Just One Minute
Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Friday, August 22, 2003



Campus Diversity

The Cal Pundit tackles campus diversity:

CONSERVATIVES IN THE ACADEMY

...What I'm interested in is whether it's really true that there are cases of conservatives/Republicans who have been denied tenure solely because they are conservatives/Republicans.


Here is the case of Jim Miller of Smith College, denied tenure in part because of an article he wrote for NRO decrying political correctness on America's campuses. (More here, short reg. req'd.).

Well, there is an example for Kevin. Can we go home now?

Not so fast. Kevin linked to the pseudonymous John Lemon, who explained his need for a secret identity thusly:

With a secret identity, I can parade around in tights and a really cool cape while battling evildoers, especially lefty ones.

NO, he didn't say that; however, John Lemon is a "Scrappleface" fan, so I thought I would join the fun.

What he did say was:

I was once warned that no Republican would ever get tenure in this department -- I assume that can be generalized to all sorts of other unpleasantries.

Hence, Kevin's question.

Well, there may be two ideas running together here - do faculties discriminate against conservative academics, and do they discriminate against academics who are also conservative?

If a group of marxist economics honestly don't take seriously the work of a free-marketeer, well, that may not be discrimination - it may simply be disagreement. Or, if a group of deconstructionists in the English Department simply can't see the point of hiring some expert in dead white European authors, well, its their department, and if they want to run it into the ground, good for them. There is a technical term for that sort of behavior, which is "Duke". No, not John Wayne! The University. The Duke was not a deconstructionist! My goodness. Anyway, my buddy Emma takes this tack - it's not discrimination, conservatives are just wrong. Thanks for clearing that up!

So, fine, conservative academics may have a bit of a rum go, depending on the department. But John Lemon is complaining about discrimination against academics who are also conservative. By this I mean, the actual job performance, i.e., the teaching and publishing, does not have an unavoidable poltical tilt (I infer, or how is he publishing?). And the discrimination would be of the form, "love your paper, your students rave about you, but I saw a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker on your car, I heard you say you want us to drill in ANWR, good-bye".

If discrimination of this type is happening, that would be bad. OTOH, as some of Kevin's commenters helpfully explain, conservatives are basically greedy and annoying anyway (also stupid), so what's the problem?

The point is this - many of the same folks who are sure that there is no anti-conservative tilt in our universities routinely decry the vast right wing conspiracy ("VRWC"), in which think tanks play a major role.

TAP has a fascinating history of the VRWC, from which we take this excerpt:

When William Simon, U.S. treasury secretary under Presidents Nixon and Ford, took over one of the four sisters, the John M. Olin Foundation, he was appalled at corporate giving patterns and took the lead in organizing corporate allies. Simon urged business to "cease the mindless subsidizing of colleges and universities whose departments of economy, government, politics, and history are hostile to capitalism" and to move funds from "the media which serve as megaphones for anti-capitalist opinion" to more "pro-freedom" and "pro-business" media. While there are no available statistics for corporate support of conservative media, the Alliance for Justice reports that corporation funding still provides the core of support for conservative public interest law firms.

Preception drives reality.

And we have a bit from the PFAW on how the conservative foundations attempt to level the academic playing field:

Olin fellowships are an academic haven for academics who support Reaganite economic and social policies. According to the Nation, the foundation's 1988 annual report shows that $55 million in grants were distributed, primarily to underwrite university programs "intended to strengthen the economic, political and cultural institutions upon which...private enterprise is based."

...One of Olin's chief program areas is "Law and Economics," an interest of the foundation for almost 30 years. Under this program, the foundation first established a seat at the University of Chicago in the 1960s for the purpose of teaching "free market economics" as it applies to law.[155] According to an Alliance for Justice report, the Chicago School emphasizes "'economic efficiency' and 'wealth maximization' as the conceptual cornerstones" for judicial opinions.

...Subsequently, the foundation has funded a number of conservative "Law and Economics" programs at a number of otherwise mainstream institutions of distinction, as well as conservative history, business, and political science programs.


Now, obviously any proper lefty deplores this. However, would this have been happening if conservatives felt that the normal channels of advancement were open at our nation's universities? According to TAP, this took off in the 60's and 70's - was there a certain anti-war, anti-Nixon, anti-Republican tilt on campuses back then? Was there an anti-Reagan tilt in the 80's? Am I seriously asking this?

OK, put differently, did conservatives only become sinister and sly in the 70's? Why weren't corporations funding these right wing think tanks and right wing university programs in the 30's, or the 50's? Surely big business wanted to exploit the little guy back then.
Comments: Post a Comment

Home