Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Liberal Acknowledges That Liberals Own A Large Portion of the Blame for The Disdain Conservatives Have for Universities

The author shows his own prejudices, to be sure, and probably isn't even aware of them (how many do you find in just the snippet below?).  But despite that, he's headed in the right (like that pun??!!) direction:
And given the endless controversies on college campuses in which conservative speakers get shut out and conservative students feel silenced, the public relations work is being done for the enemies of public education by those within the institutions themselves.

Who’s to blame for the fact that so few Republicans see the value in universities? The conservative media must accept some responsibility for encouraging its audiences to doubt expertise; so must those in the mainstream media who amplify every leftist kerfuffle on campus and make it seem as though trigger warnings are now at the center of college life.

But academics are at fault, too, because we’ve pushed mainstream conservatism out of our institutions. Sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons have found that about half of professors identify as liberal, versus only 14% who identify as Republican. (At the time of their study, in 2006, only a fifth of American adults described themselves as liberal.)

In “What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?” Michael Berube describes and defends a philosophy of non-coercion and intellectual pluralism that isn’t just an intellectual curiosity, but an actual ethos that he and other professors live by. I grew up believing that most professors lived by that ethos. I don’t anymore. And when I suggest it’s a problem that academics are so overwhelmingly liberal, I get astonished reactions. “You actually think conservatives should feel welcome on campus?”

In my network of professional academics, almost no one recognizes that our lopsided liberalism presents a threat to academia itself. Many would reply to the Pew Research Center’s findings with glee. They would tell you that they don’t want the support of Republicans. My fellow academics won’t grapple with the simple, pragmatic realities of political power and how it threatens vulnerable institutions whose funding is in doubt. That’s because there is no professional or social incentive in the academy to think strategically or to engage with the world beyond campus.
The last paragraph shows that his reasoning is based on practical rather than philosophical considerations.  In fact, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch, from what is excerpted above, to conclude that the author wouldn't worry at all if Democrats ran all levels of government and hence universities wouldn't have to worry about funding.  Still, despite his traveling down the wrong road, he arrived at the right destination.

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