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Conservatives rare species on campus
October 21, 2002 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Conservatives rare species on campus "A poll by the Enterprise Institute showed that professors registered as Democrats outnumbered Republicans at Stanford, 151 to 17. At Berkeley, the lopsided score was 59-7. At Cornell, 166-6. And so on." When I was in college, I guess I was too busy trying to earn my degree to notice if conservatives were allowed to exist or not. I don't remember much political indoctrination in my physics or differential equations classes. Are the campuses really like what this columnist suggests?
posted by munger (148 comments total)

 
Don't want to snark, but this topic already got some discussion recently here.
posted by gsteff at 10:55 PM on October 21, 2002


"How, in particular, does an institution that publicly promotes itself as "liberal" and "inclusive," as dedicated to "diversity" and the "free exchange of ideas," devolve into such a political monolith?"

David Horowitz's The Missing Diversity on America's Campuses provides examples from personal experience.

Rory Miller weigs in with: UC Berkeley: A Safe Harbor For Hate


Yep, things are as bad as they seem.
posted by hama7 at 10:58 PM on October 21, 2002


Seems all right to me, hama7. None of my professors has ever tried to preach to me politically; on the contrary, they've been overtly "liberal" only in the liberality of their tolerance to all viewpoints, right or left of center.
posted by Hildago at 11:04 PM on October 21, 2002


To rephrase: it's a fallacy to say there's a problem only because a majority of campus faculty are liberal. In order to bitch about it, you must first prove that that disproportionality affects the quality of education, which this article doesn't even begin to back up.
posted by Hildago at 11:06 PM on October 21, 2002


In addition, most investment bankers are Republicans, and the local office of social workers reports that, like universities, their ranks are mostly filled with Democrats.

Reporters were also shocked to discover that the staff of the think tank "Enterprise Institute" had a large number of Republicans, as well.

In all seriousness, university life does not breed for a conservative Republican ideology, based on the lifestyle. First, you spend your 20s in poverty as you go through graduate school and any post-doctoral fellowships, but not for the payoff of making a very high salary by the end of the process. Needless to say, the prospect of a tax break from a candidate isn't going to get your blood pumping. While you're in grad school, you live your life in submission to an advisor who controls your entire destiny-- and these grad students might not find their advisor any more qualified or deserving of his position than the student himself. This does not breed any particular respect for authority. Next, research money is publicly funded from the federal government-- like DARPA, NIH, NSF, etc. While these departments make up a tiny overall part of the federal budget, demands to "shrink government" from a professor would be akin to saying, "cut off my funding." Finally, the university environment is one that surrounds a professor with young people-- junior faculty, post-docs, grad students, and undergrads who are producing hot ideas. The "cult of youth" here might also mitigate against "the Republican lifestyle." In fact, the "older" members of the faculty are the ones most like to hold a Deanship or administrative position of authority over the faculty, which isn't held in as high esteem as the research positions, thus creating more resentment against authority figures.

At the same time, from papers I've read in economics, at least at my university, there is a fair amount of neo-liberal economists. This doesn't surprise me, either, as I would assume that those interested in economics would be of a more conservative pedigree than those interested in, say, women's studies.

Any cranky op-eds about the party membership of the Federal Reserve to come next?
posted by deanc at 11:07 PM on October 21, 2002


You're lucky Hildago. This was a few years ago, but I remember a freshman required course I had to take which was basically an indoctrination course in socialism and multiculturalism. Two of the speakers that year were Abbie Hoffman and (pre-Nobel Peace Prize) Rigoberta Menchu.

After one year, I transferred.
posted by hama7 at 11:09 PM on October 21, 2002


So does this mean there are only 66 professors at UC-Berkeley? If not, how did they choose the 66 to poll?
posted by Daze at 11:09 PM on October 21, 2002


Well, it seems pretty clear to me. If you're smart enough to be in college, you're too smart to be a conservative.
posted by Optamystic at 11:09 PM on October 21, 2002


How does the saying go? "If you are young and conservative you have no soul; If you are old and liberal you have no mind."
posted by gazingus at 11:11 PM on October 21, 2002


In order to bitch about it, you must first prove that that disproportionality affects the quality of education, which this article doesn't even begin to back up.

One might article that the disproportionality itself affects the quality of education.
posted by hama7 at 11:11 PM on October 21, 2002


"article" ="argue". Sheesh See what all that leftism did to me?
posted by hama7 at 11:13 PM on October 21, 2002


The linked article mentions the UC Berkeley panel on Iraq, which was only four professors from the university speaking about it, and since it happened, I've heard it mentioned far and wide how it represents the whole of UC Berkeley, and by extension all of academia.

Four nuts from Cal do not represent all professors, nor should they be extrapolated out to support some sort of supposed nationwide trend. I've seen several articles getting mileage from this, as well as lots of weblogs pointing at it. This article looks like another "hey, look at what the wacky people at that hippy university are doing now!" article that gets lots of play in any state besides California.

Also, I can't find the Enterprise Institute online, anyone got a URL for them? I'd like to see the results of their survey and the details of how they gathered the data.
posted by mathowie at 11:13 PM on October 21, 2002


deanc already did the smart, relevant, convincing commentary (great job, by the way), so I'll just move straight along to the mudslinging.

College professors and their students must be liberal because they're well educated enough to recognize this kind of statistic-twisting propaganda for the bullshit that it is. I've never read a piece on the horrors of liberal academia that wasn't a load of nonsense designed to bias the vulnerably uneducated against institutes of higher learning.

Wait, here's some semi-intelligent commentary anyway: perhaps the reason that college professors "invoked tolerance and diversity as antidotes to evil" was that they were, let's see, Islamic studies professors? Or perhaps they specialized in international relations. Or hell, maybe they were just lit professors who really enjoyed reading the Koran as undergrads. Regardless, many of these people have devoted their lives to trying to understand the society that we're supposedly "at war" with, unlike most people in America. They see the value in these cultures, and they see attempts to pit us against them as broadening a divide that they want to repair. They've been trained for decades to understand other systems of thought as best they can -- and guys like Peter Bronson want to villainize them for that. Well, it makes me fucking sick.

Enough of this. I'm going to go read some fucking Kierkegaard now and get on with bettering myself while the close-minded anti-intellectuals of the world complain about it. I don't give a shit anymore.
posted by tweebiscuit at 11:26 PM on October 21, 2002


I figure, so long as the political leanings of any particular professors are widely known to those in a class taught by him/her where politics might play a factor in the curriculum, any persuasive effect is ameliorated by the students critical filtering of the professor's ideas as presented.

College is a glorious time of bong-hit philosophy, cat-killing curiousity and outright knuckleheadedness in search of one's intellectual place in the world. Do the apes care whether the keepers are union? No, and it affects them not a bit. Students know what to expect from Berkeley, as much as they know what to expect at Harvard Business or Oral Roberts U. Armed with that foreknowledge, the responsibility for one's own thought falls back firmly in the court of the thinker, regardless of environment.
posted by UncleFes at 11:27 PM on October 21, 2002


Sorry for posting something that was discussed a month ago. When I searched MetaFilter, I only searched on "Enterprise Institute" to see if the survey mentioned in the article was already discussed. From my MeFi search, I noticed Enterprise Institute was mentioned many times. I'm not positive, but I think this is their URL: http://www.aei.org
posted by munger at 11:30 PM on October 21, 2002


Yep, that's the URL, and the article, "The Shame of America's One-Party Campuses by Karl Zinsmeister" came out in the September issue of The American Enterprise Magazine. I can't find the text of the article online, so I assume it was print only.
posted by mikhail at 11:59 PM on October 21, 2002


I feel the fact that younger people tend to be more ideal has a great deal to do with it as well. The injustices stand out more to them and the passion to right them are stronger. Where as you become older for many compromise and alliances of convenience become a way of life, especially in the corporate world. Now do not get me wrong here, I am not capitalism basher, but going back to school and coming from that world, it is an amazing difference.

But lets be honest, cronyism exists in all systems, people usually hire people they agree with and will see things there way, very very few people are confident enough in themselves to hire someone who may challenge their world views, especially to important positions.

People are not honest with themselves, many people really believe they promote diversity and so on. I have seen it over and over again, people doing what they feel is the right thing but in reality where just snuffing out challenges to their orthodoxy. It is easier to end up like this than many believe.
posted by GreenDragon at 12:09 AM on October 22, 2002


i think what we can all take from this is that no one really knows everything about anything. in fact, what i just said was both completely right and an absolute falsehood. the surrealists are dancing in their grave reading all this. i wonder if borges was a lefty? i vote probably not.
posted by oog at 12:13 AM on October 22, 2002


Wait, you mean to tell me that people whose minds lean conservative tend to go into business? And people whose minds lean liberal tend to go into academia?

I'm simply shocked, I tell you. Shocked.
posted by mediareport at 12:17 AM on October 22, 2002


Everytime a study like this comes out, I pause and wonder why they also don't do the same break down for other nationally respected univesities which aren't traditionally regarded as liberal strongholds. Where are Minnesota, Michigan, U. Conn, UT and Texas A&M? It seems they're cherry picking to setup an easy strawman.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:18 AM on October 22, 2002


Seems kinda like the "white's first" crowd complaining about there not being enough whites cause the minorities are "out" breeding them, "Liberals are out learning US, stop them" no don't just make sure your kids can't be 'fooled' or 'led' down the demon path of multiculturalism - anything non-white with out first being rendered non-antiwhite - :
MC Hammer okay, Ice Cube Nokay'
hootie = Okay, Rage Against the Machine = Nokay,

-rant-
When I went to College, I went in as a Republican Conservative,I came out a liberal, not because of the teachers, or the student but because I actually started reading about the outside world fro the world perspective, it boils down to I had to read about and talk to "others" in stead of sitting on my ass watching TV all the time.

In other words I grew up..
then I when to war and I really grew up..!!!!

so the right can kiss my ass, I've been lied to too much for too long, about poverty, war and profits and how all are 'needed' for a strong economy, to care if they die out due to the US just finally growing up..

-/rant-
posted by Elim at 12:18 AM on October 22, 2002


The Enterprise Institute is probably referring to the American Enterprise Institute, which is profiled here...

Some of the members of the AEI are:

Robert Bork, Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, Charles Murray, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Michael Novak, and approximately 30 other conservative public intellectuals and activists, many of whom are closely intertwined with the institutional apparatus of the right.

One notable former member who recently stepped down from an AEI board position was former Enron CEO, Kenneth Lay -- apparently he served on an AEI think tank with Dick Cheney...
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:38 AM on October 22, 2002


Elim...

-translation-

When I first went to college, I was a mixed up youth who had never found it easy to make friends.

