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HIGHER EDUCATION TAKES SIDES: Students, faculty stage nationwide anti-Kavanaugh protests. When taxpayers grow tired of subsidizing these schools because they see higher ed as a political-action tool for one party, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Sanctuary city college rescinds ICE career fair invitation. When taxpayers tire of subsidizing this stuff, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

REMEMBER, WHEN PEOPLE GET TIRED OF SUBSIDIZING THIS, WE’LL BE TOLD IT’S BECAUSE OF “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM:” How a Social Justice Mob Fired a Tenured Professor.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A Mathematics Paper Two Math Journals Were Mau-Maued into Suppressing: Academic discourse is increasingly under threat from activist professors.

When taxpayers grow tired of subsidizing this clown show, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.” Meanwhile, the paper they were trying to suppress is here. Abstract:

An elementary mathematical theory based on “selectivity” is proposed to address a question raised by Charles Darwin, namely, how one gender of a sexually dimorphic species might tend to evolve with greater variability than the other gender. Briefly, the theory says that if one sex is relatively selective then from one generation to the next, more variable subpopulations of the opposite sex will tend to prevail over those with lesser variability; and conversely, if a sex is relatively non-selective, then less variable subpopulations of the opposite sex will tend to prevail over those with greater variability. This theory makes no assumptions about differences in means between the sexes, nor does it presume that one sex is selective and the other non-selective. Two mathematical models are presented: a discrete-time one-step statistical model using normally distributed fitness values; and a continuous-time deterministic model using exponentially distributed fitness levels.

This is what some professors thought too right-wing (or whatever) to be published. Because punch Nazis.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Instructor tries to quarantine gun owners in back of class. “A teaching assistant at the University of Utah tried to create a ‘Second Amendment zone’ in a classroom, forcing students who legally carry to stand in a tiny, taped-off area with no desk during class.”

This is the sort of mean-spirited abuse of power one expects from today’s campus left. When taxpayers lose interest in subsidizing it, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Identifying the Real Haters on Campus.

While radical feminism in the 1960s called for challenging existing gender roles and abolishing what the feminists saw as the pervasive patriarchy that permeated social institutions, churches, politics, and schools, today’s radical feminists call for the elimination of men.

In an offshoot of the #MeToo movement, the #YesAllMen campaign rejects the goodness of all men. Sociologist, Suzanna Danuta Walters, a lesbian gender studies professor at Northeastern University, published an op-ed in the Washington Post last month titled: “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” Walters advised men to “Step away from the power…Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything…And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you.”

Walters believes that gender is a social construct—one that privileges men unfairly. To remedy this, she suggests that gender be simply eliminated. In an interview published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Walters said that “the world would be a better place for men and for women if we did away with gender altogether—gender nouns, gender binaries, and so on. And God knows men would be happier and better people if we did away with that.” Believing that we can “break apart the binary oppositions” to create more “fluidity,” Walters concludes that “gender demeans, constructs, produces power, constrains.”

Rejecting any criticism of her thesis that all men deserve to be marginalized, Walters has attacked those who voiced some concerns about her proposal to eliminate gender—and men.

When taxpayers tire of subsidizing this sort of thing, we’ll be told that it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Colleges May Reject You Based On Whom You Follow On Social Media.

Remember, when taxpayers tire of subsidizing this industry, we’ll be told it’s because of close-minded anti-intellectualism.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Sarah Jeong Is a Boring, Typical Product of the American Academy. “The key features of Jeong’s worldview are an obsession with whiteness and its alleged sins; a commitment to the claim that we live in a rape culture; and a sneering contempt for objectivity and truth-seeking. These are central tenets of academic victimology. From the moment freshmen arrive on a college campus, they are inundated by the message that they are either the bearers of white privilege or its victims. College presidents and the metastasizing diversity bureaucracy teach students to see racism where none exists, preposterously accusing their own institutions of systemic bias. ‘Bias response teams,’ confidential ‘discrimination hotlines,’ and implicit-bias training for faculty and staff roll forth from university coffers in wild abandon.”

Welcome to the academy’s New Normal.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): When taxpayers get tired of subsidizing those university coffers, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

BUT REMEMBER, WHEN PEOPLE DON’T TRUST THE PRESS, IT’S BECAUSE OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM AND STUFF: The New York Times Editorial Board Just Hired An Insanely Racist Writer.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: When colleges say ‘inclusive,’ what they really mean is no conservatives.

Need more evidence that US campuses actively silence conservatives? Then take a look at a stunning new report by the higher-ed watchdog Campus Reform.

The report notes that at SUNY-Albany last year, 64 speakers identified as liberal were handed the podium, vs. just two conservatives.

Many of the speakers were officials who’d worked in the Obama administration, including two Environmental Protection Agency regional directors and the head of Customs and Border Protection.

Events included discussions on “marginalized communities,” “barriers to naturalization for low-income immigrants” and “gender and sexuality from a Jewish lens.”

Part of the reason for the skew, the report says, is the school’s “Strategic Plan,” which calls for a more “diverse” and “inclusive” campus. By “inclusive,” SUNY apparently means: Let almost no conservatives speak.

