The Right Coast

March 08, 2004
Word is out; it's time for us to shut up!
By Tom Smith

Let me be the first to say that when I joined the chorus of people complaining about discrimination against conservatives in academia, I had no idea that it would go on so long that Kevin Drum would get tired of it. (Via instapundit. And a post well worth reading.) But I am sure he can understand that it's very easy for this to happen. You're getting stepped on (just a metaphor! I don't mean to say that getting discriminated against in employment is anything nearly as bad as actually getting stepped on!), you complain, and next thing you know you have annoyed the person stepping on you. What is there to do except say, so very sorry, maybe I could polish your boots while I'm down here? And please feel free to use my head as a place to put your drink.

Herr Doktor Professor Drum suggests we "give some serious thought" as to why there aren't more conservatives in the academy. And do I have to go to my room and do it too, or is it OK if I stay downstairs and watch television during my time out?

But let me guess. There are so few conservatives in the academy because: conservatives are stupid compared to liberals, conservatives are evil compared to liberals, liberals need those jobs to save the world and finally, please shut up, you are starting to annoy me. That wasn't too hard! Have I missed anything?

It's easy to think like a self-satisfied liberal academic. All you have to do is decide what position is most in your own interests, puff yourself up with self-righteousness, posture as much more thoughtful and deeply informed than your rivals, put aside any remnants you may have of a temptation to consider both sides of an argument, and then gravely inform everyone that soon, very soon, you are going to stop listening to them as you have had just about enough.

Yet there is a serious question here. What explains the astonishing stupidity of the "arguments" that liberal academics make to justify the facially deplorable fact that academic fields that have a lot to do with politics, such as history, economics, political philosophy, political science and law, tend to be dominated by persons to the left of the political spectrum of the country as a whole? Let me offer a hypothesis. My explanation is that liberal academics are so used to talking only among themselves, so used to simply eliminating opposition in hiring committee decisions rather than in anything like open debates, so used to confusing pomposity with responsiveness, that they have forgotten how to make a convincing argument. They are like a bunch of confused, old aristocrats burbling on about why they should be only ones allowed to wear swords or whatever.

There are lots of things in this world that require "serious thought." The self-serving cant of liberal professors justifying discrimination against conservatives is not one of them.