Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

The Slow Public Response


Thank you, Candace, for linking to David Horowitz’s WorldNetDaily Interview.  I have also been struck by the slow response of the conservative masses to the very real excesses of the leftist-dominated academy.  After spending quite a bit of time speaking in churches, conferences, civic gatherings and other places here in “flyover country,” I’ve noted a few common reasons why conservatives have focused so much of their energy elsewhere.   1.  They look at cases, not causes.  When faced with academic controversy, the public often focuses on the case itself rather than the conditions that created the case.  The Ward Churchills of the world cannot be hired (much less promoted) in the absence of such overwhelming ideological uniformity that radical politics trumps all else, including integrity and competence.    2.  They’re incredulous. Frankly, many conservatives have trouble believing the reporting.  The cases are just too outrageous.  Or, even if believed, they are so outrageous that they are viewed as outlying aberrations rather than symptoms of a larger disease.   3.  The job is too tough.  Frankly, it is easier to counteract media bias by starting a radio program, creating a blog, or even launching a TV network than it is to challenge academic bias by changing the university culture.  The academic left is far more entrenched and real competition far more costly to create.  For the cost of creating a single competitive university, the conservative movement could fund a cable channel, a nationwide radio network, several websites as sophisticated as the best MSM sites, and still have tens of millions of dollars left over.  To have a realistic chance of changing the academy, we have to transform it from within.  In other words (to compare it to the battle over media bias), we can’t just create Fox News, we have to change ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Newsweek, and Time.   4.  They don’t understand academia’s importance.  David Horowitz hits the nail on the head.  The true intellectual source of the vast majority of the anti-American, anti-family, anti-religious, pro-terrorist poison that is seeping into our culture is the modern academy.  While the media is populated by quite a few intelligent individuals, most don’t have the kind of sustained intellectual horsepower (or the time) to systematically challenge every single aspect of traditional American culture.  Professors do.   5.  They’re intimidated.  Most members of the public have considerable respect for academics and defer to their perceived intellect (It’s always sad to watch otherwise confident state legislators wilt when challenged by a single well-spoken professor).  Yet one only has to read some of the truly bizarre off-topic rants coming from the academy — where English profs feel free to opine about geopolitics and Anthropology lecturers speak authoritatively about global warming — to see that so often the emperor has no clothes.  Professors have coasted for too long on the reputations of their institutions and good will that is centuries old (and sadly out of date).  They can and should be challenged.


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