Letter to the Editor: In pursuit of intellectual diversity

October 28, 2015 by Wayne Lela

To the Editor:

The controversy involving Suzanne Venker brought to mind a relatively old (1991) quote from a well-known liberal attorney, author and professor named Alan Dershowicz, who was so disturbed by the lack of respect for free speech in certain liberal circles that he is on record as saying: “Political correctness is the most serious issue on college campuses. We are tolerating, and teaching, intolerance and hypocrisy.”

Things hadn’t changed much by 2005. Indeed, the intolerance of the ever-so-trendy “politically correct” mob just seemed to have gotten worse (power may have gone to their heads). The atmosphere motivated a libertarian syndicated columnist named Nat Hentoff to pen a piece titled, “College no place for closed minds.” Some of the points he made include: 1) Even some mainstream educational groups (which he lists) expressed concern about the widespread intolerance and hostility on many college campuses towards conservative speakers, ideas and values; 2) Liberal college professors outnumbered conservative professors by a five-to-one ratio; 3) In some classrooms on various college campuses “conservative students are intimidated into silence, ignored or occasionally ridiculed” by narrow-minded liberals and 4) “Indoctrination – instead of free inquiry – … characterizes much of higher education.”

According to an article in Washington Monthly magazine, “62.2 percent of professors self-identify as liberal, compared to 19.7 as conservative … 9.4 percent of faculty members say they’re ‘extremely liberal.’”

And according to an article in The New York Times: “It’s certainly true that professors are a liberal lot …[A]bout half of the professors identified as liberal, as compared to just one in five Americans overall … [Among academic] social scientists, for example, there were 10 Democrats for every Republican …There’s no doubt that in terms of overall curricular content and campus culture, most colleges and universities do skew more to the left than to the right.”

Close-minded, intolerant, ignorant liberal bigots who believe it’s okay to discriminate against conservatives and “politically incorrect” speech exist, and many of them are unfortunately found on college campuses, where they are using their influence to try to inculcate their questionable values in others. Hopefully students are aware of all the one-sided, liberal propaganda they are manipulatively being exposed to. But I fear they are not.

It would be nice to see students pushing for intellectual diversity on their campuses, and maybe even affirmative action for hiring a true minority on college campuses: conservative teachers. Until that happens, liberal college professors and liberal students will feel free to continue to try to take advantage of others. That needs to change.

Wayne Lela

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John C. Drew, Ph.D. October 28, 2015 at 2:39 am

I think there is growing interest in promoting intellectual diversity at elite schools. The folks at The College Fix just published an interview they did with me this week regarding what it was like to be a token conservative at Williams in the late 1980s. Here’s the link: http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/24821/

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Man with the Axe October 29, 2015 at 10:36 am

Your essay reminds me of a statement made by the chairman of the Duke University philosophy department about ten years ago. When asked why 100% of the faculty in the department were liberal Democrats, he suggested without irony that this is because conservatives are not smart enough to be philosophy professors at Duke.

It did not occur to him that his faculty would not consider for one minute hiring a faculty member who did not share their own views. This phenomenon is all to familiar to any conservative who is on a faculty and wants to receive tenure. He had better keep his views to himself.

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