Then I found a group on Campus who preached tolerance and acceptance - why, they'll have to accept a loser like me! I quickly learnt their left-wing mantra off by heart. I became particularly good at spotting fascists at gatherings and various social situations. I would call them names and impress my new buddies.

In other words, I finally got some friends and was desperate to blow smoke up their asses.

-/translation-
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:07 AM on October 22, 2002


"If you are young and conservative you have no soul; If you are old and liberal you can still get laid."
posted by 2sheets at 1:20 AM on October 22, 2002


What is it about Conservatives bitching about the fact that there are too many liberals on campus. And how come we don't here these so called liberals bemoaning the fact that there are not enough Liberals in the War Colleges and many of the fundamentalist Christian institutes that dot our great land. I bet the numbers would be 0 for Liberals. I'm wondering if any of these instututions have Peace Studies or Conflict resolution programs at West Point or the US Naval academy. Has Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal or Manuel Castills ever been invited to speak at any of these institutions? My guess is no. What about Bob Jones University? I wonder what the ratio of Conservative to Liberal professors is at this University and other Universities of this ilk.

The last great Conservative intellectuals I can think of is Russell Kirk (but he is dead) and Milton Friedman (not sure about him) I beg you point me to the others and give me a book to chew on that provokes my brain - Im open. The only thing I can see that the Conservative party is offering up these days is the latest diatribe by Bill Bennett "yawn" and the same simple patriotic tripe from the Party spokesclones Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Dinesh DiSouza, George Will not to mention the crap from Rush Limbaugh and the deceased Barbara Olson- what a shame! It seems to me that the Republican Party's focus has been diverted from a less government-more freedom agenda (which I always thought was its Core) to one dominated by cultural/social issues and social bashing. My Republican friends always bemoan the Social Ills but never once do they accept the Republican parties hand in creating so many of the social ills in America-what gives? When you think of less government-more freedom agenda of the Conservative Party and then look at the current Bush administrations destruction of the Constitution through the Patriot Act and the detention without Constitutional rights of the American Citizen Jose Padilla, you have to agree that the current administration is terrible travesty for America and our Constitution! Its easy for any simple chimp to see that the Conservative party has been hog-tied, hijacked and sold up the river by a a bunch of slick greedy Oilmen fools from Texas who are using the true Conservative Party, the Christian Right and other Patriotic scoundrels within the party and sailing America up a River of Fear! This is not the Conservative Party that was and its a damn shame. It seems that the the Republican party is so happy to have one of thier own back in the Whitehouse that you are completely blind and will overlook any or all the problems with the current Bush administration and its a damn shame. The Republican Party has been diverted from its original cause, it's ideals, and has been hijacked by lots of Corporate Money and greed- many of the Democrats are just Guilty too! I plead for the re-opening of the Conservative Mind and the Conservative Party to make me proud to be American-a few like Safire and others have spoken out its time for a lot more of you to perform a real Patriotic duty to this country and do the same. Its also time for you to produce some scintillating intellectual thinkers to inspire make our brains to think and be proud to be an American. America needs your independent thought, and your independent thinkers in our American Universities just as much as it needs our Liberal and Progressive thought. What be don't need any more of is spokesclones for the Party and its Patriotic hijacking of America! I think many in the Progressive movement of this country would welcome your independent thought as you would hopefully welcome thiers. Until then we will never meet as Ronald Reagan so presciently said " a land here that will be for all mankind a shining city on a hill. I think we ought to get at it."
posted by thedailygrowl at 1:20 AM on October 22, 2002


Most newspaper owners and publishers are Republican. What is the country going to do about this obvious detriment to free speech?

Most oil company executives are Republicans. Seeing as how the oil industry as receives billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies every year, what is the country going to do about the raiding of public funds by conservatives? Conservatives intent on styming and blocking renewable energy, no less.
posted by raaka at 1:36 AM on October 22, 2002


Simple solution.
If you are a conservative and what to remain in a cloister of conservatism.

GO TO A CONSERVATIVE UNIVERSITY.

I have noticed many so called conservatives playing the victim card lately. It's almost as if they want an affirmative action program for people who think like they do.
posted by yertledaturtle at 1:38 AM on October 22, 2002


By the way, this article was written by the same Peter Bronson who was the same reporter who blamed "predatory homosexuality" as being the cause of clerical sexual abuse... hardly the brightest bulb in the box.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:42 AM on October 22, 2002


GO TO A CONSERVATIVE UNIVERSITY

Sorry I must have missed the memo that said I couldn't attend a Public University, that my taxes pay for, if I don't want to be bombarded with liberal ideology...

Seriously, I do not have a problem with ideology in some classes... If I took a class in Women's Studies or Feminism, I would not be shocked to hear the NOW platform...

What does bother me is a lack of balance.

I signed up for a history class on the Vietnam War this semester, where the professor attempted to tell me that the North Vietnamese were not really communists (and spend a good deal of time ripping into Bush, totally not related to the class), and that is was completely America's fault that the North Vietnamese felt oppressed, never mind the 3,00 years of past conquers like China, and Japan.

Besides that, he was having us read Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July & Greene's The Quiet American... Both Anti-War, (maybe even Anti-American) works of fiction. No Pro-War book to counter that and give it some balance, is besides the point that this was a history class and not a literature class...

I had to drop this class before I made a scene in lecture...

This is not the first time I have run into this on campus, just the most pronounced.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:21 AM on October 22, 2002


this is controversial isn't it?



i go to hampshire college.

nevermind.
posted by magikeye at 2:25 AM on October 22, 2002


"If you are young and conservative you have no soul; If you are old and liberal you can still get laid."

Actually, I belive the adage is:
"If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 40, you have no brain"
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:32 AM on October 22, 2002


The times they are a'changing...

Where are all the lefties?

A lot of us don't bother coming back here because of your Jew-hating, fag-bashing, n------killing-strategies...in doubt?...ask Rev Falwell...he's been on CNN more than Chomskey, ferkrissakes. Much love...the cell
posted by red cell at 2:46 AM on October 22, 2002


Who else pays for your liberal public university steve? Who else? Name them. Name the taxpayers in Linwood. Name by name the taxpayers in your state. Spell out where they stand. Explain to us other than the have-nots being rah-rahed on by their fascist corputainers that they have any reason to not want LIBERAL universities in their communities. Explain to us where the necessity lies that all of your preconceived nationalist notions must be bolstered by the "education" one receives. Explain why one's mind must toe the line of authority. What is authority steve? Authority is conservatism. Because you're conservative does that make you authoritative? Because there's a planet of at least a few others, this side of Linwood, does that mean that what Linwood says goes for the rest?

What is it to be anti-war? Is it synonymous with anti-Americanism?

Conservatives don't think. They persuade and jam the intellect with noise and irrationality.

I signed up for a history class on the Vietnam War this semester, where the professor attempted to tell me that the North Vietnamese were not really communists

Who the fuck do you care is a communist? What is communism steve? Is that the same thing as being a communist? Hardly. Democracy is that all voices. . .

Fuck, why the hell do I go on? But. . .

No Pro-War book to counter that and give it some balance, is besides the point that this was a history class and not a literature class...

Pro-War. Pro-War. Do you see those words you use, you true believing, normal seeming, all around American, lunatic? Pro-War. You don't even think.

I'm afraid this is common. . .
posted by crasspastor at 2:57 AM on October 22, 2002


Crasspastor are you on crack? That was the most incoherent thing I have attempted to read in awhile.


Explain why one's mind must toe the line of authority.

I am not looking for my school to become a bastion on conservative thought, then I would not be challenged at all. What I do want is balance in a objective class like history... Teach about what both sides thought, not just tell me one side is wrong, and the other is correct... That is horseshit.

Who the fuck do you care is a communist?

Distorting history to fit ones ideology is worthless.

Do you see those words you use, you true believing, normal seeming, all around American, lunatic? Pro-War. You don't even think.

Fuck you for being so condescending. For all the rebel rousing of the '60s, some one had to support going to Vietnam... You liberal jackass.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:14 AM on October 22, 2002


rabble rousing
posted by crasspastor at 3:24 AM on October 22, 2002


I didn't think Steve was at all off base on this one. (Well, not after mentally translating the insupportible phrase "pro-War" to mean "presenting the argument that supported the war", which I think is what he meant.) I'm liberal as hell and even I get pissed off at some of the things that get passed off as truths. My favorite is the "only white people can be racist". Only people dead to all rational thought can say this, and as such, have no business teaching. That's the most obvious and egregious but there are many similarly insane constructions.

some one had to support going to Vietnam

Here, I think Steve means "someone had to have been supporting the war or it wouldn't have habpened, so it's improper not to present those arguments in a history class."
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:28 AM on October 22, 2002


or rebel
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:28 AM on October 22, 2002


Pro-War. You don't even think.

What I think the Crass Pastor is saying is that there is never ever, a justifiable reason for war under any circumstances. Which of course is ridiculous.

Or he could be saying that a Pro-war stance is cheerleading violent military action.

I don't really know, and maybe we shall never know because the C.P. seemed a little bit upset about something.

I can say absolutely that the freedoms that civilized countries have, and that the United States has, is worth fighting for. Unfortunately when your public University professor is filling your undergraduate mind with Marx, Trotsky and anti-war capitulation above all, your rational faculties begin to falter. I think this is the point of the thread.
posted by hama7 at 3:47 AM on October 22, 2002


Well, on second thought, George said it.
posted by hama7 at 3:49 AM on October 22, 2002


What on earth has what happens on a little peninsula in south-east asia got to do with the U.S (god bless).
posted by johnnyboy at 3:57 AM on October 22, 2002


No, actually H-seven, it is that our culture is one of multifarious dynamics. That's what I'm going on about. Everyday, I'm amazed, in my own big American city as to how we somehow get along with the brownies and they who end most their words with vowels. Amazed. I have dinner with them and do the things I should probably be doing with bonafide white Americans. But they're brown.

What I'm upset about is the the fact that you could take steve_at_linwood's vacuous Pro-War bugle and not call it for what it is. War. And his own vapid rationale for commenting in this thread. Pro-War in other words. You're for it? You're actually really for it? War. I doubt you have any idea then.

But then again, it's not at all about war even, is it? For you it is. Supporting the Theif in Chief and all that. But it's not about war. It's about saving face.

You know you have an idiot in office. And you know he's the best you can do for now. You do not care that he bypassed (broke) the law in order to get in office. But he's there. Why complain? He's your guy. News Alert: Liberals would never accept this presidency even were he our man.. Liberalism is the freedom to be right and the freedom to be wrong. The freedom to win and the freedom to lose and not lose your head over it. Liberalism is the struggle. It's never fucking done H-seven. Don't impute your lack of veneration of democracy on me. It's not about who is right, but what is right. As a humanist I do not sway.

That's what I'm worked up and upset about.

