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Higher Education Watch
Academia Is Its Own Worst Enemy

The campaign for more intellectual diversity in higher education just got an eloquent and influential new champion: John Etchemendy, Stanford University’s provost from 2000 to 2017. In a recent speech to the elite university’s trustees, Etchemendy said that while many on campus perceive higher education to be under siege from right-wing populists, he believes that the greater danger is that academia destroys itself from the inside through its own stifling intellectual orthodoxies:

Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.

This results in a kind of intellectual blindness that will, in the long run, be more damaging to universities than cuts in federal funding or ill-conceived constraints on immigration. It will be more damaging because we won’t even see it: We will write off those with opposing views as evil or ignorant or stupid, rather than as interlocutors worthy of consideration. We succumb to the all-purpose ad hominem because it is easier and more comforting than rational argument. But when we do, we abandon what is great about this institution we serve.

Over the course of Etchemendy’s career, academia has indeed become more of a monoculture, with the overall ratio of liberal to conservative faculty increasing from 2:1 in 1990 to 5:1 in 2014, and with conservatives virtually without representation at many elite social science and humanities departments (one study found that Democrats outnumber Republicans at top 40 history departments by a more than 33:1 margin). And there is no sign the trend is abating; younger American professors are even more uniformly liberal than the older cohort.

Etchemendy’s speech calls for efforts to bring in more faculty with heterodox views—not as a kind of spoils system for conservatives, but because a greater diversity of viewpoints is likely to increase the rigor of scholarship overall, no matter the viewpoint of the person conducting it:

We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.

It is telling that Etchemendy chose to deliver this speech once his tenure as provost was over; perhaps he thought that it would generate too much political blowback if he was still Stanford’s number two administrator. Hopefully his fellow academics take note.

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  • Beauceron

    The ability to control messaging and language through the educational and media systems is one of the core power structures of the Left. They are never going to give that up. That a departing provost (who, incidentally, oversaw the potential renaming project of Stanford’s buildings because of the usual white racist colonialist oppressor charges) has to beg his fellow Leftists to maybe, possibly consider cracking the door to let just a little sliver of light in shows just how bad it’s gotten. But they’re never going to do that.

    To be blunt, universities are not for education any longer. They are for indoctrination. This is true for the humanities, but even business and STEM majors no longer escape its grasp, as all students at most universities are required to attend seminars or take courses where Leftist propaganda is force-fed to students.

    But they have you over a barrel, because to get a decent job, you need that piece of paper. So if you’re a student these days, you go to college to collect the piece of paper you need to get a job. The best advice you can give to a college-bound young person is to show up to class, regurgitate what your idiot professors want to hear, get your grade and collect your degree, and then leave and never look back forgetting most of what they “taught” you. If you are interested in the humanities, its best to pursue that interest on your own time. If you like history or literature, avoid university courses on history and literature like they’re the plague. Nothing will ruin your understanding of history, literature or art like a university course. The goal is to get the degree.

    If conservatives want even just a small place at the university table, they will have to TAKE it. The Left are no longer interested in debate, they are interested in control. People interested in control never willingly give anything up.

  • QET

    It isn’t just that the ratio of conservative to liberal faculty is low. That presents entirely too passive and phlegmatic a picture, a picture of honest scholars disagreeing in good faith in polite encounters. What is going on is that left-liberal faculty and left-liberal students and left-liberal administrators are actively persecuting all persons who dare even to question their still-evolving orthodoxies, who speak and dress and act in ways they merely dislike. They use the all-purpose unanswerable indictment “offensive” as the pretext for their persecution.

    Let Nietzsche explain what is going on, in clear, concise, correct language:

    Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be Pharisees, if only they had—power.

    • gabriel

      Putting aside Nietzche for the moment, you are entirely correct. We need to recognize that the disappearance of conservatives is not the result of natural forces. It is a result of the systematic hostility, bias and discrimination that conservatives (and many religious believers) face within these institutions, from undergraduate years to tenure decisions.

      Does anyone doubt that if, say, the proportion of blacks in the academy had started out at half their proportion of the population and then declined a further 60% over twenty-five years, that there would be absolutely no question that discrimination was at work? Liberals would be throwing university administrators into gulags and imposing federal control over the nation’s universities.