SUNY-Albany is hardly unique: In 2016-17, liberal speakers outnumbered conservatives 44-4 at the University of Indiana, 30-9 at George Washington University, 9-2 at Alabama and 44-2 at Vermont, Campus Reform also found.

And colleges don’t just favor left-wing speakers: A study last April by Brooklyn College’s Mitchell Langbert of 8,688 tenure-track professors at top liberal-arts colleges found that, of those enrolled in a political party, 10 times as many were Democrats as Republicans. Some 39 percent of the colleges had no GOPers at all.

When taxpayers tire of subsidizing all this partisan indoctrination, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Yale law prof encourages people to ‘hide immigrants from ICE.’ “Gregg Gonsalves is more than willing to disclose the locations of ICE employees, however, encouraging others to release their home addresses and saying he would have ‘no qualms’ about showing up at those homes himself.”

When taxpayers get tired of subsidizing these institutions, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Feminist scholar slams hot-wing-eating show for ‘inequitable gender hierarchies.’ Remember, when taxpayers tire of funding this sort of thing, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: STUDY: Fossil fuels contribute to ‘petro-masculinity.’ And this is at Virginia Tech. Remember, when taxpayers tire of paying for stuff like this, we’ll be told it’s due to “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A University of Northern Colorado professor told students that she hopes they can “find something to celebrate” on Independence Day despite “a ton of ugliness in our nation’s past and present.” When taxpayers tire of supporting this sort of thing, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Frustrated Faculty Struggle To Defend Tenure Before It’s Too Late.

[T]he argument that tenure is the essential protection faculty members need to do their jobs is one that an increasing number of professors have felt compelled to make — and almost always to less-than-receptive audiences. In an era where skepticism about higher education runs high and anti-intellectualism thrives in the political discourse, the concept of tenure fuels perceptions that professors are a protected class isolated from the rigors of the real world.

The argument that tenure is essential to protecting independent thought would be more compelling if universities and their faculties showed more interest in independent thought. And that’s not because of “anti-intellectualism” on the part of the public.

Related:

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: 2018 Grad Decries Political Correctness At Stanford Law School.

At Stanford Law School, no more than three of approximately 110 full-time faculty publicly identify as conservative or libertarian. (By way of contrast, Stanford Law School touts on its webpage 23 full-time faculty under the inartful rubric of “minority.”) As a consequence, many of my classmates will graduate having never engaged with a law professor whose worldview and convictions track those of nearly half the voting public.

It would require nothing less than willful blindness to presume this state of play does not affect the education that students receive. Probably for obvious reasons, my classmates demonstrate little willingness to identify publicly with anything associated with conservatism or, God forbid, President Trump, no matter how trivial. By way of extraordinary example, the Law School Republicans will soon cease to exist as a student organization because — after a campaign of intimidation and opprobrium — not one underclassman would volunteer to serve on its board next academic year.

An almost unspoken agreement seems to exist among many students that all of us will soon be fabulously successful, so long as everyone remains a “team player” and nobody rocks the boat too earnestly. Political, moral, and religious convictions are, for the most part, accessories best deployed for instrumental purposes, rather than values to be espoused or explored for their own sake. In much the same manner that all respectable people may speak or dress or eat a certain way, students at Stanford Law School have come to believe — and not entirely without reason, given their surroundings — that all respectable people should think the same way. …

For the past two years, I have repeatedly beseeched the dean of Stanford Law School to follow the example set by the leaders of my undergraduate alma mater — the University of Chicago — and publicly affirm the centrality of viewpoint diversity to the aims of education. Each time, she has refused, citing squeamishness at the prospect of overstepping her portfolio. Yet during that same period, she has nonetheless offered schoolwide commentary on public topics as diverse as the violence in Charlottesville, the rescission of DACA, and the Trump administration’s efforts to ban transgender individuals from military service.

Beyond the Office of the Dean, Stanford Law School has staged programs aimed at helping students to #resist more effectively, celebrating International Workers’ Day and offering advice on “progressive lawyering” in the Trump era. Professors have sent schoolwide emails condemning anyone who supported President Trump as either an outright racist or an enabler who is #complicit. One professor even saw fit to join a student/alumni Facebook group for the purposes of criticizing the Law School Republicans.

When the taxpayers get tired of supporting this narrowmindedness, they’ll be accused of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Prof: Valuing ‘emotion as knowledge’ fights ‘white identity.’ When taxpayers get tired of funding this stuff, we’ll be told it’s because of anti-intellectualism. But now taxpayers can just tell us they’re valuing their emotions as knowledge.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Profs blame ‘masculine’ ideals for lack of women in STEM. “According to the professors, these masculine norms include ‘asking good questions,’ ‘capacity for abstract thought and rational thought processes,’ ‘motivation,’ ‘independent’ thinking, and a relatively low fear of failure.”

Remember, when taxpayers get tired of funding this stuff, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

WHEN TAXPAYERS GET TIRED OF SUPPORTING THIS NONSENSE, WE’LL BE TOLD IT’S BECAUSE OF “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM:” ‘White-Informed Civility’ Is the Latest Target in the Campus Wars: The rules of collegiate debate are also coming under attack as racist and patriarchal.

