Phi Beta Cons

Anti-Conservative Response

Here’s an article in a local Atlanta paper on intellectual diversity efforts in Georgia. It displays what is a familiar attitude, a condescending contempt for people who criticize the ideological climate of the campus.  Some examples:

ACROSS THE nation, there’s a deceptively named document called the “Academic Bill of Rights” that’s been surfacing in state legislatures — more than two dozen so far. We saw it here three years ago, when it was properly consigned to oblivion. But, like Dracula, this bit of corrosive legislation has arisen from its grave in the form of HB 154.


Enter Ruth Malhotra. She gained brief fame in the last year by suing Georgia Tech for enforcing rules that banned students from intolerant speech. The conservative graduate student was absolutely correct, when, as she told me, “There shouldn’t be rules protecting people from being offended.”
But Malhotra was one of the GOP props three years ago who testified about alleged abuse at the hands of a liberal professor. Malhotra wanted to skip class so she could go to Washington, D.C., and hang out with other right-wingers. Her professor apparently thought her priority should be class. Malhotra claimed discrimination – and asserts her case is justification for the McCarthyite HB 154.


Many, perhaps most, professors are Democrats and liberals. Maybe it’s because they’re smarter, and don’t buy the simplistic anti-intellectualism of Fox News. Whatever, affirmative action for intellectually impaired right-wing extremists isn’t a solution.


The ramifications could be serious to the quality of Georgia’s colleges; why would a professor who believes in the sacred tenant of “academic freedom” want to teach in a state where it doesn’t exist? “It will become very difficult to attract top scholars,” Bittner warns. “People will leave. The universities will be overwhelmed by the cost of enforcing the law, monitoring professors’ beliefs.” No doubt. We’d see “diversity” on campus, all right, as the Republicans demand that, for example, Bible-waving creationists be installed in biology departments.

I’m not sure of the best way to respond to the insult.  In open forums, with time to present evidence, one can easily refute these puerile judgments. But in the fast-paced worlds of journalism, and with an audience with very little awareness of the systemic biases of the curriculum and campus practices, I worry that these broadsides do their pernicious work.