  • Tom Scharf

    Too little, too late?

    Many in academia believe they are “winning” by becoming lock step liberal, but the end point of this process is that the society will no longer respect their viewpoints due to apparent bias that cannot be institutionally overcome.

    That is losing, not winning.

    • Jim__L

      I’ll believe that when I see them forced off the field in disgrace.

      That will be a wonderful day. =)

    • seattleoutcast

      Academia is often the last to figure things out. Newton and the new scientists were revolutionizing the natural world while most of academia was still filled with scholastics.

      • Pait

        Right. There was Newton far far far from academia in far far far out Trinity College in Cambridge which of course never had anything to do with academia. Just like today’s Yale and Harvard. Wait, am I getting the logic wrong? What’s logic anyway?

        • Andrew Allison

          In answer to your question, see “Symbolic Logic” by Charles Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll.

          • Jim__L

            Didn’t Queen Victoria say to him, upon reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, “Dr. Dodgson, I quite enjoyed your book, could you send me a copy of your next one?”

            The next one turning out to be, “Symbolic Logic”.

      • Jim__L

        To be fair, Newton had some screwy ideas of his own — more than enough to get him canned from most modern universities.

        It’s a lot like what’s going on with the climate stuff nowadays, really — Newton wasn’t interested in conforming, and he got into a lot of trouble for it. Despite the fact that F=ma is basically the foundation of just about every discipline of engineering.

        • Andrew Allison

          You (inadvertantly?) hit the nail on the head. the sad fact is that the sort of independent thinking which led to the breakthoughs of Newton, Faraday (just for you Pait [grin]) and Einstein has no place in today’s Acadamy.

          • Jim__L

            I’m not here to defend Newton’s wackier ideas. Fortunately, they were about alchemy and Biblical prophecies, rather than politics.

            Needless to say, his religious beliefs would have gotten him fired by the likes of Neil Degrasse Tyson, whatever his contributions to science.

          • Andrew Allison

            Ah, yes. Another name for the pseudo-scientific pantheon of shame.

        • Fred

          Newton had some screwy ideas and the Scholastics had some profound ones. I highly recommend Edward Feser’s Scholastic Metaphysics and Neo-Scholastic Essays.

  • Pait

    We may look into the particulars of academic culture to understand why the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the social sciences is higher than in the hard sciences. The #fact that liberals outnumber Republicans by 5 to 1 among the pragmatic, non-ideological hard scientists and engineers is a reflection exclusively of how the Party has left the reality-based community.

    • Jim__L

      That, or the fact that university hiring and promotion practices really are completely skewed.

      • Pait

        Totally skewed indeed. Specially in the sciences. Scientific evaluations are 100% reality based, and facts, as we all know, have a strong liberal bias.

        • Jim__L

          You seriously think there’s no way to take scientific data and make the numbers dance to whatever tune a politician calls?

          • Pait

            I’m sure you know many. Torture a number, it will confess anything. That’s what the wingnut think tanks do.

            It’s much easier of you just disregard all the science, of course.

          • Jim__L

            You can learn pretty much anything about making numbers dance from the Climate guys over at East Anglia.

            And then, you can make it a condition of employment in the Sciences to believe what those faked numbers say.

            So… no one’s buying it when you claim the purity and virtue of pure sciences. That credibility has been sacrificed already, and it was the Left that plunged in the knife.

    • QET

      Only someone utterly unfamiliar with (a) science, and (b) the academy could believe that science is “pragmatic and non-ideological.”

      • Psalms564

        Or a blind partisan ideologue like Pait. but I don’t think we have to argue about either/or dichotomy and embrace the healing power of “and”.

      • Pait

        Totally unfamiliar. Indeed I am. I learn all my science in those ideological bastions – the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Mathematical Society, Science magazine, and assorted universities.

        I forgot that the only science that matters is the one that appears in Party documents.

        • Makaden

          As someone with a PhD in the social sciences, if you think examples from the “hard sciences” should be taken as reflecting in any way the state of the social sciences, you are out of your damned mind. There is a small–small–faction of quantitative social scientists who could be said to not be “ideologically driven.” The rest of them, except for a handful of quantitative social scientists, are ideologues. There is no other way to put it.