WHEN TAXPAYERS GET TIRED OF FUNDING THIS STUFF, WE’LL BE TOLD IT’S BECAUSE OF “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM:” Professors claim farmers’ markets cultivate racism: ‘Habits of white people are normalized.’

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Prof urges ‘abolition of white democracy’ during lecture. Remember, when taxpayers get tired of funding this sort of thing, it will be blamed on “anti-intellectualism.”

WHEN TAXPAYERS GET TIRED OF FUNDING THIS KIND OF THING, WE’LL HEAR THAT IT’S BECAUSE OF “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM:” Prof: Academic rigor reinforces ‘power and privilege.’ Worse yet, she’s in engineering. At Purdue.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Grad student who showed debate on gender-neutral pronouns: My class was canceled with no explanation.

“I wonder if my mere presence is simply too triggering now.”

That’s how graduate student Lindsay Shepherd, who caused an uproar at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University by showing undergraduates a gender-neutral pronoun debate, makes sense of the unexplained cancellation of her department-wide class this week.

As she has become a campus celebrity among defenders of free speech, Shepherd has taken to Twitter to joust with critics who call her a white supremacist and threat to students who do not identify with their birth sex.

Wilfrid Laurier’s critics are calling on the school to reckon with its speech codes – under which Shepherd faced possible discipline – as the university launches a task force on freedom of expression.

When taxpayers tire of funding this sort of thing, it’ll be blamed on “anti-intellectualism.”

THEY TOLD ME IF TRUMP WERE ELECTED WE’D SEE A RESURGENCE OF OPEN RACISM. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Student op-ed calls white people ‘an abomination.’

Texas State University’s student newspaper published an op-ed Tuesday telling “white people” that “your DNA is an abomination.”

“When I think of all the white people I’ve ever encountered—whether they’ve been professors, peers, lovers, friends, police officers, et cetera—there is perhaps only a dozen I would consider ‘decent,’” student columnist Rudy Martinez begins the op-ed, which The University Star has not posted on its website.

The piece documents Martinez’s personal opinion of “whiteness” and “white people,” which he defines to include anyone who is “a descendant of those Europeans who chose to abandon their identity in search of something ‘new’—stolen land.”

When taxpayers get tired of funding higher education, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Report: Having ‘white nuclear family’ promotes white supremacy, says New York professor.

Remember, when people get tired of funding this stuff, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

Related:

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Miami art professor turns American flags into KKK hoods causing outrage. “Billie Grace Lynn, a University of Miami associate professor of sculpture, calls it ‘American Mask,’ a work, she writes on her personal site, that suggests ‘bigotry and racism are hiding behind our flag.'” Well, with this project she’s right, but not in the way she thinks.

When taxpayers cut funding for higher ed, we’ll be told it’s because of “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Purge: Scott Yenor and the Witch Hunt at Boise State: A political science professor at Boise State writes a piece about transgenderism and the university tries to tie him to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

When funding for these institutions is slashed due to plummeting public support — and it will be — they’ll blame “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: University of Montana Dean Worried About ‘the Risk of Offending Students,’ Dis-Invites Conservative Speaker. God forbid they should be offended by hearing a view they disagree with.

But when funding for these institutions is cut, they’ll blame “anti-intellectualism.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEFTIST AUTOPHAGY EDITION: Professors warn academic intolerance for dissenting views is reaching new highs. But when taxpayers lose patience and won’t fund it, academics will blame “anti-intellectualism.”

ROBBY SOAVE: If You Think Trump Is a Fascist, You Should Oppose Gun Control.

Following the unfathomably tragic events in Las Vegas, many on the left are demanding that Congress pass new restrictions on guns. Such calls make even less sense than usual, given what much of the left already believes about the current political environment: that a fascist occupies the White House.

“Yes, Donald Trump is a fascist,” wrote The New Republic’s Jamil Smith. He said that in 2015, when Trump was still merely a primary challenger; associating Trump with fascism has grown only more common in the two years since.

“This is how fascism comes to America,” wrote Robert Kagan, a former Republican, in a Washington Post piece widely shared last year on both the left and the NeverTrump right: “not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac ‘tapping into’ popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party—out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear—falling into line behind him.”

“Trump’s not Hitler,” wrote Salon’s Fedja Buric in 2016. But that was only because: “He’s Mussolini.” Buric’s article is about “How GOP anti-intellectualism created a modern fascist movement in America.”

The Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson held out until Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, at which point he declared, “at a certain point, ‘fascist’ becomes the most accurate term to describe what this man does….’Fascist’ is not an incendiary slur—it is an accurate description.”

Those are high-profile writers; grassroots activists have been less measured. The antifa movement, which for some reason thinks smashing windows and setting cars on fire is an effective form of resistance, regularly claims that Trump is a modern incarnation of Nazism. Left-leaning students and professors frequently accuse Trump of fascism; some have even maintained that members of Trump’s Cabinet, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are white supremacists by mere association. . . .

