organ to grow. Systems must cooperate with each other, according to mutual needs and complementary characteristics.

So, when you tell me that we don’t need to retool the entire society, I agree with you! Leave Social Security alone, leave the Alaskan Wilderness alone, leave our civil liberties alone. Leave Terri alone, and the separation between church and state, the tenure system. I can’t believe I am saying this, but: "Get government off our backs!" Or, better yet, get a government that has some interests other than corporate greed and military solutions, and then I will be more welcoming.

Fung, I like this serious side to you so much better. The statistics on women suggest that their hasn’t been any serious discriminiation against women. If there had been, we’d have expected far fewer women in the academy two generations ago, but that is not the case. Indeed, I would argue that higher education has been remarkably open to women and minorities throughout this century.

As for the number of African-American Ph.D.’s, there is no evidence that discrimination accounts for lackluster academic performance. Hundreds of social scientists have tried to explain the achievement gap, and indeed they’ve whittled away at it, but still a good portion of it remains. Whatever the reason, I don’t think overt discrimination is the explanation for the dearth of African-American Ph.D.s. Regardless, affirmative action in HIGHER education can’t make up for whatever is causes this.

Finally, I’m not a libertarian, so I don’t worship capitalism. Nonetheless, a market-based economy is a complex system, and none of us has the wisdom or know-how to fine-tune it to our liking. We can try to manage it in very broad terms, but who decides what sectors grow? Who decides who gets paid what? Who decides who owns what? These are questions that defy even the most well-meaning bureaucracy. Read Hayek’s "Road to Serfdom."

Alright Dain,

Somehow, I feel that I am not doing my job if you aren’t getting angry. I am now swamped with papers, and need to grade them, along with a bunch of exams.

I want you to know that I’m not giving up, I just need to direct my energy at getting through the rest of this semester. I wish that your conspiracy theory was true-- then I could just organize the work according to the conservativism of the students!

I look forward to arguing with you, later. Please don’t feel too smug about my recent seriousness. Your outrageous statements elicited my sarcasm and ridicule in the first place! But for now, I’ll yield the floor to you, out of sheer fatigue.

I completely understand. We will undoubtedly catch one another on another thread in the future. Good luck with your grading.

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