        • Andrew Allison

          As a former Fellow of what used to be the IEE, I must point out that you didn’t learn any science from the Institution — you simply demonstrated knowledge of electrical engineering, i.e. applied science.

          • Pait

            You bet I did, and I do. I go to their conferences regularly, and read the publications.

        • Anthony

          “The enemy was unpopular, and undoubtedly an ‘elitist’; but he trafficked in fact, and he was right.” (Henrik Ibsen, “An Enemy of the People”)

          • Jim__L

            Thaaat’s what you keep telling yourselves, isn’t it.

          • Anthony

            time.com/4675860/donald-trump-fake-news-attacks/

        • QET

          I’m not questioning your personal technical competence in whatever science or engineering discipline you practice. I am denying the truth of your statement that the practice of (natural) science is “pragmatic and non-ideological.” It cannot be pragmatic, because science aims always (ideally) at the truth, and pragmatism is a philosophy that deliberately avoids getting bogged down in questions of “the truth.” It is not non-ideological (whether it cannot be so is an impractical question). Scientists, particularly in the last 50 years, insert themselves more and more into political questions, making science serve politics. Take the AMS which you mention. One would expect mathematics to be the least susceptible to ideological concerns (and perhaps in fact mathematics is just so). Yet go to its website. It has “Policy” and “Government” advocacy pages. It advocates against immigration restrictions. Its official reasoning attempts to make its ground for this advocacy “neutral,” a matter purely of science, but that reasoning is totally unconvincing. In-person acquaintance has never been necessary to the work of mathematicians, as the extensive correspondence between, say, 19th century mathematicians demonstrates. So not even mathematics can be said to be non-ideological (and this does not even touch the question of politics within the academy, of which science professors and projects get funding, and why, and how, and from whom).

          • Pait

            Science is pragmatic and non-ideological #fact. Most scientists tend towards the pragmatic and non-ideological most of the time #fact again.

            That doesn’t mean scientists are apolitical, nor that they should be. They and their organization often tend to be less political, and certainly less partisan, than others – which may be good in normal circumstances, but has the drawback of leaving politics under the control of dogmatic, ideological people with little understanding or even respect for science.

    • Psalms564

      Reality based? Like that one time all those racists said Obama was lying about his Obamacare pledges. That reality? The reality of exchanges going into death spirals. That reality? Please do tell us. And the hashtag… That’s good…

    • seattleoutcast

      Scientists and engineers are just as fallible as social scientists, believe me. In fact, they are often worse, because their hubris is greater than the average person. A PhD in a very narrow field does not entitle one to be an expert in all areas of science.

      • Andrew Allison

        I would argue that the hubris of social “scientists”, who pretend to understand human actions and frailties, are orders of magnitude more fallible that actual scientists who understand that if an experiment doesn’t confirm the hypothesis, the hypothesis is wrong.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Thank you for proving the point that the author was making.

    • Andrew Allison

      There’s no such thing as “the social sciences”. Like economics (a branch of social sciences) and climate “science”, the results consistently refute the hypotheses, which as any real scientist or engineer will tell you means that the “science” is not. It’s also disingenuous to equate liberals with Republicans (as opposed to liberals vs. conservatives). Given the manifest failures of both socialism and social democracy around the world, it’s ridiculous to suggest that four out of five pragmatic, non-ideological hard scientists and engineers don’t recognize the fact that you can’t be both a pragmatist and a progressive (c.f. FG).

      • Pait

        Social democracy is an abject failure. Just look at what happened in Sweden! Worse than the Bowling Green massacre.

        Fortunately, my Scandinavian friends are all doing alright. Their neighbors to. And their neighbors’ neighbors.

        • leoj

          Really? All of the Jewish people I know in Sweden are fleeing. I guess the Swedes were just tired of those old canaries…

        • Jim__L

          You mean the demographic collapse and subsequent colonization of a country by foreigners hostile to their hosts’ way of life is “success”?

          You’re mad, just like everyone on the Left.