Which brings us back to gun control, something countless liberal pundits and Democratic congresspeople are breathlessly demanding right now. How on earth could anyone believe both that Trump is a fascist and that it’s a good idea for a federal government he runs to take guns away from law-abiding citizens? If Trump is a budding Mussolini—let alone something worse—then you shouldn’t want to give him the power required to wage a war on guns.

You’d think.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, UMN EDITION: A campus conservative’s year facing anger, doxing, and intimidation. “As the protests grew, so did violent threats against the College Republicans and Madison, in particular. The group’s members were scared for their safety on campus. Madison and the rest of the executive board didn’t go out at night and tried to never be alone on campus. Many used campus security to walk home. Rather than condemning vandalism and standing up for the First Amendment right of freedom of speech, many supposed adults in the administration instead lashed out at the College Republicans.”

And higher ed folks think the decline in public support is because the American public suffers from “anti-intellectualism.”

CONSIDERING THE SOURCE, THIS SOUNDS LIKE PROJECTION TO ME: “Americans reject the advice of experts to insulate their fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong.”

It was experts that gave us the financial crisis, it was experts that gave us the Middle East meltdown, it was experts who gave us the obesity epidemic and the opioid crisis. And yet the experts pay no price for their failures, and cling bitterly to their credentials and self-esteem, while claiming that the problem lies in the anti-intellectualism of ordinary citizens.

UPDATE: These lines of David Mamet’s from The Verdict say it well. “You guys, you’re all the same. The doctors at the hospital, you, it’s always what I’m gonna do for you. And then you screw up and it’s ‘Uh, we did the best that we could, I’m dreadfully sorry.’ And people like us live with your mistakes.”

NO LESSONS LEARNED: Campus Intolerance Intensifies in the Trump Era.

Panelists raised, implicitly, the question whether higher education has become out of touch with Donald Trump’s America. They fretted over their belief that the current social and political climate is a threat to the liberal arts and, in a time of “fake news,” to the pursuit of truth itself.

The Association’s president, Lynn Pasquerella, concluded that it is the average American—giving in to the alleged anti-intellectualism of the day—who is misguided.

Higher education leaders, she argued, must therefore work to “destabilize the attitudes at the basis of proposals that devalue education.”

While there were some speakers who called for tolerance and understanding—including Wesleyan University president Michael Roth, who advocated greater respect for “traditional conservative religion and thought”—they were a mere footnote during the four-day gathering.

Rather, workshops such as “Reclaiming the Racial Narrative,” case studies on implementing progressive agendas on campus, and strategies on how to engage students in support of “racial and social justice” dominated the conference’s agenda.

Unfortunately, in these early days of Trump’s presidency, similar politicization seems to persist throughout much of academia. Many leftist students, faculty, and administrators pay only lip service to the notion that higher education should be a marketplace of ideas. They now seem to view themselves as combatants in an ideological war.

Well, that’s just more of the Gramscian Damage. But if you want more Trump, by all means double down. Because that’s how you get more Trump.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Academia Is Losing Its Mind.

It’s not just right-wing populists who are worried that some academic humanities and social science fields are veering into irrelevance. The latest issue of the left-of-center magazine American Prospect has a depressing report by the leftist Occidental professor Peter Dreier on his experience submitting a bogus paper to a humanities conference and getting it accepted. . . .

Here’s one representative sentence: “Self-delusion and self-discipline inhibits the reflective self, the postmodern membrane, the ecclesiastical impulse forbidden by truth-seeking and sun worship, problematizing the inchoate structures of both reason and darkness, allowing knowledge, half-knowledge, and knowledgelessness to undermine and yet simultaneously overcome the self-loathing that overwhelms the Gnostic challenge facing Biblical scribes, folksingers, and hip-hop rappers alike.” He also includes examples of the type of real humanities work that led him to undertake this experiment (he saw sentences elsewhere like: “Given the attitudes generated by our sense of a place, critical perspectives that only target overt structures within city systems are incomplete” and “Theoretical, conceptual and methodological choices must be framed in relation to concrete explanatory and interpretive dilemmas, not ontological foundations.”)

To make matters worse, most of this “postmodern” analysis is taking place within the context of a hermetically sealed political bubble. As our friends at Heterodox Academy have pointed out, just four percent of American academics in the humanities identify as conservative. This total homogeneity may be one reason that so much work in the humanities has become utterly disconnected from what the general public might consider to be valuable scholarly exploration.

There is a good amount of anti-intellectualism and old-fashioned score-settling involved in attacks on the academy by right-wing pundits and populist politicians. But that reaction didn’t come out of nowhere. At a time when tuition and student debt are reaching crisis levels, the public is right to demand that the work it is funding (both directly, at public universities, and indirectly, at private universities, by subsidizing student loans) has some bearing on reality and some benefit to the rest of society.

Indeed.

TODAY’S COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE AN “EXPECTATION OF CONFIRMATION”: Have college students gone from believing they have a “right not to be offended” to demanding they have a right to have their views confirmed? I explore this idea in my new essay in the newly published The State of the American Mind: 16 Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism, a collection of essays by a variety of cultural and educational experts edited by Mark Bauerlein and Adam Bellow. The essays are framed by Bauerlein and Bellow’s theories on the root causes of the decline of the American intellect and “the shift away from the self-reliant, well-informed American.” Some of my fellow authors include E. D. Hirsch, Nicholas Eberstadt, Dennis Prager, Daniel Dreisbach, Ilya Somin, Maggie Jackson, and Richard Arum. Read more about it over at Ricochet.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Red Higher Ed Reforms Put Pressure on Carolina Blue.

