Saturday, October 15, 2005

Liberals On Campus


I know you're all crying about Times Select preventing you from reading John Tierney... that is, the little you can't glean from the headline for his column and his first sentence....

He recently wrote a rather incredible piece entitled "Where Cronies Dwell", which whines that it isn't fair that people accuse Bush of hiring cronies while not objecting to the faculty search process at law schools and journalism schools. Apparently he read a David Horowitz screed about the ratios of registered Democrats to Republicans at a handful of elite schools, accepted Horowitz's notion that "Democrat = Liberal" and "Republican = Conservative", ignored any faculty who did not register for either of the major parties (or did not register at all), and concocted "liberal to conservative" ratios based upon that childish analysis. Yes, folks, when Zell Miller taught at the University of Georgia, Tierney and Horowitz would have us believe that the faculty became more liberal.

Needless to say, neither Horowitz nor Tierney paid any heed to the fact that if Bush followed a search process similar to a typical faculty search, he would not have been able to hire the parade of fools he has appointed to important positions, let alone hit the 100% mark in preferred party affiliation. The Bush Administration is unabashed in pressing for Republican-only hiring policies on K Street, and from what I hear even within the lower levels of civil service (where party affiliation is not supposed to be considered). Although in some fields, or with some applicants, ideology may well be suggested by past published works, in many fields of law or journalism there won't be anything obvious about a prospective faculty member's publications which suggests a party affiliation - and the search committee can't ask. Tierney really thinks that there is a parallel?

For some reason - and one can hardly guess why - Tierney and Horowitz also present no estimates of the ratio of "liberals" to "conservatives" at top engineering schools or business schools. (They also don't complain about a lack of conservative professors at top schools of social work... I can only imagine how may hardcore conservatives are clamoring to get faculty appointments, and how many novitiate social workers are traumatized by the left-wing bent of their faculties.) You know what? Different academic fields attract different types of people, often offering them significantly less money than they could otherwise earn, and rewards specific types of thinking and analysis. If you are surprised that certain fields attract disproportionate numbers of "liberals" and others attract disproportionate numbers of "conservatives", you haven't been thinking very hard.

And despite the experience of crybabies like Ann Coulter, I don't recall that the even the most stauch conservatives in my law school class feared retalation, and many were very outspoken in class. I looked up what a couple of them, the most obvious and outspoken of the conservatives in my section, are doing today... One is a partner with a large law firm, and another is a VP and general counsel with a Fortune 30 company. Oh, how they suffer. As for Tierney's suggestion that "more than 80 percent" of the nation's press corp is Democratic, that does not appear to be even close to true:
Another highly regarded study, the 2002 American Journalist Survey, found that 37 percent of journalists called themselves Democrats (just a few points above the proportion of Democrats in the general population), 18.6 percent said they were Republicans, and 33.5 percent were independents.
Does this mean that in TierneyWorld, if you're not a Republican you must be a Democrat? He seems to have lost his center.

Today, Tierney's follow-up offers the teaser: "Liberals on campus have become so used to hearing their opinions reinforced that they have a hard time imagining there are intelligent people with different views." Oh, I doubt that. But if Tierney's logic is supposed to pass for an example of what Liberals fail to find persuasive... that's nobody's fault but his own.

Tierney whines that the number of "liberal" faculty members, presumably based upon the child-like analysis he cribbed from Horowitz, is increasing. Well, you know what? The ratio of conservatives on the nations courts, particularly the federal courts, seems to be increasing faster. Although Tierney has yet to identify a single qualified conservative who was unable to obtain an appointment to an elite law school or journalism school, he is offended by the concept that such discrimination might occur. (Tierney instead resorts to the standard evasion, "many conservatives do want to become scholars, but they can't find work on campus" - many? How many? How qualified are they? How many faculty jobs have they attempted to obtain? How did they compare to the people who got the jobs? While I would not contend that "Righties Can't Teach", it is somewhat amusing to note that in asking "Why Righties Can't Teach" Tierney fails to distinguish opportunity from ability.) The real world? I guess Tierney is trying to impress us that he, himself, truly is an "academic" by observing the caricature that academics are stuck in the ivory tower, and are oblivious to the real world.

1 comment:

  1. He's clearly hinting at affirmative action for conservatives.

    ReplyDelete