      • Makaden

        There is such thing as the social sciences. It’s just that, in their present state, they reflect the ravages of 50 years of cancer that was post-structuralism.

  • Andrew Allison

    A less charitable view-point would be that it was disgraceful of Etchemendy to hold his peace until after he retired.

    • Disappeared4x

      Perhaps. Yet, Etchemeddy is now bullet-proof, being from Stanford. Wonder if he lunches with realHistorian Victor Davis Hanson at the Hoover Institute.

  • mdmusterstone

    SJW: You have to be reasonable.

    While I, certain of my own virtue, will be unreasonable with you.

    “Terror is the natural emanation of virtue.” -Robespierre

    I wonder upon what basis can we have social/policy conversations in this environment?

    • mdmusterstone

      May I restate?

      SJW: You have to be reasonable.

      While I, certain of my own virtue, will be unreasonable with you.

      …all conflict in history has been between virtues.

      Every murder is an act of virtue, particularly mass murder.

      To question the virtuous basis of a man’s life is to invalidate a core so fundamental that logic has no “listen”.

      “Terror is the natural emanation of virtue.” -Robespierre

      I wonder upon what basis can we have social/policy conversations in this environment?

      • Jim__L

        None, really, with someone who thinks that murder is a virtue.

        Please go rethink your morality before posting again.

  • J K Brown

    without representation at many elite social science and humanities departments (one study found that Democrats outnumber Republicans at top 40 history departments by a more than 33:1 margin)

    That probably explains why American universities, humanities departments specifically, did nothing to raise their profile by organizing celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta back in 2015.

    The best way to increase diversity of thought at the universities is to end tenure and force the professors into the market. Nothing develops conservative thought like not have a sinecure and being accountable for producing something of value to your fellow humans.

    • Tom Billings

      “The best way to increase diversity of thought at the universities is to end tenure and force the professors into the market.”

      Not as long as you leave the administrative feudatories in place. It will simply make professors slaves of the administrators, who already are intent that their universities be places of indoctrination. The quickest thing will be to move away from certification by academia and towards certification by direct evidence of learning and work done, recorded on flash drives, or whatever replaces them, in a logical structure that will allow both schools and employers to use appropriate software to search for what they want in terms of demonstrated knowledge.

      Kill The Degree!

      It is their control over degree granting that gives these indoctrinators any power at all.

  • FriendlyGoat

    We should be asking ourselves what a “conservative” is. In Tehran or Riyadh, it is a person who believes that nothing in human thought can supersede the sayings of Muhammad. What, exactly is a conservative here? One who believes PPACA is evil and a bad deal for citizens overall? One who “didn’t care” about Donald Trump’s tax returns? One who believes gays and transgenders are sinners to be shunned?
    One who insists that there is no AGW? One who thinks high-end tax cuts create jobs? One who believes in no collective bargaining?
    One who believes mail order kits for untraceable put-together-yourself guns are no problem? One who believes in no affirmative action?
    One who wishes to argue for young-earth creation? One who dislikes Common Core? One who goes with all of above?

    Want to put equal time for equal views into public universities? If so, I’d say let’s put equal time for equal views into every organization with a tax exemption. Maybe even every organization with a registered corporation or LLC of any kind. That way we will always have fair representation of ideas wherever there are “public-facing” communications. Why not? We’d actually have a better country, you know?

    • Eurydice

      A very good question for you to research. I know that with regard to Common Core there are liberals who have argued against it and conservatives who have argued for it – so how does one label those people?

      • FriendlyGoat

        My “research” on Common Core (as a 65-year-old non-educator curious citizen) is that my wife and I are reading through the stories in a CC literature book for sixth graders. We wanted to sample the tone up close—-just for edification. So far (we’re not done), we found one story a little too abstract and fanciful, but nothing objectionable yet.

        My “take” on the whole subject is that liberals may have found the accompanying testing to end up as another hammer to bludgeon teachers for low student scores and conservatives are alarmed that CC invites more free-wheeling critical thought from students than well fits current conservative ideology.

        But, everyone should be entitled to weigh in.

    • Jim__L

      A Conservative is one who believes that the virtues of the past reflect deep thought, wisdom, and experience about the human condition, and should not be abandoned for the sake of novelty.