A right-leaning public policy foundation is making waves in North Carolina’s public university system. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on how the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is getting traction among the state’s Republican political leadership. The Center, the Chronicle tells us, aims to “[make] public colleges more accountable to the public, by holding them to their ‘chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching’” and many believe its stances have influenced legislative proposals as well as the Board of Governors of the state’s university system, largely appointed by the GOP. . . .

The Center’s work and influence can be seen as part of a trend: red states are beginning to lean forward on their skis in dealing with universities—institutions that have historically been bastions of Democratic and left-wing ideas. With higher ed costs rising inexorably, many conservative state representatives are likely wondering just why the state is offering tenured professorships in Transgressive Gender Studies with lots of time for ‘research’, and they are becoming more aggressive in trying to shake-up the higher ed system.

There is a lot of anti-intellectualism mixed up in all of this, in addition to some good old fashioned score settling. But there’s also a lot that’s right. Costs really are rising unsustainably, and many administrative bureaucracies have lost touch with common sense—to say nothing of being economically useless administrative make work bailiwicks. Moreover, a number of disciplines are so dominated by one political point of view that they look more like PACs and NGOs than like assemblies of disputatious scholars.

Which is why complaints that reforms are politically motivated are so transparently self-serving. And why all is proceeding as I have foreseen.

DEREK LOWE EMAILS:

I get the impression, from reader notes you’ve published and from other sources, that the Republican party is going to be doing some re-evaluating after the Romney loss. As it should. But I worry about a couple of ways that this might play out. Every time an organized group takes a defeat like this, there are two factions that spring up – one that says “We Clearly Have to Change Something Fundamental”, and the other saying “We’re On the Right Track; We Just Didn’t Do It Hard Enough”. I think we’re already seeing this split in action.

And it doesn’t have to break up the party; this sort of thing goes on all the time without creating permanent factions. But it could. I’ve been concerned for some time about the direction the Republicans have been trending. Is it controversial to say that this season’s crop of primary candidates was a deeply unimpressive bunch? The likes of Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are totally unappealing to me – I suppose my problem is that I’ve never been much of a social conservative. I believe in personal responsibility, fiscal prudence, a strong defense, and economic growth. I think America is a great country. But I’m not religious, and my political beliefs don’t rest on a religious foundation. Gay marriage (to pick one example) doesn’t bother me much. I did, though, find the various bizarre comments about rape from Republican candidates to be stupid and offensive, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they helped to cost enough potential Republican votes to sway the election.

So where does someone like me turn? I find a lot to dislike in Obama’s policies, on both the practical and philosophical level, and I can’t picture myself voting for him. But I can’t picture myself voting for someone like Rick Santorum, either, or a Sarah Palin, or a Mike Huckabee, just to pick some well-known types. I’m sure that there are people out there who think that if we could just get some more candidates like these, that enough people would flock to their banner. I don’t see it happening; too many voters find something “off” about them. The streak of anti-intellectualism in the Republican party is in danger of making it a caricature of itself, and such a party would leave a lot of potential voters shaking their heads in the polling booth. I’d be one of them.

Feel free to quote as much or as little of this as you wish; I don’t mind having my name attached, either.

Well, I think Sarah Palin gets a bum rap — she was pretty libertarian, and gay-friendly for that matter, as governor — but I agree both that the crop of candidates wasn’t that impressive, and that the social-conservative stuff turns a lot of people off, especially because they’ve been conditioned to think of social-cons as the preacher from Footloose. I think that’s a bit unfair; I used to have the same icky reaction to social-cons, but since then I’ve gotten to, you know, actually know some and now I don’t find them so scary even though I disagree with them on lots of stuff. But that sort of one-on-one interaction doesn’t scale well.

I think that a more libertarian message sells better — and nobody thinks libertarians are like the preacher from Footloose — but, then, I’m a libertarian.

UPDATE: Related: Operation Deep Blue. Plus, some thoughts from Bill Quick.

IN THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Rick Santorum is Right About Higher Ed. “I am not enchanted with Santorum’s tone in these matters, but his points warrant more serious attention than academics are likely to give them. His statements are not just howls of anti-intellectualism or attempts to play to Tea Party resentments. They are part of a cogent view that accurately registers aspects of the dominant campus culture that academics themselves are disinclined to acknowledge, let alone discuss.”

UPDATE: More thoughts from Steve Hayward.

FRANK J. FLEMING: Anti-Intellectualism:

The main problem may be confusing “simple” with “dumb.”

If something is simple, then dumb people will believe it. And if dumb people believe something, then soon some conclude that smart people should believe something else. There’s a flaw in that philosophy.

Why shouldn’t you touch a hot stove? There’s no complex, smart answer to that. You’ll get roughly the same answer from Stephen Hawking that you’d get from Forrest Gump: It’s hot, and it will hurt.

