Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Nothing sinister about liberal campuses

Expand Messages
  • Ram Lau
    Nothing sinister about liberal campuses Steven Lubet Published December 1, 2004 Conservative activists are on the march, determined to expose hotbeds of
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 1, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      Nothing sinister about liberal campuses
      Steven Lubet

      Published December 1, 2004

      Conservative activists are on the march, determined to expose
      hotbeds of liberal influence wherever they find (or even suspect)
      them. Their latest target is higher education, one of the few
      corners of American life where liberal ideas still hold sway.

      Indeed several recent studies have confirmed that Democrats greatly
      outnumber Republicans -- by ratios as much as 7-1 -- on many
      university faculties. This revelation has caused outrage in
      conservative quarters, where it is seen as evidence of liberal
      manipulation, and worse.

      Leading the charge is David Horowitz, a former student leftist who
      is now president of the right-leaning Center for the Study of
      Popular Culture. According to Horowitz, there has been a "successful
      and pervasive blacklist ... of conservatives on American college
      campuses" that can only be rectified by the intervention of state
      legislatures and boards of trustees. He has called for enactment of
      an "Academic Bill of Rights" to protect the interests of
      conservative faculty and students.

      Other conservatives make similar claims. Thomas Reeves of the
      Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, for example, has insisted
      that "conservatives are discriminated against routinely and
      deliberately" in faculty hiring.

      These are odd arguments to hear from conservatives, since they
      usually deny that disproportionate statistics can be taken as proof
      of discrimination.

      When it comes to job discrimination or affirmative action,
      conservatives blithely insist that the absence of minorities (in a
      workforce or student body) simply means that there were too
      few "qualified applicants." And don't bother talking to them about
      a "glass ceiling" or "mommy track" that impedes women's careers.
      That's not discrimination, they say, it's "self-selection."

      Conservatives abandon these arguments, however, when it comes to
      their own prospects in academe. Then the relative scarcity of
      Republican professors is widely asserted as proof of willful
      prejudice.

      Of course, there are other possible explanations. Perhaps fewer
      conservatives than liberals are willing to endure the many years of
      poverty-stricken graduate study necessary to qualify for a faculty
      position. Perhaps conservatives are smarter than liberals, and
      recognize that graduate school is a poor investment, given the scant
      job opportunities that await newly minted PhDs. Or perhaps studious
      conservatives are more attracted to the greater financial rewards of
      industry and commerce.

      Beyond the ivy walls, many professions are dominated by Republicans.
      You'll find few Democrats (and still fewer outright liberals) among
      the ranks of high-level corporate executives, military officers or
      football coaches. Yet no one complains about these imbalances, and
      conservatives will no doubt explain that the seeming disparities are
      merely the result of market forces.

      And they are probably right.

      It is entirely rational for conservatives to flock to jobs that
      reward competition, aggression and victory at the expense of others.
      So it should not be surprising that liberals gravitate to
      professions -- such as academics, journalism, social work, and the
      arts -- that emphasize inquiry, objectivity and the free exchange of
      ideas.

      After all, teachers at all levels -- from nursery school to graduate
      school -- tend to be Democrats. Surely there cannot be a conspiracy
      to deny conservatives employment on kindergarten playgrounds.

      Alas, there have in fact been instances of political discrimination
      in academic hiring and promotion. And yes, conservatives, both
      faculty and students, have been snubbed or mistreated on
      overwhelmingly liberal campuses. More seriously, certain professors,
      and in some cases entire departments, have crossed the line from
      legitimate scholarship to overtly politicized advocacy, most
      frequently coming from the left. These situations should be
      vigorously addressed as individual cases, and remedied where
      necessary. But none of this is proof of systematic intimidation or
      blacklisting, as alleged by Horowitz and others.

      The reality is that universities, by their nature, tend to be
      liberal institutions (not only in the United States, but in many
      countries around the world).

      Conservatives may bemoan the social forces behind this phenomenon,
      but there is nothing sinister about it. Nonetheless, liberals (like
      me) should admit that faculties face a resulting risk of
      intellectual conformity, which can be stultifying and confining even
      when it is unintentional.

