April 11, 2005

Conservatives for Liberal Bias

Another issue of The Review and more of the same on "intellectual diversity" and the preponderance of liberals at universities. But J. Stethers White (Whither the first name, Mr. White? Doesn't quite ring Anglo?) actually has an interesting take on this matter, so belabored at Dartmouth, in his article "Hold Yer Horowitz". I credit him for condemning David Horowitz's "Academic Bill of Rights" antics, which would be funny if they weren't so seditious and even occasionally successful. White likes the argument made by New Criterion editor Stefan Beck '04 and other conservatives that liberal bias only hurts liberals, writing:

The Right should not resort to diversity mongering, and in doing so, sacrifice its principles for a small tactical victory. The proper response to liberal bias—the truly conservative response—is a stiff upper-lip. Since William F. Buckley Jr.’s God and Man at Yale, conservatives have been quite clearly out of place on campus. But with constant access to the inner workings of the hard left, they have an opportunity to firm their own ideological grounding and to critique that of the Left. It is an opportunity conservatives ought gladly take, rather than adopting some their opponents’ most craven tactics.

I believe the Left has suffered to an extent because some liberal professors, in the humanities especially, have gotten removed from American political reality, partly for having such radically reality-based worldviews, but also partly because of an over-ambitious, 1960s-rooted philosophical idealism that has become at times quixotic with the erosion of the very foundations of progressive ideals by neo-conservatism (broadly conceived, with its strange bedfellows) -- a subject I have a lot of thoughts on. That said, I do not fully buy White's line of reasoning; I think having lots of liberal professors can be and is generally a good thing for the Left and for everyone else. I can't speak for all universities, but the faculties of Dartmouth and its peer institutions are pretty healthy as is, and certainly need no tampering from jerks like Horowitz.

Mr. White's supercilious stoicism is welcome by me. If he really means what he says, he would agree with me that zealous trustee candidates like Zywkci and Robinson would also have no place in interfering with the vibrant faculty we have here, say, by pressuring hiring processes.

White's article, and the new TDR issue in general, are worth reading if, like me, you thrist for the edification only conservatives can provide.

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