But say you were going to argue that you should touch a hot stove. That would have to be a very complex answer, since it defies basic logic. And some people could run with that, talking in detail about pain receptors and the brain’s reaction to stimulus, and come up with a very smart-sounding argument on why touching a hot stove is a great idea.

Others will go further and mock all those ignorant people in the flyover states for their irrational fear of hot stoves and announce, “The most enlightened thing to do is to press one’s face against a hot stove.” Those people are what we call intellectuals.

Similarly, when someone comes up with a well-reasoned argument backed by top economists that two plus two equals five, there’s no brilliant way to refute it. The only response is: “No, you’re an idiot; it’s four.” But if you say that, you’ll be called anti-smart people.

Well, when the wave of anti-intellectualism sweeps America, Frank’s probably safe.

SHIKHA DALMIA: Why Smart Presidents Do Stupid Things.

The most depressing spectacle on the political landscape right now (besides a potential second term for Barack Obama) is the party of Lincoln entertaining the presidential ambitions of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann—women with better hairdos than heads. One needn’t be a GOP-hater like Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd to be dismayed by the growing anti-intellectualism of the party. Even David Brooks, a conservative commentator, has observed that Republican disdain for liberal intellectuals has morphed into a disdain for all intellectuals.

But modern intellectuals, having abandoned honest inquiry for unabashed activism, must themselves bear some blame for the backlash.

Two thoughts. First: Even David Brooks? Really? Second: Intellectualism, in today’s society, isn’t about intellect. It’s just a pose, like hipsterism or faux-redneckism. Most of those people who self-identify as intellectuals aren’t especially bright, they’ve just adopted a lifestyle that’s littered with what they think are markers of intelligence. But read the whole thing. And I think that this is right: “So why do intelligent people consistently make such a hash of things? Because they are smart enough to talk themselves into anything. Ordinary mortals don’t engage in fancy mental gymnastics to reach conclusions that defy common sense. But intellectuals are particularly prone to this.”

UPDATE: But who will defend David Brooks?

PERHAPS THE PROBLEM IS WITH THE INTELLECTUALS, NOT THE GEEKS: Larry Sanger: Is There A New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

A DEFENSE OF “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM:”

Part of the problem is that the American distrust of intellectualism is itself not the irrational thing that those sympathetic to intellectuals would like to think. Intellectuals killed by the millions in the 20th century, and it actually takes the sophisticated training of “education” to work yourself up into a state where you refuse to count that in the books. Intellectuals routinely declared things that aren’t true; catastrophically wrong predictions about the economy, catastrophically wrong pronouncements about foreign policy, and just generally numerous times where they’ve been wrong. Again, it takes a lot of training to ignore this fact. “Scientists” collectively were witnessed by the public flipflopping at a relatively high frequency on numerous topics; how many times did eggs go back and forth between being deadly and beneficial? Sure the media gets some blame here but the scientists played into it, each time confidently pronouncing that this time they had it for sure and it is imperative that everyone live the way they are saying (until tomorrow). Scientists have failed to resist politicization across the board, and the standards of what constitutes science continues to shift from a living, vibrant, thoughtful understanding of the purposes and ways of science to a scelerotic hide-bound form-over-substance version of science where papers are too often written to either explicitly attract grants or to confirm someone’s political beliefs… and regardless of whether this is 2% or 80% of the papers written today it’s nearly 100% of the papers that people hear about.

I simplify for rhetorical effect; my point is not that this is a literal description of the current state of the world but that it is far more true than it should be. Any accounting of “anti-intellectualism” that fails to take this into account and lays all the blame on “Americans” is too incomplete to formulate an action plan that will have any chance of success. It’s not a one-sided problem.

If you want to fix anti-intellectualism, you first need to fix intellectualism and return it to its roots of dispassionate exploration, commitment to truth over all else and bending processes to find truth rather than bending truth to fit (politicized) processes.

(Thanks to reader Jonathan Stafford for the link.) This is much like what Neal Stephenson said in In The Beginning Was The Command Line:

The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir. . . . We Americans are the only ones who didn’t get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals.

Indeed.

UPDATE: It seems I have the above Stephenson quote wrong. A reader emails:

You’ve several times quoted Stephenson as writing:

“The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir. . . . We Americans are the only ones who didn’t get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals.”

But every copy of “In the Beginning was the Command Line” I’ve been able to find does not contain this quote anywhere. I fact, the phrase “state power” does not appear anywhere in the text, not even once.

Following the link you provide (to Amazon.com), and using their ‘look inside the book feature’ turns up the following, and it’s the same in every version I’ve examined:

“But more importantly, it comes out of the fact that, during this century, intellectualism failed, and everyone knows it. In places like Russia and Germany, the common people agreed to loosen their grip on traditional folkways, mores, and religion, and let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abbatoir. Those wordy intellectuals used to be merely tedious; now they seem kind of dangerous as well.

We Americans are the only ones who didn’t get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and values systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals, and with anything like intellectualism, even to the point of not reading books any more, though we are literate. We seem much more comfortable with propagating those values to future generations nonverbally, through a process of being steeped in media.”

