November 19, 2004

Department of the Blindingly Obvious

Heh, you think?

Posted by Gregory at November 19, 2004 01:51 AM


Do you suppose we should study each profession this way and then institute government mandated affirmative action for the under-represented group?

What do you think the breakdown of corporate, M & A and securities attorneys would look like? How about military personnel? What about investment bankers? Corporate CEOs?

Why stop with academia? If this is a good theory in that field, perhaps we should begin requiring it in other fields of equal heft and importance.

But even within academia, why don't these studies ever focus on business schools? Do you think that most business school professors are leftists?

Should we also consider including views that are representative of Americans beyond the Republican/Democratic dichotomy? Should we mandate a certain number of professors be neo-Nazis since a certain number of Americans are? How about communists? What about flat-earthers in our science departments?

The real danger from such measures is that excellence in academic and scholarly pursuits would be subsumed to partisan beliefs. We would sacrifice much to achieve this bizarre sense of balance. The repercussions would be damaging. How much longer can America expect to maintain its position of dominance in the world of higher education if our standards departed from competence to political affiliation? Would we attract the best and the brightest, both among students and teachers, if our system were so turned on its head?

The truth of the matter is, there is a problem on campuses across the country, even if it is not of the magnitude that Horowitz and his ilk would have you believe. Professors are human beings, and as such, occasionally allow their personal beliefs to cloud their professional judgment. They are hardly the only group in society to fall victim to this, and thus it is flawed reasoning to target them. It is also disingenuous to suggest that there aren't mechanisms in place to curb the abuses and punish the behavior when it manifests.

I think freedom is worth fighting for, especially in the invaluable laboratory of ideas that our institutions of higher learning have become. In many ways, they are our ambassadors to the world, inviting emissaries from abroad to partake in our scholarly endeavors. The only way to insure our excellence is to continue hiring professors based on their scholarly merits, not some artificially imposed partisan criteria.

Posted by: Eric Martin at November 19, 2004 04:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On the subject, well written and well thought, I recommend the following article in "The Chronicle of Higher Education," November 12, 2004:

Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual



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