As the conservatives your are, beat that.
posted by crasspastor at 4:22 AM on October 22, 2002


As the conservatives you are, beat that. . .
posted by crasspastor at 4:23 AM on October 22, 2002


How many universities can you name that have BOTH a College of Business and a College of Labor? How many grad courses can you name that have both as many biz courses and labor courses?

I begin with the assumption that most professors are sort of liberal because they have no fears about losing jobs (tenure) but in a tight situation (I was in one--a strike at a universwity) they play ball with administration/boards of trustees (can not get more conswervative than that), ie, profs are basically full of crap (aught at universites for over 25 years)

The breakdow, typically, is by discipline;p arts and humanities=libeal; business, science, P.E. etc=conservative, both in students and in faculty.
posted by Postroad at 4:30 AM on October 22, 2002


It must be wonderful to live in your simple world, so full of self-righteousness.

You are right, I have seen the error of my ways... How foolish of me to wish that in a history class dealing with a war, that both sides of the issue are taught. Heaven forbid we understand why some people felt the war necessary.

Ah, once again rounding out a poor argument, the tired old line is trotted out to distract and deflected; the "Theif" stole the election...

Liberalism is the freedom to be wrong, and not take responsibility for it...

But I guess that depends on what the meaning of 'is' is...

It's not about what is right, because neither you nor I can define what is "correct" And an attempt to do so, to say that you are absolutely correct beyond a doubt, shows your poor grasp of the issues at hand.

You act as if you are holding your self to a higher standard, when in reality you have no standard at all.

(I am not even going to touch your interaction with "brownies")
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:43 AM on October 22, 2002


I hope it's true that most university professors are liberal. God, that would be great. If only I could believe that it had an impact...
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:00 AM on October 22, 2002


The link on this FPP says it all....

Enquiring minds want to know! Now that's a liberal attitude!! :-)
posted by nofundy at 5:14 AM on October 22, 2002


It's not about who is right, but what is right.

And on that point, crasspastor, we agree. Further, we must also agree that defending ourselves and our way of life is not only a right but an obligation.

War is an unfortunate necessity at times. We, as pampered Americans, accustomed to our decades of comfort, prosperity and optional military duty have begun to take these things for granted. Our grandparents did not, nor did their parents or American ancestors.

Nobody is praying for war. However to say that the very concept of war is flawed is to bypass reason.

Bush did not illegally win an election. I'd like to invite you to examine exactly how the electoral college works.

I appreciate your enthusiasm. My younger sister was a "brownie" before she became a Girl Scout.
posted by hama7 at 5:16 AM on October 22, 2002


I think what is interesting about the war in Vietnam is that the majority supported it at the beginning. Whether you are liberal or conservative, it is valuable to understand how we got into such a situation. Most people truly believed in the "domino theory," (including the most ruthlessly anti-communist (and "pro-war", pres - JFK, whom I'm sure you have pretty good feelings about C.P.) and supported the war on those grounds. Only later did we see the popular opinion turning the other direction... This was not a conservative or liberal tragedy-- it was just a tragedy.

On another note, Cornell has a college of labor and a business school. That's not to say that it's not one of the most lefty places out there, but with real historians teaching you did get both views.
posted by mtstover at 5:18 AM on October 22, 2002


Thankfully Science is (mostly) apolitical. I could walk into my math lectures without fear of indoctrination or preaching.
This seems to be a Humanities/Arts faculty fight.
posted by PenDevil at 5:22 AM on October 22, 2002


hama7: We, as pampered Americans, accustomed to our decades of comfort, prosperity and optional military duty have begun to take these things for granted.
I think Americans have a simplistic view of what war is because they have been spared, for a century and a half, from experiencing the true effects of war. Coming from a continent where the ravages of war on one's soil are still in living memory, and having had the experience of seeing a neighbouring coutry explode into a myriad wars, so that the various nationalities could "protect themselves and their way of life", I find the willingness, indeed glee, with which a minority (?) of Americans are willing to "wage war", more than a little disturbing.
posted by talos at 5:30 AM on October 22, 2002


Most people truly believed in the "domino theory,"

mtstover, the former Soviet Union may have fallen but the domino theory still exists, and is as alive and well, and as widespread as socialism, (and is this thread's case in point). There are former Russian citizens who freely admit that much of so-called "communism" has become virulent, amoral, fascist socialism.

I could find the links, but that's another thread.
posted by hama7 at 5:37 AM on October 22, 2002


PenDevil: Thankfully Science is (mostly) apolitical. I could walk into my math lectures without fear of indoctrination or preaching.

Just you wait 'til the start with the "New Math" crap. Relativism at its most ridiculous.
posted by dagny at 5:39 AM on October 22, 2002


I would like to apologize for even mentioning the word "Vietnam" and causing this whole derail...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:40 AM on October 22, 2002


have begun to take these things for granted. Our grandparents did not, nor did their parents or American ancestors.

and that's why the attack on Pearl Harbor was neither shocking nor suprising to anyone.
posted by tolkhan at 5:41 AM on October 22, 2002


because they have been spared, for a century and a half, from experiencing the true effects of war.

talos: I appreciate your point of view. But, Americans have been dropping dead right and left during military action for at least every decade since World War Two.

Not a soul is "gleeful" about it.
posted by hama7 at 5:45 AM on October 22, 2002


"Vietnam" and causing this whole derail...

Hold on S_@_L! Viet Nam is not as off-topic as you might imagine. On you go!

But the time has come for those of us in The East (just below funny-liar-nuke-land) to sign off.
posted by hama7 at 5:49 AM on October 22, 2002


I really wish everyone wasn't casting this whole debate in a Rebuplican vs. Democrat light - which, btw, I think is one of the linked atricle's principal faults. I don't think a philosophy or english professor is likely to be spending too much time on current event politics (at least they weren't in my experience). The real issue is an intellectual one, and pits conservatives vs. 'radicals' (I can't come up with another term right now).

Recent linguistic/philisophical/historiological work that the academies have focused on seems to be concentrated in the broad field of critical theory. Critical theory - which tends to be based in part on a denial of any a priori truth or ethics - will naturally draw individuals who have a certain politics (e.g., they won't be natural rights advocates). Arguing about the political affiliation of university professors is silly. Arguing about whether new hiring is skewed towards only one (and a quite recent) intellectual tradition and point of view is not.

Separately, the best single summation of what college is for in my mind came from an old English professor (who was the finest reader I ever encountered). His claim was the the purpose of universities was to "Take the boy from Kansas and strip him of his principles." By which he meant force people to reexamine and re-choose the intellectual and moral framework from which they analyse the world around them. I personally don't give two shits whether a prof is Republican or Democrat so long as he does that.

Also, the whole 'liberals are good and conservatives are evil' or vice versa discussion is really the most bogus bit of strawman crap, and everyone should lay off it. Particularly if you have ever in your life read any history whatsoever - groups for radical change have caused as much or more damage to the world as those who mindlessly try to preserve the past. Whose for meliorative change, anyone?
posted by fluffy1984 at 5:57 AM on October 22, 2002


dagny: Just you wait 'til the start with the "New Math" crap. Relativism at its most ridiculous.
From the Mathematically Correct Glossary:
New Math: A change in the perspective of mathematics education in the early '60s that emphasized set theory, and has nothing to do with the changes to math education today.
Maybe you meant Whole Math: The current revolution in mathematics curriculum, akin to the Whole Language experiment, that emphasizes group discussion, essays, calculators and guessing and de-emphasizes basic skills and direct instruction.
But isn't that kind of nonsense strictly for elementary school?
hama7: Sending people to fight a war is different from experiencing war in your own country. That was my point.
posted by talos at 5:59 AM on October 22, 2002


What else would we expect? If you want to get a mass amount of young people indoctrinated isn't education the best place to start? Karl Marx is alive and well on our college campuses.
posted by ZupanGOD at 6:09 AM on October 22, 2002


Also, the reason people read Marx is generally because they feel his historical analysis has enough importance (and sometimes contemporary resonance) that you should have to address it: e.g., what is the role of economics and class in the movement of history. Teaching Marx doesn't mean 'indoctrinating young people pick up cheezy nomme de guerres and sell Tupac Amaru shirts.' Do you deny the reality (or experience) of class distinction and conflict? Think about it - Aristotle is taught as well but no one bitches about indoctrinating people to seek a golden mean, you know.
posted by fluffy1984 at 6:15 AM on October 22, 2002


Fluffy1984: That is my point. Read Marx, study Marx. Just don't only study Marx.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:22 AM on October 22, 2002


Here's a fun read:

Left-wing Fascism: An Intellectual Disorder
By John J. Ray

posted by hama7 at 6:30 AM on October 22, 2002


I spent five years in Berkeley, and I can tell you that for every one of the ranting, tie-died and dreadlocked set demonstrating or handing out flyers in favor of Marxism, terrorism, cop killers, anti-American dictators, etc., there are a dozen people walking past them as fast they can so they don't miss their study session and jeopardize their law school or medical school applications or their chances of landing an investment banking job.

My professors who were there in the late 1960's would tell me that, even at the height of the anti-Vietnam war protests, except on the days that the lefties had actually managed to vandalize and intimidate the campus into closing, there were always more people heads-down into their books on a Wednesday night, and drinking beers at fraternities on a Friday night, than there were at teach-ins, sit-ins, and all the other hippy apparatus.
posted by MattD at 6:43 AM on October 22, 2002


Well, then obviously we need a quota program for conservatives in academia, right? Because, they've been historically denied opportunities for so ... so ... long.

All I'll say this time, is that I'd rather be a woefully underpaid academic, than a think-tank shill who has to churn out this kind of simple, repetitive nonsense for a living.

"Hi, hun! What'd you do today?"
"Oh, I wrote another editorial on the evil liberal conspiracy that's taking over _____. *Sigh* I don't know why. Only College Republicans and Fox execs ever read this crap. Make me a drink, willya, hun?"

Karl Marx is alive and well on our college campuses.

Yes, in fact. I'm having lunch with him today. (But, always, always he shows up and he's like, dude, will you spot me a burrito? and I'm like, dude! I bought you lunch last time! and then he's always like dude, I'm a revolutionary dude! and I'm like, but your dad's loaded, dude! and then he's like, man, I get enough shit from Jenny at home, don't you start, too, man!

So then, I usually spring for lunch.)


posted by octobersurprise at 6:46 AM on October 22, 2002


That is my point. Read Marx, study Marx. Just don't only study Marx.

Oh c'mon - Who "only" studies Marx? Not even majors in Marxist Studies, I'd warrant. Even at my bastion of (at times looney) leftism, Marx was taught against a broad historical backdrop, with a lot of what he got wrong as well as right. These surveys always strike me as a bit ridiculous. Let's take some of the well known centers of leftist thought and extrapolate to the entire US educational system.