I’m confident you’ll want to correct this error, as it seems somewhere along the line someone’s twisted Stephenson’s words somewhat, and accuracy in quotations and references are important.

My copy of Command Line is at the office, but looking inside the book on Amazon this seems to be right. Further research reveals that the opening bit about state power is an introductory phrase from a law review article that somehow got put inside the quote, which is probably my error, though since I originally posted this in 2002, I’m not positive where I got it from then. But I’ll go back and correct the earlier posts as well. I don’t think the sense of the quote is wrong, but nonetheless I apologize for the error, and thank the reader (whose name isn’t in his/her email address) for the correction. To err is human, but to be corrected by anonymous readers is blogging!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Santiago Valenzuela writes:

Thoughtful article, but I am always disturbed by conservative anti-intellectualism.

Particularly, what disturbs me, is that it equivocates intellectualism per se with a specific species of intellectualism (statism of various stripes.) Why have conservatives ceded the title of intellectual to their opponents, instead confidently putting their faith in their gut instincts, “common sense,” and other decidedly “non-intellectual” ways of deciding? While it may be superior to statism in this case, it doesn’t make it good.

So why not instead say “These intellectuals have failed. Our intellectuals have a better grasp of reality and how men must live in it”? Why a rejection of intellectualism per se? It troubles me, because I have a profound respect for rational thought and a systematic approach to the troubles humanity faces, and seeing people mock that because one crop of intellectuals chose their theoretical models over reality can’t bode well.

Well, anti-intellectualism can mean two things. One is opposition to intellectualism, but the other is opposition to self-described “intellectuals” — who, often as not, are more credentialed than educated, and frequently not particularly intellectual at all except in mannerisms and self-description. We should, I think, be more explicit about distinguishing between intellectuals, and activists who mimic the mannerisms of intellectuals.

MORE: Hanah Volokh emails:

I found your recent blog post on anti-intellectualism interesting, particularly the last comments from Santiago Valenzuela and your response to them. I also find conservative anti-intellectualism troubling, and I think it’s important to separate it into three separate points:

1. Left-wing intellectuals are wrong substantively.

2. Many people who claim to be intellectuals are actually not intellectuals at all, but activists.

3. Central planning is not the best way to run a government or economy, so intellectuals do not need to be running things.

Still, to understand why central planning is a bad idea, and what we should have instead, and to get at the answers to numerous substantive policy issues, intellectuals are crucially important.

You may also be interested in this recent Stanley Fish column that attempts to describe academic intellectualism to laymen. It is particularly helpful at identifying the difference between an intellectual and an activist (full disclosure: I was an attendee at the conference he describes).

Thanks!

LAW AND THE PEOPLE: Reader Dennis Dezendorf writes:

I read your blog every day, as do thousands of other people. Thanks for your thought snd the effort you put into it.

I was reading your post about Law School 4.0 and was intrigued by the idea that there is discussion in some circles about the way that attorneys are trained. I think the discussion is long overdue.

I’ve been a cop for thirty years and have spent a tremendous amount of time in court. I’ve known great lawyers and lousy ones and I toyed at one time with the idea of going to law school. It was impossible for a number of reasons, but the main barriers to entry are:

Accessibility. I live in Louisiana and going to law school means moving to Baton Rouge or New Orleans. There aren’t any law schools in central or north Louisiana.

Cost. Law school is expensive, though not exorbitantly more expensive than graduate school. However, when I was researcing law schools (and th is may have changed in the past decade), law school required the student to be unemployed for at least the first year. Families require sustenance and going to law school full-time demands sacrifies from the family that might not be overcome for a long time.

I went to graduate school at nights. My family was young and I was able to juggle a fairly rigorous academic load while taking care of my obligations. My family was aware that Daddy was studying, but they didn’t suffer. Any reasonably intelligent person can enroll in graduate programs in business, the clergy, education, or any number of other disciplines and attain their education on a night-school basis.

Of course, if the mission of a law school is to maintain the income and status of the faculty, you need do nothing.

Thanks again for all your writings.

Well, as the pressure mounts to end night law programs, it sounds like the public-service ideal is fading. In fact, there’s a good argument that changes in the educational system in general tend to favor the children of those who are already high up on the occupational ladder. This somehow made me think of Ross Douthat’s column on Race, Class, Gender, and Sarah Palin:

If Palin were exactly what her critics believe she is — the distillation of every right-wing pathology, from anti-intellectualism to apocalyptic Christianity — then she wouldn’t be a terribly interesting figure. But this caricature has always missed the point of the Alaska governor’s appeal — one that extends well outside the Republican Party’s shrinking base.

In a recent Pew poll, 44 percent of Americans regarded Palin unfavorably. But slightly more had a favorable impression of her. That number included 46 percent of independents, and 48 percent of Americans without a college education.

That last statistic is a crucial one. Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard. . . .

Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. (And no, gentle reader, Palin did not insist on abstinence-only sex education, slash funds for special-needs children or inject creationism into public schools.)

Male commentators will attack you for parading your children. Female commentators will attack you for not staying home with them. You’ll be sneered at for how you talk and how many colleges you attended. You’ll endure gibes about your “slutty” looks and your “white trash concupiscence,” while a prominent female academic declares that your “greatest hypocrisy” is the “pretense” that you’re a woman. And eight months after the election, the professionals who pressed you into the service of a gimmicky, dreary, idea-free campaign will still be blaming you for their defeat.