      Most major universities would likely benefit from the presence of
      more conservative scholars, who would sharpen the dialogue and
      challenge many assumptions. I might even be persuaded to support
      some form of recruiting outreach or affirmative action for
      Republicans -- but surely my conservative colleagues would never
      stand for it.

      Steven Lubet is a professor of law at Northwestern University.
    • greg
      Hmm. I m wondering whether colleges have a blacklist of conservatives, or if there s simply more liberals than conservatives who are trying to get jobs as
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 1, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        Hmm. I'm wondering whether colleges have a blacklist of conservatives,
        or if there's simply more liberals than conservatives who are trying
        to get jobs as professors. Though I can certainly imagine a university
        president interviewing possible professors and getting a conservative
        vibe off one candidate and thus not hiring that person (or, if it was
        Bob Jones or somewhere like that, getting a liberal vibe from them).
        --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Nothing sinister about liberal campuses
        > Steven Lubet
        >
        > Published December 1, 2004
        >
        > Conservative activists are on the march, determined to expose
        > hotbeds of liberal influence wherever they find (or even suspect)
        > them. Their latest target is higher education, one of the few
        > corners of American life where liberal ideas still hold sway.
        >
        > Indeed several recent studies have confirmed that Democrats greatly
        > outnumber Republicans -- by ratios as much as 7-1 -- on many
        > university faculties. This revelation has caused outrage in
        > conservative quarters, where it is seen as evidence of liberal
        > manipulation, and worse.
        >
        > Leading the charge is David Horowitz, a former student leftist who
        > is now president of the right-leaning Center for the Study of
        > Popular Culture. According to Horowitz, there has been a "successful
        > and pervasive blacklist ... of conservatives on American college
        > campuses" that can only be rectified by the intervention of state
        > legislatures and boards of trustees. He has called for enactment of
        > an "Academic Bill of Rights" to protect the interests of
        > conservative faculty and students.
        >
        > Other conservatives make similar claims. Thomas Reeves of the
        > Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, for example, has insisted
        > that "conservatives are discriminated against routinely and
        > deliberately" in faculty hiring.
        >
        > These are odd arguments to hear from conservatives, since they
        > usually deny that disproportionate statistics can be taken as proof
        > of discrimination.
        >
        > When it comes to job discrimination or affirmative action,
        > conservatives blithely insist that the absence of minorities (in a
        > workforce or student body) simply means that there were too
        > few "qualified applicants." And don't bother talking to them about
        > a "glass ceiling" or "mommy track" that impedes women's careers.
        > That's not discrimination, they say, it's "self-selection."
        >
        > Conservatives abandon these arguments, however, when it comes to
        > their own prospects in academe. Then the relative scarcity of
        > Republican professors is widely asserted as proof of willful
        > prejudice.
        >
        > Of course, there are other possible explanations. Perhaps fewer
        > conservatives than liberals are willing to endure the many years of
        > poverty-stricken graduate study necessary to qualify for a faculty
        > position. Perhaps conservatives are smarter than liberals, and
        > recognize that graduate school is a poor investment, given the scant
        > job opportunities that await newly minted PhDs. Or perhaps studious
        > conservatives are more attracted to the greater financial rewards of
        > industry and commerce.
        >
        > Beyond the ivy walls, many professions are dominated by Republicans.
        > You'll find few Democrats (and still fewer outright liberals) among
        > the ranks of high-level corporate executives, military officers or
        > football coaches. Yet no one complains about these imbalances, and
        > conservatives will no doubt explain that the seeming disparities are
        > merely the result of market forces.
        >
        > And they are probably right.
        >
        > It is entirely rational for conservatives to flock to jobs that
        > reward competition, aggression and victory at the expense of others.
        > So it should not be surprising that liberals gravitate to
        > professions -- such as academics, journalism, social work, and the
        > arts -- that emphasize inquiry, objectivity and the free exchange of
        > ideas.
        >
        > After all, teachers at all levels -- from nursery school to graduate
        > school -- tend to be Democrats. Surely there cannot be a conspiracy
        > to deny conservatives employment on kindergarten playgrounds.
        >
        > Alas, there have in fact been instances of political discrimination
        > in academic hiring and promotion. And yes, conservatives, both
        > faculty and students, have been snubbed or mistreated on
        > overwhelmingly liberal campuses. More seriously, certain professors,
        > and in some cases entire departments, have crossed the line from
        > legitimate scholarship to overtly politicized advocacy, most
        > frequently coming from the left. These situations should be
        > vigorously addressed as individual cases, and remedied where
        > necessary. But none of this is proof of systematic intimidation or
        > blacklisting, as alleged by Horowitz and others.
        >
        > The reality is that universities, by their nature, tend to be
        > liberal institutions (not only in the United States, but in many
        > countries around the world).
        >
        > Conservatives may bemoan the social forces behind this phenomenon,
        > but there is nothing sinister about it. Nonetheless, liberals (like
        > me) should admit that faculties face a resulting risk of
        > intellectual conformity, which can be stultifying and confining even
        > when it is unintentional.
        >
        > Most major universities would likely benefit from the presence of
        > more conservative scholars, who would sharpen the dialogue and
        > challenge many assumptions. I might even be persuaded to support
        > some form of recruiting outreach or affirmative action for
        > Republicans -- but surely my conservative colleagues would never
        > stand for it.
        >
        > Steven Lubet is a professor of law at Northwestern University.
      • Ram Lau
        Blacklisting conservatives? Vast left-wing conspiracy? =) Most likely not, I d say. I actually think what the professor said is true. A conservative authority
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 2, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          Blacklisting conservatives? Vast left-wing conspiracy? =)