What else would we expect? If you want to get a mass amount of young people indoctrinated isn't education the best place to start? Karl Marx is alive and well on our college campuses.

If it's true, it hardly seems to be working. Replace "Marx" with "Adam Smith" and I'd say you have a far more accurate assessment of what the youth of today are obsessed with.
posted by jalexei at 6:49 AM on October 22, 2002


I had a brief e-mail exchange w/Glenn Reynolds about this survey, in which I made the same point that one poster did above: the survey itself is "loaded" toward a particular type of elite university. (Never mind those numbers, which suggest that most faculty couldn't be bothered to reply to to the survey...) One of the bizarre things about these kinds of debates is the sheer snobbishness involved; nobody asks about the political composition of the third-tier comprehensive in regional Louisiana, or of the Calvinist college in Michigan. And yet in terms of sheer numbers, more students wind up going to the second- and third-tier campuses nobody can be bothered to care about.

An anecdote: a couple years ago, the NAS did a survey about the decline and fall of the "traditional" literary curriculum, using data from--you guessed it--a list of twenty-odd "elite" colleges and universities. Just for the heck of it, I called up the list of all college homepages in the USA and started working through the English departments' course schedules and catalog descriptions. As I quickly discovered, the NAS' "discovery" only applied to Research I institutions and the toniest private colleges; everyone else offered a very "traditional" (canonical English and American) curriculum, varied by an occasional African-American or Women's Lit course that seemed isolated on their own little planets. What not everyone seems to register is that these curricular differences don't simply reflect political differences--my own very traditional department has its share of liberals, although no real leftists and certainly a few conservatives. They reflect differences in the constituency. About 1/3-2/3 of our students plan to teach primary or secondary school. This means that we have to offer--and in some instances, depending on NCATE certification standards, require--courses that cover the required knowledge areas on the New York State Syllabus. Guess what most students at Cornell, UC Berkeley, or the University of Chicago are not planning to do?

Actually, if you want to research conservatives in academia, I'd suggest asking the Liberty Fund for a list of the faculty invited to their dozens upon dozens of seminars. At the seminar I was invited to, I met a combination of young and old libertarian to center-right types from all types of institutions. (Quite a lot of fun, actually, although my own dead-center politics sometimes felt like radical leftism next to a few of the folks I met.)

On preview: what MattD said. And that also applies to the professors. Most of us are what I call "lazy liberals" or "lazy conservatives."
posted by thomas j wise at 6:51 AM on October 22, 2002


I thought conservatives were all about tangibles like property, and liberals were all about ideals like justice, etc.

If this theory is true, you would expect universities to be filled with well-intentioned but perhaps ineffectual liberals, and corporate boards to be filled with thieving liars and greedy scoundrels, which is pretty much the case.

The theory doesn't prove a damn thing, but it helps make a wee bit of sense about why people end up where they end up.
posted by skimble at 6:52 AM on October 22, 2002


Oh c'mon

If you read my 1st post in this thread, you would see that I was referring to a class at my university that was very unbalanced...."Marx" could have been substituted for any subject...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:53 AM on October 22, 2002


this whole thing smacks of typical conservative paranoia, ala "the liberals control the media!"

the same people that complain about liberal biases will turn around and patronize places that wear their conservative biases on their sleeve (the worst of these being fact destroying think tanks). they aren't interested in a free distribution of ideas, they just want a bigger slice.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:07 AM on October 22, 2002


That the North Vietnamese leadership was more nationalist than communist is hardly the most controversial position that one could hold - or even in the top 50.
posted by raysmj at 7:15 AM on October 22, 2002


We do control the media!
posted by ZupanGOD at 7:24 AM on October 22, 2002


And his solution is?

If Peter Bronson wants more conservatives at public institutions, he should go into academia or convince his peers to do so. Otherwise, he should just stop whining and shut the fuck up.
posted by moonbiter at 7:36 AM on October 22, 2002


he was having us read Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July ... Both Anti-War, (maybe even Anti-American) works of fiction

Anti-War, OK, but anti-American? Ron Kovic? I'd say that's going a bit far. Besides, he got his legs blown off in a war that he later came to despise, I think that gives him the right to be anti-whatever he wants, NTM mention makes him more of any expert on the subject of war than any of us don't you think?

In other words I grew up..
then I when to war and I really grew up..!!!!


Don't compare 4 years on a green campus to risking your life in battle. It's not only obtuse it's disrespectful.

The amusing thing about all of this is most people I know( and I live with someone who holds advanced degrees) is that the main reason most people go to college is to avoid having to work at Sears if at all possible. The politics and all that are generally of passing interest to most of them, kind of like dealing with your crazy ex-Marine gym teacher because you need the grade to get your diploma. Not to mention, I always, even as a kid found educational debates like evolution vs. creationism, left wing prof vs right wing prof a bit insulting, because it assumed I believed everything I was taught.

Excuse me if I sound a bit cranky, i haven't had my coffee yet.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 AM on October 22, 2002


jonmc: maybe being the key word there.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:43 AM on October 22, 2002


"Maybe" implies that Kovic's patriotism was debatable.
posted by raysmj at 7:55 AM on October 22, 2002


Very long, apologies before hand.

I think alot of it has to do with your own particular experience. If you didn't have any professors preach inappropriately to you, you don't see a problem. If you had even one, you see it as a rampant problem that is destroying a generation of students.

I really wonder about where some of you went/are going to school. In my experience, it was well known which professors had which "tilt" in everything, be it grading, difficulty, or politics. I would say I had a fairly even breakdown in undergrad, and completely lopsided uneven (all conservative) in grad school.

My undergrad professors, you knew where they stood, and sometimes interesting discussions would arise but I can't ever recall being preached at or indoctrinated or anything even approaching it. The worst "affront" is on occasion some profs would make what I thought to be completely non-relevant tangents about God or Jesus, but those are minor, certainly forgivable, side discussions.

Steve@linwood, perhaps if you had stayed in the class, the hawk viewpoint was to follow?

The goal of higher education, in my sole opinion, is to open someone's mind to thoughts and possibilities that where previously unknown. This in its very nature is "liberal". I think calling the collegiate experience "liberating" would also be accurate.

I'm a child of the 80's. I have never been a Republican, but I used to be fairly conservative. Actually, in High School I was a strident bigot, chauvinist, and promoted U.S. Isolationism. But, I hated Reagan down to his last filling, and I never really knew why. He just seemed like a bad, bad, man.

I was an economics student, so the vast majority of my faculty were conservative. In this case "vast majority" means "all but one". But, what they did was they showed me the subject matter and the critical thinking tools to work out the problems on my own. It just so happened I kept using those same tools to arrive at different conclusions than them. Now, more often than not, I had to bow to their opinion because of a predetermined answer on a test. I knew I had to answer a certain way to get credit. So, during a long analysis, I would do the following: I would start with "What you want me to say is..." and I would analyze the problem as they taught in class and arrive at the predetermined answer. Then I would add "But, I actually believe the following:" and reanalyze the problem MY way, and arrive at my own findings and my own opinion.

The result? First, full credit, and all A's. Second, there were some problems the professor would bring into the following class and go over in front of the whole class, and describe how it could be seen another way. Then sometimes the prof would just mark on my paper that I was wrong, and point out an error, or more likely, an "unacceptable" methodology.

So what was this? THIS WAS AN EDUCATION! Even though I was being taught by conservatives, I became more and more liberal as I realized how I could form my own opinions and my own answers, and my answers differed, sometimes dramatically, from the status quo. By my senior year, I was a borderline socialist in a department created for the sole purpose of extolling the virtues of capitalism.

This became a problem in Grad School. :-)

It has been my experience that a conservative sent into college will either become more liberal, due I believe to the exposure of new knowledge, different cultures, and diverse experiences, or they will form a protective shell around them and become staunch ultra-conservatives.

I consider a good education to be the very antithesis of ultra-conservative values. Of course, YMMV.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:59 AM on October 22, 2002


Oh c'mon

If you read my 1st post in this thread, you would see that I was referring to a class at my university that was very unbalanced...."Marx" could have been substituted for any subject...

My apologies, though I think my out-of-context reading of your second comment is what some people here are implying. Again, the dangers of extrapolation...
posted by jalexei at 8:11 AM on October 22, 2002


bare the meme
when i went to university, i was slightly to the right of nixon. I got laid all the time....
anywho, I took a marxist theory course, on the first day, the teacher had everyone say a little something about themselves. It came to me, and I replied:
"my name is Larry, and I am an alcoholic...but i am a double major: history/ english with a minor in Int'l studies."

Teacher: "why are you taking this course?"
I replied that as a history major, i thought it impotent to know something about Marxist theory.

she questioned no one else. I dropped out of university 3 weeks before the end of semester. (personal reasons)

steve, i too took a Vietnam war history course, the prof was a Korean war vet whom i really liked. I do remember, later in that semester, my asian history teacher brought in a scholar on asian gangs. (The doc had good guest speakers) I remember this teacher (vietnam course)hovering in the back of the room and i asked him what he thought and he mumbled something about "asian hordes". I did not view him the same. But he was a good teacher. He had us read good-varied sources, Caputo etc. In that class, we had a student, he was born in the Philippines, and he and i hit it off as i was on the student editorial board and my then girlfriend helped his girlfriend with english and other student related matters. Now, this guy was smart, had better diction then me (surprise huh) But we had two ex-military types who sat in the back and when ever my friend came in, they chimed in:

"Bao Dai, Bao Dai"

I still remember the arched eyebrow when ever he heard this.

I said nothing, either to him or the two idiots.
I took refuge that "it was his battle".

perhaps it was, perhaps i should have called these two out. The last time they said it, i turned around and glared at them...they did stop.

I guess my point is that the individual must escape/cope these neat little ideaological niches of academia.

(jonmc, i worked at Sears whist at university and the then boss was the in the first graduating class of our local campus. Alot of my friends worked there and we where a tight bunch. Many went on to advance degrees in a variety of fields including retail.)
posted by clavdivs at 8:12 AM on October 22, 2002


I've seen liberal, conservative *and* libertarian profs pull crap similar to what Steve describes. I remember one philosophy prof who used to insert libertarianism into discussions regularly; it was like being witnessed to. It's insulting to students, but I think is at least partly due to the fact that many (most?) profs get absolutely no training whatsoever in how to teach. Is it any wonder that so many of them indoctrinate instead?

thomas j wise, great point about 2nd- and 3rd-tier schools and the skewed data in these surveys. Did Reynolds have a reply? I couldn't pull up any posts about this with searches at his site.

