The Left's last paradise
In Academia, Studies
New York Times,
WASHINGTON -- Oh, well, if studies say so.
The great secret is out: liberals dominate campuses. Coming soon: ``Moon Implicated in Tides, Studies Find.''
One study of 1,000 professors finds that Democrats outnumber Republicans at least seven to one in the humanities
and social sciences. That imbalance, more than double what it was three decades ago, is intensifying because younger professors
are more uniformly liberal than the older cohort that is retiring.
Another study, of voter registrations records, including those of professors in engineering and the hard sciences,
found nine Democrats for every Republican at Berkeley and Stanford. Among younger professors, there were 183 Democrats, six
But we essentially knew this even before The American Enterprise magazine reported in 2002 of examinations of
voting records in various college communities. Some findings about professors registered with the two major parties or with
liberal or conservative minor parties:
Cornell: 166 liberals, 6 conservatives.
Stanford: 151 liberals, 17 conservatives.
Colorado: 116 liberals, 5 conservatives.
UCLA: 141 liberals, 9 conservatives.
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that in 2004, of the top five institutions in terms of
employee per capita contributions to presidential candidates, the third, fourth and fifth were Time Warner, Goldman Sachs
and Microsoft. The top two were the California university system and Harvard, both of which gave about 19 times more money
to John Kerry than to George Bush.
But George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Berkeley, denies that academic institutions are biased against
conservatives. The disparity in hiring, he explains, occurs because conservatives are not as interested as liberals in academic
careers. Why does he think liberals are like that? ``Unlike conservatives, they believe in working for the public good and
social justice.'' That clears that up.
A filtering process, from graduate school admissions through tenure decisions, tends to exclude conservatives
from what Mark Bauerlein calls academia's ``sheltered habitat.'' In a dazzling essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education,
Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University and director of research at the National Endowment for the Arts, notes
that the ``first protocol'' of academic society is the ``common assumption'' -- that, at professional gatherings, all the
strangers in the room are liberals.
It is a reasonable assumption, given that in order to enter the profession, your work must be deemed, by the
criteria of the prevailing culture, ``relevant.'' Bauerlein says various academic fields now have regnant premises that embed
political orientations in their very definitions of scholarship:
Schools of education, for instance, take constructivist theories of learning as definitive, excluding realists
(in matters of knowledge) on principle, while the quasi-Marxist outlook of cultural studies rules out those who espouse capitalism.
If you disapprove of affirmative action, forget pursuing a degree in African-American studies. If you think that the nuclear
family proves the best unit of social well-being, stay away from women's studies.
This gives rise to what Bauerlein calls the ``false consensus effect,'' which occurs when, due to institutional
provincialism, ``people think that the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population.'' There
also is what Cass Sunstein, professor of political science and jurisprudence at the University of Chicago, calls ``the law
of group polarization.'' Bauerlein explains: ``When like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion
shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs.'' They become tone-deaf to the way they sound to others outside their
closed circle of belief.
When John Kennedy brought to Washington such academics as Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, McGeorge
and William Bundy and Walt Rostow, it was said that the Charles River was flowing into the Potomac. Actually, Richard Nixon's
administration had an even more distinguished academic cast -- Henry Kissinger, Pat Moynihan, Arthur Burns, James Schlesinger
Academics, such as the next secretary of state, still decorate Washington, but academia is less listened to
than it was. It has marginalized itself, partly by political shrillness and silliness that have something to do with the parochialism
produced by what George Orwell called ``smelly little orthodoxies.''
Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations -- except such nations usually have the merit,
such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed
their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome.
They do indeed cultivate diversity -- in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought.
Washington Post Writers Group