          Most likely not, I'd say. I actually think what the professor said
          is true. A conservative authority in academia is in demand, but
          there just aren't that many. I guess it's harder to turn
          conservative after so many years of learning, regardless of the
          discipline.

          Ram
        • greg
          At my college it does seem like there are few conservative professors, and there are quite a few self-described liberal professors. We do have one economics
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 2, 2004
          • 0 Attachment
            At my college it does seem like there are few conservative professors,
            and there are quite a few self-described liberal professors. We do
            have one economics professor who worked in the Reagan White House, Tim
            Roth. I remember hearing that he's the faculty sponsor of the student
            Republican group. I would like to take a class with him, but as I've
            seen from the Introduction to Economics courses I've taken, I'm
            terrible at economics. Or terrible at all the math involved anyway.
            Roth's written a book (which I have no intention of buying or
            reading), "The Ethics and the Economics of Minimalist Government".
            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1840646764/qid%3D1034395085/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/002-9559599-6009632

            Amazon also has a book by two political science professors from my
            school who I know slightly, Irasema Coronado and Kathy Staudt. The
            book is "Frontera No Mas: Toward Social Justice at the U.S.-Mexico
            Border".
            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0312239394/qid=1084282924/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/002-9559599-6009632?v=glance&s=books&n=507846
            --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
            >
            > Blacklisting conservatives? Vast left-wing conspiracy? =)
            >
            > Most likely not, I'd say. I actually think what the professor said
            > is true. A conservative authority in academia is in demand, but
            > there just aren't that many. I guess it's harder to turn
            > conservative after so many years of learning, regardless of the
            > discipline.
            >
            > Ram
          • Ram Lau
            ... Greg, Economics is so much fun with or without the math. Forget about what that Roth guy wrote, start from reading the great dialogue between Keynes and
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 3, 2004
            • 0 Attachment
              > seen from the Introduction to Economics courses I've taken, I'm
              > terrible at economics. Or terrible at all the math involved anyway.
              > Roth's written a book (which I have no intention of buying or
              > reading), "The Ethics and the Economics of Minimalist Government".

              Greg,

              Economics is so much fun with or without the math. Forget about what
              that Roth guy wrote, start from reading the great dialogue between
              Keynes and von Hayek instead. Commanding Heights is a great book
              that describes what has been happening in the last century:

              http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/068483569X?v=glance

              PBS did a good job introducing the book:
              http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitext/tr_show01.h
              tml

              You gotta love the Homo Economicus. =)

              Ram
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.