Oh, and Steve, "rebel-rouser" isn't a word.
posted by mediareport at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2002


(jonmc, i worked at Sears whist at university

But I bet you didn't after, right.:) Hell, I'm on the final 3 days of my retail career right now and I'm considering finally getting a college degree and ending my tour in the service economy is definitely a paramount concern to me.

Alot of my friends worked there and we where a tight bunch. Many went on to advance degrees in a variety of fields including retail.)

A lot of my buds my register punching days are still tight with me. And one of my fathers jobs is in retail as well. So I'm definitely not disparaging the field. I just want out my self. Also,you ask the average college student why he's going there he'll tell you that the number one reason is for better job opputunities when they get out is all.
posted by jonmc at 8:20 AM on October 22, 2002


Oh, and Steve, "rebel-rouser" isn't a word.

Tell that to Duane Eddy, man...:)
posted by jonmc at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2002


i think we're all missing an important, if not tangential, aspect of the article here:
"When I went to Mediocre State University, we studied Western Civ, not bondage. Some professors were even conservatives. And guys did not go on panty raids for something to wear."
blatant endorsement of theft? panty raids are not a victimless crime, here. i speak, unfortunately, from experience.
posted by zorrine at 8:38 AM on October 22, 2002


god speed in NYC sir. i agree with your decision if it makes a dif.

So I'm definitely not disparaging the field.

i did not think you where. Just a counter-example. which you countered well.
posted by clavdivs at 8:41 AM on October 22, 2002


The linked article mentions the UC Berkeley panel on Iraq, which was only four professors from the university speaking about it, and since it happened, I've heard it mentioned far and wide how it represents the whole of UC Berkeley, and by extension all of academia. (It's waaaaay up near the top)

Uh-Oh! Sorry mathowie. The linked article actually mentions the UC panel on Iraq. UC = University of Cincinnati.

This article was in the Cincinnati Enquirer, one of the most conservative newspapers around (ok, ok, I'm editorializing). So, it's not really surprising to see a skewed view and skewed statistics that say UC (University of Cincinnati) is becoming too liberal/not conservative enough. I work there, and, like representative Greg Hand says, it is one of the most conservative campuses of its size around.

Things like this have been going on at large universities like OSU (Ohio State University) in good ol' Ohio for a long time.
posted by valval22 at 9:29 AM on October 22, 2002


It was really quite misleading of Bronson to concatonate a survey of professors' political beliefs with extra-curricular activities. Also, his homophobia is just hateful.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2002


I also go to University of Cincinnati, and while I am in a classically liberal field - architecture, where our faculty are divided almost down the line. In fact, I would have to agree with valval22 on this issue: UC is a center-right campus, where the only protesting happens when there aren't enough basketball tickets on sale. Now, I think it is very disingenuous for people to claim that because there may [or may not be] more "liberals" in academia, that it affects the education, or even affects the make-up of America as a whole. If you are not aware enough to spot the bias, you well…may need more schooling.

Being liberal generally means being open to new ideas. Conservatism is just that: trying to conserve, and returning to a better way of life. Now, what that return to what better way of life, and what time, is a whole issue, altogether. Whenever I am trying to debate someone on the conservative flavor, if we get to a touchy subject [religion, environment, etc.] debate is instantly cut off. This is anecdotal, but has happened enough that it doe not even surprise me anymore. So I throw the gauntlet down to all conservatives: create scholarly works that rebut each and every one of my "liberal" views, and we can debate. But I bet that won't happen; conservatives are out to do one thing, scare the shit out of you, and make you long for times past. And they will show you that way - their way, and anyone else's view is not valid.

This is why universities are generally liberal: to learn you must have an open mind, and weigh all the issues. It has been my experience that those who lean conservative, stay that way, and as Ynoxas said, become withdrawn in their shell, thus hating academia for being biased. Then they move into areas where they feel at home, which is fine by me, because we need business people too.
posted by plemeljr at 10:48 AM on October 22, 2002


Most of the good ground in this debate has been covered, even if the threads haven't been tied up, but I thought I'd add a small bit of perspective.

I went to a large (30,000+) conservative church-sponsored school. There was an official "Dittohead Conservative" club on campus at the time, and I think it'd be fair to say that most of faculty and students were right of center. Those of us who held diverging views or even engaged in non-kosher speculation sometimes had a rough go of it.

There are a couple of important things to consider here, though. Unless I was sloppy about defending my ideas, I was never hurt academically with this (well, I was once, but that was in the context of arguing that some computer languages could be considered full-fledged human languages given the definition my linguistics prof had chosen to endorse. He disagreed, I got a C+) -- the context in which got hard were the shoot-the-bull sessions, and occasional matters of controversy that required political or activist action (so much apathy and inertia to overcome). But I learned to find and value something in friends and associates: people who will value your ideas on the merit of their supporting arguments as much as their own positions. People who might not change their minds -- they may still value different arguments more than yours -- but they'll give you due respect. And in the meanwhile, I also learned to even get along somewhat with a Dittohead roomate.

About a year ago, I had a funny experience: debating the merits of the Microsoft Antitrust case with someone who had lived in the Seattle area, was intelligent and well-read -- and who disagreed with my anti-microsoft stance quite substantially. It took me an hour and a half to put together a convincing case, partly because I'd been so used to talking with people who either took me as an authority or agreed with me. I'd gotten flabby.

I think going to school in an environment that challenges your thinking is an excellent setting for developing your mind. You learn to see the other side of the case. You learn to make your arguments without the ease of a friendly audience. You DO miss out somewhat on the body of knowledge that a community of people friendly to your ideology would naturally pass on to each other, but in this day and age, if you can't get access to it, you're not looking. And it really can be horribly frustrating if you go through a time period where no matter how well you can argue your points, no one responds. That's the worst setup, because you can become convinced that even reason isn't effective and the "other side" becomes an alien enemy. I've been fortunate those times haven't ever lasted too long.

I plan to go to grad school somewhere else. I'm pretty certain that when I get there, I'm going to find myself in the reverse position: more conservative than most. But I'll do my best to keep up what I've learned: not to be combative or antagonistic, or even intentionally iconoclastic. Just to advance the ideas I hold on their merits, and to make the acquaintance and association of people who value that.
posted by namespan at 11:59 AM on October 22, 2002


Excellent comment, namespan. I agree. (And one of the most interesting courses I took as an undergraduate was taught by a doctrinaire leftist who marked me down for disagreeing with him; thought less of him, loved the class discussion.)
posted by languagehat at 12:05 PM on October 22, 2002


thedailygrowl: The last great Conservative intellectuals I can think of is Russell Kirk (but he is dead) and Milton Friedman (not sure about him) I beg you point me to the others and give me a book to chew on that provokes my brain - Im open.

That's easy. Go read some Thomas Sowell.

The Quest for Cosmic Justice, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, Race and Culture: A World View, and Vision of the Annointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy would all be good ways to get started with Sowell.

And they're definitely thought provoking.
posted by wrffr at 12:46 PM on October 22, 2002


I don't know about anybody else, but I'd like the ability to killfile both Steve_at_Linnwood and crasspastor.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:20 PM on October 22, 2002


hama7: you fail to remember that our current president "won" florida only because the supreme court of the united states made an incorrect decision to allow jeb bush and katherine harris to disenfranchise everyone who voted for gore (and there were more of them than people who voted for bush).
posted by oaf at 1:30 PM on October 22, 2002


Steve writes:
I signed up for a history class on the Vietnam War this semester, where the professor attempted to tell me that the North Vietnamese were not really communists (and spend a good deal of time ripping into Bush, totally not related to the class), and that is was completely America's fault that the North Vietnamese felt oppressed, never mind the 3,00 years of past conquers like China, and Japan.

Ok Steve once again you are playing the victim here. Are you telling me that you couldn't find another class where this or a similar subject was taught? If you disagreed with this professor so much why didn't you drop the class and take another class with another professor more to your liking?
What do you want Steve? Do you want affirmative action for
conservatives? Because this is where your line of reasoning leads. All I can say Steve is- please stop playing the victim.

So called conservatives dominate and rule the Supreme Court, the Executive branch and half of congress not to mention the business world and the armed forces.

If you are so unhappy with the state of affairs in universities, have you considered a career in academics in order to change it?
posted by yertledaturtle at 1:52 PM on October 22, 2002


many of these people have devoted their lives to trying to understand the society that we're supposedly "at war" with,

if that's true, why don't they know that Islam teaches intolerance? witness the Taliban. they're completely intolerant of anybody else's viewpoint. doesn't make sense to me.
posted by jasontromm at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2002


hama7: you fail to remember that our current president "won" florida only because the supreme court of the united states made an incorrect decision to allow jeb bush and katherine harris to disenfranchise everyone who voted for gore (and there were more of them than people who voted for bush).

Not to totally derail the topic but that is clearly debateable. It could be argued that the USSC would not have had to step in if the Florida Supreme Court hadn't overreached the bounds of their authority and basiclaly thumbed their noses at the USSC. Furthermore, at the time the count was stopped, Bush was clearly ahead in the count and would have still won if the counting had continued under almost all scenarios. Furthermore, the count would have never finished before the deadline to appoint electors and the Florida legislature would've sent a slate of electors for Bush to Washington in any case.
posted by gyc at 2:12 PM on October 22, 2002


No one has mentioned which university it is that they attended, but I'm name mine: University of Washington, Seattle.

This is generally considered to be a liberal institution with an activist student body - the WTO and subsequent N30 anniversary demonstrations have been largely made up of university students, for example. However, as an older, returning student I found that the supposedly "lefty" faculty and student body to be fairly mainstream with a slight tilt rightward in many cases.

The exceptions, of course, were those professors within "left by definition" departments, such as Women's Studies, Labor Studies, African American History, etc. It is hard to see how you could possibly recruit conservative voices for such departments. The class would be a one-time, five minute session, where the prof stands up and says, "I fundamentally disagree with the existence of my department," and then leaves the room. (OTOH, it was extremely rare to find an economic professor that could be called anything but conservative, so I guess it all works out.)

The vast majority of the undergraduate student body seemed to consider themselves liberal, but when you actually sat down and talked to them about political and economic issues - especially economic issues - pressed them to do more than recite and regurgitate the lazy rhetoric that often passes for liberal thought, they usually turned out to be fairly moderate with only cursory liberal tendencies.

I usually attributed this to demographics: Most of the undergraduate students were young and came from fairly well off backgrounds. Mommie and daddie were ex-Woodstockers from the 60s, settled nicely into their post-60s careers in investment banking or corporate law, and were paying for their kids education off the dividends from their mutual fund accounts. Mom and Dad had imbued into the kids some vaguely left of center notions about how everyone should respect everyone else and be treated equally, while at the same time living in an all-white neighborhood, employing a Mexican nanny and using their new SUV to shuttle Sam and Suzy between private school and lacrosse practice. A liberalism that actually required social and economic change didn't interest these kids, since they were perfectly happy where they were on the social and economic ladder.

