Recent studies have confirmed that American universities have become bigoted and biased against the expression of conservative views. One new study documents bias against the expression of conservative views among social and personality psychologists, including those at universities:
We find that respondents significantly underestimate the proportion of conservatives among their colleagues. … that conservatives fear negative consequences of revealing their political beliefs to their colleagues. Finally, we find that conservatives are right to do so. In decisions ranging from paper reviews to hiring, many social and personality psychologists admit that they would discriminate against openly conservative colleagues. The more liberal respondents are, the more willing they are to discriminate.
Also note this passage, from the 2009 book The Politically Correct University:
Substantial anecdotal and quantitative evidence indicates that there is a decided leftist bent to colleges and universities, particularly the most prestigious institutions … Moreover, as several of the following contributions discuss, this political imbalance likely stems from practices within the academy that discourage conservatives from pursuing academic careers. … We maintain that the relative absence of conservative, libertarian, and neoliberal thinkers and thought from the academy is in part caused by discriminatory academic personnel practices.
And read this passage from “A Crisis of Competence,” a 2012 report for the Regents of the University of California by the California Association of Scholars:
This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics. … The condition we investigate is now a well-documented pathology of the modern university. … According to a recent (2007) Zogby poll, a majority (58%) of the public now believes that the problem of faculty political bias is a very serious one.
These are the very institutions that were to promote freedom of speech. How were they taken control of in the first place, to the point where the documented intolerance could be permitted?
Professor David Gelernter’s new book America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats) addresses the history behind the transformation of many universities to a system biased in favor of liberal views. He describes how leftist intellectuals were brought into the universities, and how the previous guardians of conservatism in these places bowed out. Gelernter observes that such views spread elsewhere from their new home in the university, including to the mainstream media.
Gelernter believes that the old conservative guard voluntarily stepped aside:
Intellectuals didn’t conspire to make the cultural revolution happen. They could not have forced the Great Reform if they had tried, because the WASP elite colleges were private institutions in the age before massive federal grants let the government sink its teeth in permanently. The reform happened because the WASP elite stepped aside. It was a remarkable event — either a heroic, self-effacing embrace of justice for its own sake, or an act of exhaustion.
But perhaps he is being too kind to the intellectuals. Is it possible that indeed there was a mechanism by which leftists forced out those who didn’t agree with them?
I propose that there may indeed be such a mechanism, and will make this case beginning with a quote from Gelernter himself:
Among intellectuals, the left-liberal religious faithful are often not merely pious but zealous, even fanatic. To conservatives, they seem irrational and intellectually unserious, unable to hold their own in political argument, often unwilling even to try — all too apt, when pressed, to slouch off in a sulk or flare up like a burnt-out lightbulb with no more watts to spare on you. There is a frazzled flash, a silence, then “let’s talk about something else.” Many conservatives have had the experience.
Gelernter is, perhaps, understating the case. Many conservatives have found that expressing their political views around friends and family can lead to harsh insults, to loss of friendships, and even to a weakening of family ties.
Here are two recent examples from my own experience. I have an email list of 50 close friends and relatives that had previously been used by another member of the list (not myself) for expression of political views. I sent out some pro-conservative viewpoints to this list. One response came back from a dear, life-long friend:
I figure that, at best, this [a view I had expressed] reflects a desperate wish that the economy and life are that simple. A more damning explanation — intellectual laziness. Worse than that — willful intent to distort for political gain.
This friend later emailed me to make sure we continued on terms of strong friendship — and I replied that indeed we do. On Facebook I have posted a number of views critical of Obama but devoid of insulting language. A friend of more than a decade responded:
Your posts and commentary are literally making me sick.
He has since “unfriended” me and failed to reply to a recent sociable email I sent him on a non-political subject. I would gladly continue to be on good terms with him, and have reached out to him with a friendly email as noted. The behavior exemplified by these two events is not generally the behavior of conservatives: conservatives believe in a free exchange of views; conservatives believe in public debate. This Alinsky-style behavior appears to be primarily in use among liberals.
Take this kind of behavior that conservatives encounter so often in our daily lives, the sudden rudeness and hostility from friends and even family in response to an expression of conservative views, and imagine that in the context of academia or a media organization –won’t the effect be to drive out those who have conservative views?
Perhaps conservatives have failed to realize that this hostility of liberals is not limited to the sphere of public debate. Conservatives, believing in a free exchange of views and in public debate, welcomed liberals into the universities, the media, and into other organizations as well. Liberals, hostile to a free exchange of views and hostile to public debate, then drove conservatives out.
This appears to explain how our universities and media first became not merely inclusive of liberal views, but also subsequently exclusive of conservative views.
While conservatives have been treating liberals’ insults and hostility as a mere inconvenience to public debate, it has also been a tool used by liberals to drive conservatives out of their places of business, their chosen professions. As Professor Gelernter recently observed on Powerline:
While conservatives worry about debt and taxes and huge problems abroad, the left is busy pulling the whole country out from under them. While conservatives fiddle around on the roof, robbers are rifling the house and stealing the children.
The rightful goal of the media is to permit the public to be aware of all facts relevant to public debate, including facts supportive of liberal views, conservative views, and any and all other views. When things have reached the point where, as Roger L. Simon points out, reporters are afraid of being fired should they report facts supportive of conservative views, then we have a “Zombie Media,” one no longer serving its rightful function. It has been taken over by a hostile organization, shows merely the semblance of life, and is in fact supporting a purpose inimical to that which it is properly expected to perform.
If we now understand how our media and universities first became bigoted and biased against conservatives, we can at long last begin to consider steps intended to affect a turning of the tide.