PC-Free Universities?

by David French

Robert, I don’t think conservatives (especially those in the conservative academic freedom movement) believe that PC is curable or that any kind of university can be “PC-free.” We know and understand groupthink, including the reality that groupthink affects our own community and even our own thinking. At the same time, however, we know that individual minds can be changed and that our universities would benefit from having more than one form of orthodoxy represented in the classroom. If we can’t end PC, why not have our competing versions of political correctness engage each other in the academy? At the very least — and until we can begin to change the way universities hire and fire — we seek to puncture any notion that the university’s ideological orthodoxy by itself discredits dissenting ideas.

I enjoyed your previous post about hiring truth-seekers rather than chasing ideological balance. Yet I don’t know many conservatives who truly seek ideological affirmative action. The goal is to end discrimination, to end the practice of using ideology as a substitute for merit, not to give conservatives bonus points for their conservatism. I like your concept of truth-seeking, and such a world would never elevate the likes of a Ward Churchill to the ranks of department chair at a premier state university, but so long as the university remains a one-party state, it will be difficult to even define what “truth-seeking” means. An actual truth-seeking university would inevitably become quite a bit more ideologically diverse as good faith inquiry leads scholars down different paths. But in the current university monoculture, all too many truths are deemed settled — including truths regarding religion, culture, war, peace, history, and policy — so what is there to seek?