The professors I had, whether liberal, conservative, or moderate, were generally very concerned with giving all sides of any given argument, up front about their own political prejudices, and adamant that the students in their care think whatever they wanted as long as they arrived there on their own two feet and could back up that belief with a cogent argument. My favorite professors include a lefty English prof, a moderate PoliSci wonk, and a heavily conservative Philosophy guru.

As to that saying, "If you are conservative when you're twenty you have no heart. If your liberal when you're forty you have no brain." It’s flippant, more than a little vacuous, and most often quoted by those who were never really liberal in the first place, but it speaks volumes about the world that we live in.

College students are certainly not infallible, but one of their biggest charms is that they are naive enough to believe that the world can actually be changed. They look around and see that society does not really work in the way that they have been taught it does. The noble words, the patriotic stories, the myths of courage, integrity, and fairness that we are bequeathed at birth shine less bright when examined too closely. Faced with such contradictions, young people come to a seemingly obvious conclusion: something should be done.

It takes years for the world to convince them they are wrong. And more's the pity.
posted by edlark at 2:16 PM on October 22, 2002


yertledaturtle: So called conservatives dominate and rule the Supreme Court, the Executive branch and half of congress not to mention the business world and the armed forces.

Sometimes, it's very easy to loose sight of the big picture. Thanks for pointing this out and also scaring the bejezus out of me. :-)

edlark: The professors I had, whether liberal, conservative, or moderate, were generally very concerned with giving all sides of any given argument, up front about their own political prejudices, and adamant that the students in their care think whatever they wanted as long as they arrived there on their own two feet and could back up that belief with a cogent argument.

Said better than me in 1/4 the space. Good job.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2002


mediareport: Reynolds suggested that there was a good op-ed piece there, and if I'd write it, he'd link to it.

edlock: I went to UC Irvine as an undergraduate and the University of Chicago for my Ph.D. I encountered a full spectrum of political opinions at both places, but most of my faculty seemed to fall into the moderate to center-left category. I can only remember two people who were clearly trying to push a lefty agenda to the detriment of students who disagreed with them. Most of my professors were scrupulous about presenting and entertaining opinions with which they disagreed, an approach I do my best to emulate in my own teaching. (As Thomas Haskell reminds us, objectivity is not neutrality.)
posted by thomas j wise at 2:36 PM on October 22, 2002


Seems to me you've already written it, thomas. :)
posted by mediareport at 3:03 PM on October 22, 2002


Are you telling me that you couldn't find another class where this or a similar subject was taught?

Yes, this is what I am telling you, I attend a small university and there is one class offered every semester on the Vietnam war, taught by the same professor, every semester.

If you disagreed with this professor so much why didn't you drop the class and take another class with another professor more to your liking?

I did. If you would have read what I posted, you would have seen that.

Do you want affirmative action for conservatives? Because this is where your line of reasoning leads.

No. I never said I wanted more conservative professors. What I said was I wanted both sides of the story told when I take a history class. That is not asking much.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:09 PM on October 22, 2002


"Both"? How about "All three dozen" instead?
(sorry, pet peeve - I hate that 'two sides to every story' stuff)
posted by mediareport at 3:21 PM on October 22, 2002


Postroad, I go to a Engineering school and I have not meet very many conservatives there, and in fact the math department which someone claimed would be neutral is one of the most liberal departments. In fact I would argue that scientists and engineers in general are more socially liberal but do tend to be economically conservative, this is in my experience, your mileage may vary. The only major exception being ROTC, which should not be surprising since the military tends to be conservative.
posted by GreenDragon at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2002


mediareport: You know what I meant, right?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:24 PM on October 22, 2002


Steve writes:
No. I never said I wanted more conservative professors. What I said was I wanted both sides of the story told when I take a history class. That is not asking much.

Steve, I don't think that you are asking to much here.
Sorry didn't read your original post carefully.

I have a few questions for you though.
What school do you go to? Have you brought your problem up with the administration of the School. How and why did you choose the school you are going to? Do you believe there are only 2 sides for each historical event?

What is your solution to this problem other than kvetching about academia being dominated by liberals?
posted by yertledaturtle at 3:26 PM on October 22, 2002


You know what I meant, right?

Of course. I've already agreed, Steve. Pet peeve, like I said.
posted by mediareport at 3:28 PM on October 22, 2002


Edlark, I have to disagree strongly that the young should learn that the world should not be changed. The problem is that people usually do not go about trying to affect change correctly and also assume change can happen rapidly. There are few people who have actually through their actions directly change the world, such as Gandhi but it does not mean that small changes that a person can affect are worthless or useless. In general most people can at best affect the people directly around them for most of their lives. You can believe it or not affect profound changes in people lives, for bad and good, hopefully good, this is worthy in and of itself. In the long this can make a difference. There are many organizations that have huge affects on the world or region, e.g. ACLU, Doctors without borders, EFF, Public Citizen, etc... Most of these organizations probably started out with a person, an idea and little else. These are not ideals these are realities. Sorry this strayed off topic but I feel it had to be said.
posted by GreenDragon at 3:43 PM on October 22, 2002


Steve@Linnwood: Not saying that your professor wasn't out of line, I'll grant you the benefit of the doubt and agree that he/she probably was, but I think it would be quite hard to present any currently credible arguments for the moral or strategic correctness of going into Vietnam. Covering the stated logic of the time for engaging in the Vietnam War would seem to be crucial information, necessary to the class, and perhaps it is this absence of which you are complaining about.

However, with the possible exception of Henry Kissinger, who I, admittedly, don't deem as credible, I can't really think of anyone currently making the case that we were right to go into Vietnam. The Vietnam War is generally considered a big mistake by all sides. (Albeit for different reasons.) Many of those who supported the war while it was occurring, Richard Macnamara for example, have since changed their tune. Even Lyndon Johnson, who got us into the mess, and though he didn't see any way to keep us out, is on record as expressing the feeling that the war was wrong.

A college professor who gave the impression to a class studying Vietnam that the case for the moral correctness of Vietnam and the case against the moral correctness Vietnam are equally valid given all available current scholarship and opinion would be doing a disservice to his or her students. It would be just as right to accuse that kind of professor of not presenting all views as it would in the example you cited.

Professors are not journalists, whose stated purpose is to report and not interpret. (Journalists aren't even journalists, but that's another discussion.) In a situation such as this, a good professor is there to synthesize the available data, explain the credible arguments surrounding an issue, and provide an overview of the current state of the debate. If they do their job well, the student may or may not come to agree with their conclusions, but they will know why it is they don't agree and be able to make a logical and credible argument of their own for their interpretation. If all arguments and all sides are presented as equally valid and equally strong you won't be able to do this - if you don't understand the weaknesses of the arguments of others, you certainly won't be able to form a strong argument yourself.

By way of comparison, a history professor teaching a class on U.S. slavery would want to make sure that the class understood the rationalizations and motivations that white slave owners used to justify the practice, but would certainly be wrong to imply or claim that these rationalizations hold a moral or logical equivalence to our modern understanding that slavery was a bad thing.

GreenDragon: You misread me. I didn't say that the young should be taught that the world can't be changed, I said that they are taught that the world can't be changed - convenient argument for those who are happy with the world just the way it is. And I explicitly stated that I thought it was a bad thing.
posted by edlark at 4:02 PM on October 22, 2002


What school do you go to?
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
(If you go to the home page right now, there is a crude drawing of GW and Cheney in a rollercoaster that says "Enron" on it.... I am not ever going to touch that one.)

How and why did you choose the school you are going to?
I took some time off from school and needed a place to start again, and the National Guard pays most of state school tuition. Though I am planing to transfer at the end of this year.

Have you brought your problem up with the administration of the School.
Nope. This class is actually very difficult to get in to, it fills every semester and has a waiting list. I doubt the administration could care less what one undergraduate thinks, about such a popular class.

Do you believe there are only 2 sides for each historical event?
Of course not. Please don't try to dissect what I said, to find more there than there is. I wish for professors to tell the complete story.

What is your solution to this problem other than kvetching about academia being dominated by liberals?

Kvetch: Slang To complain persistently and whiningly.
1. A chronic, whining complainer. 2. A nagging complaint

You know, I have not once whined about the schools be packed with liberals. I could care less what your ideology is. I enjoy having my thoughts challenge. Is that not the point of higher education? But when you are teaching an objective course, be objective.

edlark:

currently credible arguments for the moral or strategic correctness of going into Vietnam
I don't want to hear current arguments for moral or strategic correctness, I want to hear why, at that time, some people felt the war was necessary.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:10 PM on October 22, 2002


GreenDragon: I reread my own post and realize that the tongue and cheek irony I was trying to employ may have been a little ambiguous. I should have been more clear.
posted by edlark at 4:10 PM on October 22, 2002


I want to hear why, at that time, some people felt the war was necessary.

Steve@Linnwood: And if you read my post thoroughly you'll see that I specifically said that such arguments would certainly have to be considered part of any well-taught class on the Vietnam war. But...

I don't want to hear current arguments for moral or strategic correctness

If that is the case then you really don't want a good education, you want an education that will allow you to validate the opinion that you seem to currently hold.

A good course on the Vietnam War, or any other historical subject for that matter, would have to include an overview of the arguments of the day as well as an up to date analysis of those arguments.
posted by edlark at 4:21 PM on October 22, 2002


as well as being key. This lecture amounted to nothing more than a bully pulpit for this professor to profess that America was an horrible imperialist nation, completely at fault for all of South East Asia's problems, and a platform to make snide remarks about the current President's polices.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:32 PM on October 22, 2002


Sounds like a bad professor. But why are you generalizing rampant imbalance throughout the higher educational system based upon this one prof?
posted by edlark at 4:53 PM on October 22, 2002


But why are you generalizing rampant imbalance throughout the higher educational system based upon this one prof?

I never generalized. I said that I dislike it when professors of any ideology does this. I have never said that all colleges, or all professors, are like this one. I stated one example of a bad professor that I have come across. Nothing more or less.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:03 PM on October 22, 2002


Steve_at_Linwood: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

I wouldn't qualify that as small... nearly 25k full-time students.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:07 PM on October 22, 2002


nearly 25K students: many part time and distance education.

The campus is the size of three city blocks.

But I am not going to argue with you about it.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:12 PM on October 22, 2002


Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. (And vote Democrat, apparently).
posted by gregor-e at 5:15 PM on October 22, 2002


This is not the first time I have run into this on campus, just the most pronounced.

Steve: Yes, you were generalizing and now your backtracking. Your comment was clearly supposed to be an anecdotal affirmation of a stated trend in the linked article.