      Your presentation here doesn’t really deserve a serious answer, but the answer itself deserves to be said as often as possible, so there it is.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I personally don’t think your definitive sentence differs significantly from the gobbledegook which could be found on any conservative corner in Tehran or Riyadh.

        • Jim__L

          Islam is a straw man, here. Am I advocating Islam? It’s easy to compare the results of Islam with the results of, say, Victorian / Edwardian society in terms of broadly increasing prosperity combined with social order and (justified!) rising expectations.

          It’s similarly easy to point to the collapse of the family and civil society (see: the Moynihan report, Bowling Alone, and the entire continent of Europe) with the rise of Big Government and associated European values. The novelties you so admire have yet to demonstrate that they can lead to a stable, self-sufficient, self-propagating society. In fact (see: Europe) the evidence is against those novelties’ being effective. I don’t believe they ever will be — many of them are absolutely absurd on the face of it — and I think it’s a mistake to keep trying.

          In fact, there’s a huge amount of irony that for all that Leftists decry “Eurocenticity” (when it is applied to admiring past centuries where Europe was vibrant and successful) their thought is so Eurocentric when it comes to present-day Europe which is in steep decline. Our cousins are wasting the legacy of our common forefathers, and ignoring the legacy of traditional American culture which brought us to the point of being an uncontested superpower.

          Which the Left is frittering away with political correctness, etc.

          I could go on, but I think I’ve been concrete enough for any reasonable listener.

          • FriendlyGoat

            We’re going to need definitions of Victorian, Edwardian, “associated European values”, novelties, “traditional American culture”, political correctness and “et cetera” among other things. I’m not really against conservatism being examined at the college level. I’m actually kinda for it. But, that needs to be a drill-down to the very simple list of “dots” or positions. So, I’m back to “What is a conservative?” There are probably no more than a few dozen bullet points which distinguish a “strong conservative” from a CINO or even from Bernie Sanders and Rachel Maddow. What are they on a couple of sheets of paper? After that list is made and circulated, it will be much easier to determine whether they are college-level credible.

          • Jim__L

            You should read books about why the West wins. Victor Davis Hanson, Niall Ferguson, and CS Lewis have written some good stuff on the subject, Hanson from a military history point of view, Ferguson from an economic history point of view, and Lewis from a moral / religious point of view.

            Implying that these are not college-level thinkers is utterly absurd, by the way… although considering the state of the academy these days, adhering to “college level” unnecessarily degrades the intelligence of debate.

            My recent reading from Victor Davis Hanson, the pungently named “Carnage and Culture”, looks at how Western values (which overlap greatly with Conservative values) like political freedom, capitalism, individualism, democracy, scientific inquiry, rationalism, and open debate help with grand enterprises – in this case, wars, but it’s not that hard to tell how these lessons could be applied to other undertakings.

            Other particularly recommended titles:
            Civilization: The West and the Rest, Niall Ferguson
            The Abolition of Man, CS Lewis

            More later, if you’re interested.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Nothing wrong with putting Hanson’s bullet points on the list as long as all the isms are defined with relevance to current events. People from both left and right can always be enlightened by a review of how government and the capitalism of defense contractors combine and align to win wars.

          • Jim__L

            Trying to find something to snipe at still, FG?

            Hanson’s point is that capitalism makes the West better at war, better at peace, and pretty much every other enterprise we turn our hand to. No other economic organizing principle comes close to delivering the same results as capitalism does.

            The example Hanson uses to illustrate this point is the battle of Lepanto. There, the output of the capitalist-run Arsenal of tiny, tiny (highly capitalist) Venice stood against the might of the piratical, authoritarian, highly-centralized Islamic Ottoman Empire — and blasted it to pieces.

            Your intellectually impoverished script of “lining up ‘isms'” that the Left equipped you with will get you no farther than the archery of those highly-trained Muslims who drowned off the coast of Greece in 1571.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I wasn’t sniping. Modern American government and modern American defense contractors do combine and align to win wars. Let’s talk about it candidly since it is real and far more relevant than Lepanto at this time.

