He "magisterially" dismisses evidence of left-wing bias on college campuses (the studies are flawed; faculty Democrats arent really leftists; what about disciplines like business and engineering; the return rate on questionnaires wasnt very high; and so on). He also repeats the tired arguments that conservatives are anti-intellectual and would rather make money than teach English, despite the fact that there are no even flawed studies that demonstrate this. Perhaps common sense tells him so. Well, common sense (backed up by numerous studies of varied quality) tells me that there isnt much intellectual diversity on many high-prestige campuses and that even smart conservatives are sometimes either denied tenure or not offered jobs there.
His best line (a pretty good one) is this:
If life were a big game of Monopoly, one might suggest a trade to these conservatives: You give us one Pentagon, one Department of State, Justice and Education, plus throw in the Supreme Court, and we will give you every damned English department you want.
He thinks professors should be subversive, challenging their students. And he thinks that the various movements inspired by David Horowitz, about which Ive posted before, most recently
here, will make college campuses blander places.
I dont want bland; I want lively. But I dont equate liveliness exclusively with leftism or liberalism. Peter Schramm is lively; Allan Bloom was lively; Im (kinda) lively, even though I was once described by a president of my university (not the current occupant of that office) as "to the right of Attilla the Hun" (a bad line that Jacoby also uses), if not necessarily of Schramm the Hungarian (a bad line that only I use).
Jacoby assimilates the activities of liberal and leftist professors to a tradition that goes back to Socrates. Well, Socrates was eager to have all sorts of interlocutors. And while he questioned authority, he also cared about the truths that could be found in old books. Socrates is no conventional conservative, but he would also be a questioner of liberal pieties. And he famously didnt spawn or support any political party, though he did leave his unphilosophical sons to be educated by Athens. And Ill leave you, dear readers, to chew over the import o that final observation.