But fine, okay, so you weren't generalizing...so now you're saying you don't believe that there is rampant imbalance, aka, too many lefties, in the academy. Just trying to clear this up as I'm a little confused.
posted by edlark at 5:17 PM on October 22, 2002


nearly 25K students: many part time and distance education. The campus is the size of three city blocks.

That just means it's dense steve, not small. :-)

25k seems big to me, my undergrad was 9k and my grad was 7k. Of course it's no UMich with 50k or whatever.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:22 PM on October 22, 2002


I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but I agree with Steve@Linnwood here. I hated the Vietnam War and thought it was misguided from the start, but if I were teaching it I'd damn well explain why most people felt differently right up to '67 or so. To my mind, one of the most vital things in arguing any position is being able to explain the position of your opponents, ideally to their satisfaction. To just restate your own prejudices is worthless.
posted by languagehat at 5:27 PM on October 22, 2002


Gregor-e: Actually, it's more along the lines of:

Those who can, do. Those who understand how it works, teach others to do.

I love people who bash academics. Such obvious jealousy.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:28 PM on October 22, 2002


We have about 10k full time students, about 6k in the dorm system and 4k that rent houses near campus. This is not big compared to the University of Wisconsin - Madison, with 40k full time students on campus.

Yes, you were generalizing and now your backtracking. Your comment was clearly supposed to be an anecdotal affirmation of a stated trend in the linked article.

By saying that I have encountered this more than once is not generalizing that all faculty are this way. It is saying that I have run in to this more than once. My first post actually starts off saying that I do not have a problem with ideology in some classes...

so now you're saying you don't believe that there is rampant imbalance, aka, too many lefties, in the academy.(emphasis added)

No, I have not changed my position. I never said that there is "rampant imbalance", as you put it.

Let me summarize.

People, no matter if they are college professors or not, are just people. And no one is perfect.

I do believe that College professors have a unique opportunity to take young, un-molded, trusting minds and shape them. It is unfortunate if one abuses this and attempts to indoctrinate these students.

For most students taking this class on Vietnam, their only reference maybe Apocalypse Now, so they take every thing the professor has to say at face value. He was not helping the class come to their own conclusions, and therefor come to understanding. (That is the point of taking history, to understand the past, and avoid the same mistakes) He was telling them "this is the conclusion to come to."

I am not saying that all or even most professors conduct themselves in this way, most of my profs are great. But what is the adage? "It only takes one rotten apple to ruin the barrel."

What worries me is the student who takes only this Vietnam class to fulfill their international studies requirement, no other history classes, and graduates with a skewed view of the world.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:24 PM on October 22, 2002


Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.

As a former high school teacher, I'd like to thank you kindly for the insult. *You* try explaining menstruation, evolution, basic geometry, algebra, sexually transmitted diseases and lots more to classes of 20-30 teenagers. *Then* try that "those who can't do, teach" bullshit.

What a completely bigoted statement. And yes, I know full well how mediocre education schools can be. But that's hardly a reason to slam one of the noblest professions on the planet.
posted by mediareport at 7:36 PM on October 22, 2002


mediareport, chill out. "Those who can" is a cliche that gets tossed around routinely; you can deplore it, but it's silly to take it as a personal insult. If lawyers can live with lawyer jokes, which are much more vicious, surely you can live with a snarky cliche.
posted by languagehat at 8:30 PM on October 22, 2002


I would hope, languagehat, that if someone posted a single comment in a thread about the legal profession that was nothing but a stupid cliche about how evil lawyers are, they'd get called on it by one of the lawyers here.
posted by mediareport at 8:47 PM on October 22, 2002


if conservatives want to see more conservative professors, why don't more conservatives become professors? i don't know who we're blaming for what here, but are republicans being denied positions at schools because of what they believe? are students being rejected because college admissions offices are somehow picking up on their political affiliations?
this might not mean anything, but the political spectrum is not made up of just two sides. it's a continuum on which some people fall somewhere between anarchist and anarchist that may differ not just for each person, but for each person on each issue.
i think the article in question was terribly written and not very well thought through.

anyway, i guess it's easy for me to say from my bubble here at hampshire college, but what can you do? it's the only bubble i've got.
posted by magikeye at 8:48 PM on October 22, 2002


young, un-molded, trusting minds and shape them. It is unfortunate if one abuses this and attempts to indoctrinate these students.

I had a young doctoral student, who happened to be a conservative, use this line with me once. She was barely above 21 herself, but referred to college-age persons as "intellectual virgins." Whatever. If students are "unmolded" at 19 they have been raised by timberwolves. Well, that's a bit of an insult to timberwolves. I'm sure there's some intra-species socialization going on there. Trusting? Most of them (students, no wolves) just want to get a certificate that's essential to getting a good job, or are there because . . . well, you're supposed to be there, the parents paid for it. This doesn't excuse ridiculously biased courses (I've had it from the conservative end too - but there the prof did admit he was horribly biased early on, and he had a sense of humor about it), necessarily, but you're overstating your case by a few miles.
posted by raysmj at 9:12 PM on October 22, 2002


If students are "unmolded" at 19 they have been raised by timberwolves.

I have to disagree with you here. When you have studies that show that most high school seniors do not know basic U.S. History, I do not think it too far of a stretch to come to this conclusion.

Most of my peers do not watch TV news, let alone read a newspaper, and hardly know what is going on in the world, save for the insightful commentary from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Except for political/news junkies, most high school student come to college with a blank slate.

I guess instead of "Trusting" I should have said "not yet cynical"
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:31 PM on October 22, 2002


How about adults with a basic knowledge of U.S. history? Hearing about The Latest Study that Proves How Dumb We All Are is a virtual modern American tradition. There's probably the same percentage of cynical 19-year-olds as past-21 adults of different age groups too - maybe there were more for a while there, given that cynicism was vaguely fashionable (even if that was confused in some quarters with sarcasm). I thought getting older was supposed to make you more conservative anyway, according to cliche.

No one gets to age 19 with a blank slate as far as basic socialization and outlook goes, by the way. No way. There are filters, even then. People can even be socialized to be apathetic.
posted by raysmj at 9:44 PM on October 22, 2002


"By the way, this article was written by the same Peter Bronson who was the same reporter who blamed "predatory homosexuality" as being the cause of clerical sexual abuse... hardly the brightest bulb in the box."
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:42 AM PST on October 2


Umm... the overwhelming majority of clerical sexual abuse is commited by predatory homosexuals.
posted by MikeMc at 10:02 PM on October 22, 2002


So what are you worrying about Steve? Are you worried about other peoples impressionable minds? Then the question is why are you worried about what other people think unless you yourself wish others to think a certain way?
Or are you just angry that you are stuck in a school you don't like?

I am trying to understand what your experience with one or two teachers has to do with the study by the American Enterprise Institute and whether or not you agree with the findings of the study.
It seems that you do agree with it's conclusions and that you are attempting to support it's conclusions with a few anecdotes from your own experience.

I agree that people pushing their ideology on others, no matter what the ideology and situation is, is repugnant.

The fact is that this happens. So what is the solution? Or to be more more precise what is your solution?
posted by yertledaturtle at 10:09 PM on October 22, 2002


For most students taking this class on Vietnam, their only reference maybe Apocalypse Now, so they take every thing the professor has to say at face value.

I'd be willing to wager that a not insignificant chunk of college students have a relative or freind who served in Vietnam or who particpated in the Anti-War movement. I'd also wager they've heard some of their stories and asked questions. I knew a graduate student in Florida who was doing a thesis on the Vietnam Wars reflection in popular culture which included interviews with his relatives who were Vets. he also asked me to dig up songs about the war, both for and against and believe it or not there were not a few "pro-war"(although many with qualifications but that's a whole other story).So I'd count that as a source other than popular culture. I know you put the "maybe" qualifier on this steve, but it's still to much of a sweeping generalization. I used to believe people knew less than they do. Give 'em a chance and a lot of 'em will surprise you.

What worries me is the student who takes only this Vietnam class to fulfill their international studies requirement, no other history classes, and graduates with a skewed view of the world.

Again, this assumes that collegiates believe everything that they are taught, which I can tell you ain't true. Sometimes they're just saying what the prof wants to hear in hopes of a grade, other times just listening to the other sides POV to sharpen their thinking skills(and to merely be fair)
posted by jonmc at 10:18 PM on October 22, 2002


Steve_at_Linnwood seems to be getting quite a bit of heat here so in his defense I will say this:

Many of the courses that meet the "diversity" requirement at UWM are little more than a semester of "White European man bad, poor oppressed People of Color good" blather.

Steve probably took the Vietnam class as it is one of the few that meet the "diversity" requirement and isn't race specific thinking he could avoid all the "whitey" bashing endemic in some of the other courses.
Boy was he wrong.
posted by MikeMc at 11:24 PM on October 22, 2002


MikeMc: Umm... the overwhelming majority of clerical sexual abuse is commited by predatory homosexuals.
posted by MikeMc at 10:02 PM PST on October 22


It goes without saying that most heterosexuals are not child abusers, right? And that those men who attack young girls are not accepted as heterosexual?
So why do I have to point out that to differentiate between people attracted to minors, the label 'paedophile' was coined.
If what you are trying to say is that most clerical sex abuse is committed against boys (and you may well be right), show me a link please. Your personal prejudices are insufficient to persuade me.

Essentially, you are slurring a whole community by saying that the child abusers who attack boys are homosexual: the equivalent slur is that 'as most abuse occurs in the home against girls, most fathers are abusers'. And that doesn't make sense, does it?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:13 AM on October 23, 2002


You know, it took me forever to figure out what you all meant by clerical sexual abuse. I thought you were talking about secretaries and I couldn't believe that the primary cause of sexual abuse among secretaries was 'predatory homosexuals.' I was also surprised that it was such a common problem.
posted by fluffy1984 at 6:46 AM on October 23, 2002


And what do you think of the slur, fluffy?
posted by dash_slot- at 7:18 AM on October 23, 2002




I couldn't believe that the primary cause of sexual abuse among secretaries was 'predatory homosexuals.'

It's their shoes. We want the secretaries' shoes.
posted by mediareport at 12:07 PM on October 23, 2002


I have a different perspective.

I became a conservative at Princeton, influenced not by the faculty -- whom I found quite liberal but generally reasonable and not preachy* -- but by other students. What got me on the road to conservatism was not greed (I was planning to enter some low-paying field) or bigotry (I was opening my eyes to new and different cultures) or bellicosity (America had been at peace for years), but a months-long examination of a specific question -- the role of morality in foreign affairs -- which I began a liberal and ended a conservative.

* The "not-preachy" I attribute in part to the often-stated observation that Princeton students are every bit as smart and ambitious and deserving of respect as the faculty -- their equals, just young.

