Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Liberal Bias on College Campuses

MSNBC pundit Joe Scarborough posted this (scroll down to "Time is up for radical professors like Ward Churchill") in response to Colorado professor Ward Churchill's likening the victims of the 9/11 attacks to Eichmann.

Now, on the immediate issue, let me say that I disagree with Churchill. While a case can be made that all Americans are complicit in the immoral foreign policy decisions the US has made regarding the Muslim world in the same way that ordinary Germans were responsible for the crimes of the Third Reich. But Eichmann was not a passive citizen but one of the architects of the Holocaust, and therefore the analogy is not apt. For it to be apt, the 9/11 victims would have had to have been principles in forming and implementing the Middle East policies in question. They weren't. And, just as the Allies did not kill average Germans in response to the Holocaust*, it wasn't right for al-Qaeda to kill Americans indiscriminately in response to America's sometimes oppressive foreign policy.

But I don't think Churchill should be fired for his views either. If we try to impose intellectual orthodoxy on the faculties of state colleges and universities, the quality of professors and education at those institutions will drop. Churchill's ideas my be offensive, but by allowing him to say them, we learn something about ourselves.

On Scarborough's bitching about the issue of liberal bias and slant on college campuses, however, Scarborough needs to shut the hell up. He's assuming that the reason that the majority of college professors in the US are liberal is some vast, left-wing conspiracy to keep conservatives out. Well, until and unless Scarborough and his cronies come up with some evidence to the contrary, Occam's Razor suggests a simpler explanation: Academia is not an upwardly mobile career field in the US, and so conservatives, whose political ideologies greatly revolve around the means and ability of people to amass wealth, self-select themselves out of the profession. They choose to do something else.

Like, oh, say, Joe freakin' Scarborough! If he's really so concerned about the lack of conservatives in academia, he and his pundit friends can do something about it. They, themselves, can enter the ranks of the academics. But they won't, because they've already got a better gig. Well, guess what, Joe? So do all the rest of the conservatives.

Show me the vast ranks of conservatives who desperately want to spend years getting a doctorate so that they can be paid poorly, subjected to academia's "publish or perish" tenure paradigm, fight tooth-and-nail for increasingly dwindling grant money, and deal with the incessant politics that pervade the modern American campus, but are being shut out. Show me all the conservatives that have been turned away from the ivy-covered halls of our institutions of higher learning. Then, and only then, can you complain, Scarborough.

Until then, shut the hell up about it. It's not the job of liberals to make conservatives become professors. You conservatives are responsible for that.

*Well, other than the firebombing of Dresden and other German cities.


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