Tuesday, May 10, 2016

 

Conservatives and the Academy

There was a fascinating piece in the NY Times last weekend by Nicholas Kristof titled "A Confession of Liberal Intolerance." There, Kristof discusses the bare fact that those who talk about "diversity" rarely mean diversity of political viewpoint, and the lack of conservatives in some part of the academy.

I am fortunate to work at a place that quite intentionally has that kind of diversity. I have written before about how that is good for our students and for me.  Especially in law, we need to expose our students to different viewpoints given that our field is so directly linked to politics.

Yet, I don't think that the failure to seek out political diversity is a reason to give up on other forms of diversity. Being black is not the same as being liberal; that experience includes things (such as being the object of discrimination) that whites-- liberal or conservative-- do not experience in the same way.  Rather, they are two separate and worthwhile types of diversity, that should be sought within the academy both within the faculty and the student body.

Comments:
Good for you, Mark.

I especially liked this passage from Kristof:

“I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a conservative professor is quoted as saying in “Passing on the Right,” a new book about right-wing faculty members by Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. That’s a metaphor that conservative scholars often use, with talk of remaining in the closet early in one’s career and then “coming out” after receiving tenure.

Probably a good equivalency. You are right, Mark, to point out that being conservative in an institution of higher education (or, "higher indoctrination," as some of my out-of-the-closet conservative colleagues like to say) is not equivalent to being black during the Jim Crow era.

I also loved this quote from the great Thomas Sowell (who was writing today about the dis-invitation of Jason Riley):

"As a young Marxist in college during the 1950s heyday of the anti-Communist crusade led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, I had more freedom to express my views in class, without fear of retaliation, than conservative students have on many campuses today."
 
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