I had no conservative role models in the faculty -- only among students. It caused me some unease when teachers I admired for their professional achievements invariably would espouse political views I found naïve or misguided. I never did resolve that cognitive dissonance.

"magikeye" asked "if conservatives want to see more conservative professors, why don't more conservatives become professors?"

1. Leverage. One could spend years trying (probably without success) to get tenure at a school, and be just one conservative voice, or one could influence it quickly and systemically using money and politics.

2. Because in today's environment it's a shitty job. Brutal competition, low pay, political correctness, iffy funding, dishonest colleagues, nagging administrators...

Incidentally, the best teacher I had at Princeton is now a banker.

Bottom line: I think faculties do lean left. I actually don't think this is a big problem at elite institutions, but I think that this can become harmful at non-elite colleges and among the public.
posted by Medium Rare at 2:17 PM on October 23, 2002


Bottom line: I think faculties do lean left. I actually don't think this is a big problem at elite institutions, but I think that this can become harmful at non-elite colleges and among the public.

Heh, so the ivy league students are smart enough to know claptrap when given to them, but state school students aren't?

Yep, you're a conservative alright. You're also an elitist.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:37 PM on October 23, 2002


Ynoxas wrote "Heh, so the ivy league students are smart enough to know claptrap when given to them, but state school students aren't? Yep, you're a conservative alright. You're also an elitist."

It's not about smarts, it's about relationships. I think ivy students are just as susceptible to claptrap as anyone else. But I observe

1. That ivy students are exposed to a greater variety of credible voices than non-ivy -- chiefly from other ivy students who, we posited above, are the equal of ivy faculty. Thus the rhetoric you hear from one could be balanced by equally credible opposing rhetoric from the other. And this is exactly what I found at Princeton, where liberal faculty didn't persuade me but conservative students eventually did. How is this different from a state school or from the broader public? I think (and I could certainly be wrong) that there you don't find the same explicit assumption about being the equals of the faculty.

2. That studying at an elite school set up a dialectic:
A: "My mates and I and everyone here are all pretty much the same, just goofy, nice, beer-loving kids."
B: "Shit, the leaders of the world will emerge from this group."
C: Therefore, "The possibility of achieving big things may be open to me, too; The people who do achieve big things are not all that different from me, so I shouldn't be awed by them; Being smart is nice, but it means less in life than qualities like will, courage, and ambition."

Without B you might never conclude C. At a state school or in the broader public I do think you find less of B.

3. That close proximity to the faculty demystifies them. While I was still a teenager I was working for Nobel laureates. I observed close-up their methods of working, their idiosyncrasies, and to some extent their biases. It awed me at the time but now I'd feel no hesitation walking up to one and saying "what's up?" Or "you're wrong."

Put 1-3 together and the end result is actually counter-elitist: Someone hears Professor Windbag express a political opinion and thinks, "he's really smart, he must be right." I hear him and I think he's just another guy with an opinion.

If you have not developed that sort of skepticism, then biased celebrity academics might influence you more than they really should. I think that ivies are particularly good at engendering that skepticism, and that's why I said that "faculties [that] lean left ... [aren't] a big problem at elite institutions, but ... can become harmful at non-elite colleges and among the public."
posted by Medium Rare at 5:16 PM on October 23, 2002


MikeMc: "Umm... the overwhelming majority of clerical sexual abuse is commited by predatory homosexuals."

No... that's a lie. Even the ultra-religious homophobes at the Family Research Council say that 2/3rds of clerical sexual abuse is perpetrated by hetrosexuals.

Contrary to what the FRC says, however, there are many, many studies that show there is no link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse.

Infact, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Child Psychiatrists and the Child Welfare League of America all have policy statements stating there is no correlation between homosexuality and child sexual abuse.

So shut your yap, you ignorant hatemonger. Thank you.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:46 AM on October 24, 2002


Medium Rare: Amazing. You are even more condescending in your 2nd post than your first.

And this is exactly what I found at Princeton, where liberal faculty didn't persuade me but conservative students eventually did.

Really, all that shows me is that you are susceptible to peer pressure. *shrug*

I also don't agree that any student is the equal of any faculty member. An 18 year old fresh out of private school has a small understanding of the world and any particular subject matter. To compare them to experienced faculty, who have the advantage of at least 8, but most likely 10, more years of higher education, along with however many years of being an expert in their respective field, is silly.

To say you are the intellectual equal of much more learned people just because you have high test scores is flawed, at least in my opinion. I'm sure I'm wrong though so don't bother telling me so.

Personally, I thought I was just as smart or smarter than my professors until I went to grad school. Funny, they seemed a lot smarter when the subject matter was more difficult...
posted by Ynoxas at 7:00 AM on October 24, 2002


insomnia_lj, I understand the psychologists' consensus that pedophilia is best thought of as different from homo/heterosexuality, a point MikeMc ignores, but the list of FRC quotes you linked doesn't say anything about the percentage of priests the group thinks are gay. The closest I find is a note that FRC has said gay folks "constitute about a third of child molesters" and that "approximately 80% of pedophilic victims are boys who have been molested by adult males."

Am I missing something?

So shut your yap, you ignorant hatemonger

Oh, come on. You have no evidence MikeMc is motivated by hate here. Breaking out the "hatemonger" charge against anyone who may not have the same information you do is a bit much, don't you think?
posted by mediareport at 9:46 AM on October 24, 2002


mediareport: "approximately 80% of pedophilic victims are boys who have been molested by adult males."

You already have said, "I understand the psychologists' consensus that pedophilia is best thought of as different from homo/heterosexuality", to me the logical conclusion is that the abusers ARE NOT gay. They are paedophiles, with an attraction to males.
There is a contradiction between "the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147)" and your use of the word 'gay', which is synonymous with homosexual.

That's what you are missing.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:14 PM on October 24, 2002


Now I'm even more confused, dash_slot. I understand that the FRC refuses to acknowledge the difference between pedophilia and homosexuality, but the quote I was questioning was this one from insomnia_lj:

Even the ultra-religious homophobes at the Family Research Council say that 2/3rds of clerical sexual abuse is perpetrated by hetrosexuals.

But the link in that quote contains nothing that I could find about "2/3 of clerical sexual abuse." Thus, my question.
posted by mediareport at 4:14 PM on October 24, 2002


Aaah, I see.

I was researching the HRC, and confused them with the FRC. I also don't get it.

insomnia_lj?

[BTW, I think that it is hateful to equate healthy homosexuals with paedophiles, maybe that was i_lj's main point.]
posted by dash_slot- at 4:43 PM on October 24, 2002


Not that it matters now but...

1) My comment was made in the context of the recent scandal in the Catholic church.

2) I never equated homosexuality with pedophilia. Many of the victims were post-pubescent and thus of no interest to a pedophile.

3) All priests are male and something on the order of 94% of their victims were male (Sorry I can't cite off the top of my head, New Oxford Review perhaps) and many of the victims were post-pubescent (see #2). Demographics suggest that a typical Catholic parish would be roughly evenly divded between the sexes thereby allowing the average priest equal access to children of both sexes, why then the overwhelming preference for boys? To say that homosexuality was not a factor is willful ignorance.

4) Many,if not most, of the abusive priests were predatory/serial abusers. Vanity Fair recently ran an excellent article about Fr. Paul Shanley an ardent supporter of man-boy love and predatory abuser of teenage boys. The simple fact is this was not an isolated case, several serial abusers were uncovered in the Boston area alone.

Infact, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Child Psychiatrists and the Child Welfare League of America all have policy statements stating there is no correlation between homosexuality and child sexual abuse.
And this has what to do with abusive priests? Please see point #2.

So shut your yap, you ignorant hatemonger. Thank you.

Well, all I can say to that is: I've never been called that by anyone,gay or straight, that actually knows me and I still stand by my original statement. To be blunt- the Catholic church has a major problem with gay priests fucking underage boys (again see point #2).
posted by MikeMc at 10:35 PM on October 24, 2002


"Many of the victims were post-pubescent and thus of no interest to a pedophile."

Child sexual abuse is considered to be sexual abuse against any minor... not just sexual abuse against a particular age of minor. It's not as if at a certain age, the pedophiles step out of the room and the homosexuals take over for them...

In fact, most sexual abusers are motivated by a desire to have power over someone else... and priests are in a unique position of having that kind of power. It's no wonder that in 85 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows and trusts the person who commits the abuse.

People who sexually abuse others suffer from emotional immaturity, low self-esteem, an inability to see harm in their actions and lack the knowledge to control their impulses.

Why do you think so much sexual abuse happens in prison, anyway? Are the homosexuals the ones doing the abuse in prison? Hardly ever. Frankly, they are usually the targets of abuse, because they are considered to be weak and compliant, and are therefore more attractive targets to the abuser.

All the major, unbiassed studies show that homosexual males are no more prone to committing sexual abuse than heterosexual males... however, as a rule, men are more likely to commit sexual abuse than women. So, it's no big wonder why priests, given a position of control over others, are prone to sexually abuse them.

Of course, a child who is sexually abused is more likely to grow up to be a sexual abuser themselves.... 30-60% of all sexual abusers fall into this category -- so it's no wonder that so many priests are sexual abusers... they were very possibly abused by their priests too.

Just to clarify, I never said that you were a bad person... just that you were mongering hate based on your ignorance.

...but by now, you should have the facts, right?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:43 PM on October 24, 2002


And to answer a few extra questions:

Q- "The link in that quote contains nothing that I could find about '2/3 of clerical sexual abuse.'..."

A - My bad. I did have a link I listed here that went into all the anti-gay quotes made by the Family Research Council. Amongst those quotes was the quote regarding gays, saying ""they constitute about a third of child molesters."

Even if that were so (which it is not), that would still mean that 2/rds of child molestation was done by heterosexuals. It's worth noting that you cannot link to these reports on their website anymore... but I did a bit of digging, and found the report on archive.org. Very homophobic stuff.

Q - "Demographics suggest that a typical Catholic parish
would be roughly evenly divded between the sexes
thereby allowing the average priest equal access to
children of both sexes, why then the overwhelming
preference for boys?"


A - Because priests have a high level of access and a much higher degree of power over altar boys... more than they would have access to the young girls in their parish. Also, keep in mind that much of this abuse might be based on their own previous sexual abuse. This is hardly something new in the Catholic Church... it has most likely been going on for quite some time.

Personally, I tend to see a lot of the problems in the Catholic Church as being related to self-esteem problems caused by years of repression. The whole process of becoming a priest, being a kid in a strict Catholic family, going to Catholic School, being an altar boy, being pressured to repress all sexuality, pressured to become a priest, etc. And all the while, there's this huge disconnect with your peers and with the larger reality in general. If that can't mess you up a bit, I don't know what can.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:44 AM on October 25, 2002


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