All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.

Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.

But her unhappy sojourn on the national stage has had a different moral: Don’t even think about it.

What Joel Kotkin calls “the Gentry Faction” has taken over the Democrats completely. Wherever they dominate, you see a lot of talk about equality — and a lot of effort at maintaining inequality and keeping the proles in their place. There are plenty of Gentry in the Republican party, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a populist backlash arise, on either the left, or the right, or both, or somewhere in between.

A SHOCKER: Anti-war Soros funded Iraq study. Say it ain’t so!

UPDATE: More thoughts here: “This is an academic scandal, insofar as these institutions have lent their brand equity to what is essentially a fraud on the public. Fortunately, they are all so well-established that they can afford for George Soros to dissipate a tiny bit of their reputation. But — and this is important — let us not hear complaints from any of these institutions about ‘anti-intellectualism in American life.’ Americans do not trust our pointy-headed institutions of higher learning in matters of public policy for very good reason.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Art Fougner, M.D., emails:

The reputation of an outstanding medical journal ( The Lancet is more highly regarded than the New
England Journal of Medicine.) has been permanently sullied. The editors should be sacked. And they complain when a drug detail man buys lunch for a doctor’s office. My God!

This goes beyond lunch.

REVEALING COMMENTS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES:

For a certain segment of the population, Nascar’s raid on American culture — its logo festoons everything from cellphones to honey jars to post office walls to panties; race coverage, it can seem, has bumped everything else off television; and, most piercingly, Nascar dads now get to pick our presidents — triggers the kind of fearful trembling the citizens of Gaul felt as the Huns came thundering over the hills. To these people, stock-car racing represents all that’s unsavory about red-state America: fossil-fuel bingeing; lust for violence; racial segregation; run-away Republicanism; anti-intellectualism (how much brain matter is required to go fast and turn left, ad infinitum?); the corn-pone memes of God and guns and guts; crass corporatization; Toby Keith anthems; and, of course, exquisitely bad fashion sense. What’s more, they simply don’t get it. What’s the appeal of watching . . . traffic? It’s as if ”Hee Haw” reruns were dominating prime time, and the Republic was slapping its collective knee at Grandpa Jones’s ”What’s for supper?” routine. With Nascar’s recent purchase of a swath of real estate on Staten Island, where it intends to plop down an 80,000-seat racetrack and retail center for the untapped New York City market, the onslaught seems poised on the brink of full-out conquest. Cover your ears, blue America. The Huns are revving their engines.

As a reader suggests, “Replace ‘NASCAR’ with ‘Hip-hop,’ and then ask yourself whether this would have run in the Times.” Certainly the editors would have objected to the condescension and stereotyping that run throughout.

On the other hand, perhaps this NASCAR stuff has gone a bit too far. . .

UPDATE: My race-car-driving brother notes that if you want real diversity, you should forget NASCAR and check out drag racing. Note the very cool photos. Meanwhile, reader Tom Carter emails:

Wow – what an article. Jonathan Miles has it all wrong. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that a contributing writer for what is typically held as a good paper would fall into such blantant prejudices. Once again this smacks of the “blues” having a free pass at throwing stones. I wonder if Miles has ever been to a NASCAR function or even driven a stock car.

“The cars the drivers pilot — modified Chevy Monte Carlos, Ford Tauruses, Pontiac Grand Prix — are not so different from the cars Nascar fans use daily to pick up their groceries, shuttle their kids and get themselves to work.”

Statements like that are just an indicator that this man has absolutey no idea of what he’s writing about, and this just fuels the granishing disatisfaction with traditional media and their inability to effectively research their material.

Yeah. There’s not much overlap between a NASCAR “stock” car and the actual stock vehicle of the same name, and hasn’t been in ages.

I don’t mind these articles in which the Times tries to explain red states to its readership (and unlike my brother, I don’t care much for racing as a spectator sport) but I’d like them to do a better, and less-condescending, job of it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: SSgt J.P. Dawson emails:

Hey InstaDude,

In the Air Force (I’m active duty) I encounter a small group of hip-hop fans and a couple of Nascar fans every night at work on the midnight shift. There are conversations about Jay-Z and Nelly, as well as Dale, Jr. and Jeff Gordon. I tease both crowds, as we all tease each other about something. My New Yawk accent and thinning hair are the targets for them.

I’d never be so condescending of either group. Perhaps those of us in the military are just much more tolerant than the staff at the NY Times.

I think so, actually.

MATT WELCH RESPONDS to claims that America is facing a tide of anti-intellectualism. Excerpt:

But I suspect that, to the contrary, Noam Chomsky’s never had a wider audience. It’s just that many of his new readers don’t agree with him, and aren’t shy about saying so, despite his “five decades” of comment compared to their five months. I would go as far as suggesting that what we are witnessing is a further democratization of political/intellectual debate, rather than some kind of grunting Cossack putsch.

Indeed. But I think that that may be what’s really bothering some people.