Phi Beta Cons

Truth, Not Ideological Balance

As the academy grows more stridently left wing, conservatives respond with calls for ideological affirmative action — for schools to hire more right-thinking faculty so students encounter intellectual diversity. This is a seductively alluring scheme, and thanks to wealthy donors, it is proliferating.

It is an ill-advised and ultimately anti-intellectual strategy, even in the unlikely event that it succeeds. The academy can not be, nor should it be, an intellectual version of Noah’s Ark. Sadly, this conservative version of “inclusion” mimics the Left’s subordination of truth to ideology.

The quest should be about insisting that whatever professors teach, content should be truthful, whether this truth is liberal, conservative, reactionary, or Marxist, whether the subject in English or sociology. After all, who wants conservative falsehoods to “balance” radical dishonesty? It is fantasy to insist that if students learn at 9 a.m. that 2+2=3 and at 11 a.m., 2+2=5, they will eat lunch knowing that 2+2=4.

The hunt to hire truth-seekers changes everything. Out with the ideological litmus tests; in with character and temperament. If a Marxist job candidate argues that Africa is poor owing to colonial exploitation, the sharp rejoinder should be, “Can you prove this?” Ditto for the conservative job seeker who insists that only capitalist free markets can solve Africa’s poverty. 

Admittedly, abandoning ideological labels complicates life, and may even discourage donors from funding pet projects, but this is what the life of the mind is about.

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