        • Eurydice

          I don’t understand. Are you saying that before conservative viewpoints can be included in academia we have to define what conservatism means?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes. I guess that’s what I’m saying. The same should apply to modern political liberalism as well, of course. Remember somebody wondering why if the professor from Gilligan’s Island could make a radio out of a coconut that they didn’t just fix the hole in the boat? Have we forgotten how to do simple stuff like make lists? If so, why?

          • Eurydice

            Well, I don’t think the Professor on Gilligan’s Island was an actual professor, at all – some say he was a high school teacher and some say research scientist. But it seems to me that you are equating political views with academic competence in one’s chosen subject, and that’s not what the subject of this article is about. And it seems you are also saying that one has to pass a litmus test before one can offer an opinion that dissents from the majority.

            This is interesting to me because in my very liberal corner of the country I have been hearing some very illiberal views, views that in an earlier time (like before the presidential campaign) would have been scorned as right-wing and discriminatory. Ideas like the litmus test (I have heard this from others), the belief that underemployed and poor white males deserve to be poor because they didn’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps, the idea that fly-over states don’t deserve the same representation under the Constitution because the coasts are wealthier and more productive. Perhaps we need to acknowledge that humans, whatever their veneer of political orientation, are all the same kind of beast at heart and are subject to the same kinds of foibles no matter how pretty the words are to describe them. Perhaps a diversity of thought in the public and academic sphere will help people realize this…perhaps…

          • FriendlyGoat

            And I didn’t think this had much to do with a question of “academic competence” to teach a subject unrelated to politics—–but was all about whether political conservatives were present in sufficient numbers in the university setting to do what?——to sell political conservatism.

            So, I’m not embarrassed at all to ask WHAT IS IT? before we hire people on the public dime to teach it as philosophy. We are not talking about one “litmus test”. We are talking about as many bullet points as can be put on a list to define the word “conservative”. There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of them which are absolutely required of some conservatives to be accepted by other conservatives. So let’s get them down on paper and evaluate whether, taken as a whole, they hold up in academic rigor——BEFORE we turn a public university into an extension of a lobby shop.

          • Eurydice

            But the point here is that pubic universities (or private ones, as the ex-provost of Stanford points out) are already lobby shops. Nobody asked “what is a liberal” when liberal professors were hired – their numbers just grew through the natural inertia of majority. To suddenly require extra hoops and bullet points when “the other” wants to join the conversation is just plain exclusionary; we’ve spent decades teaching everyone that this is wrong.. And the provost isn’t talking only about the hiring of professors, he’s talking about the general suppression of diversity on college campuses everywhere.

          • FriendlyGoat

            There is nothing (nothing) wrong with asking “What is a liberal?” or “What is a progressive?” We should be doing that with the same lists and the same vigor/rigor.

          • Eurydice

            Agreed. It would be a very interesting exercise. I will counter with there’s nothing wrong with having a conversation with someone who has differing views.

          • Makaden

            Too late. It’s already turned into a lobby shop, before you had the unction to requests a bullet list. We have to face the fact that Universities have been subject to as much (ideological) gerrymandering as some of the political-geographical boundaries of this country have been.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Funny thing. I’m going to guess that one must ascribe to a particular statement of faith to get hired as faculty at Liberty, Bob Jones or Oral Roberts Universities and that no one signs anything similar to get hired at State University.

          • Makaden

            Ah, you just fail to include all “pieces of paper.” For state universities, it is your published record. If it doesn’t hit the Orwellian “officially approved” speech buttons, well, good luck. But don’t take my word for it: The former chancellor of Stanford just told you so. I’m guessing he might be a little more “in-the-know” than you.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The former chancellor of Stanford was at a place which hosts the Hoover Institution. He has been associated with plenty of conservative views spewing out of a university and hardly needs to be telling us those are unrepresented or lacking.

    • Fred

      As a rule of thumb, I think Jim’s definition is quite good. It is what pretty much all those who call themselves “conservative” are united on. But “conservative” is a bit of an umbrella term. It includes traditionalists, libertarians, club for growth sorts, and just people who want to conserve a particular status quo. If you want more specifics, you’ll have to ask the questions more specifically. I personally am a Burkean traditionalist conservative. If you want to know what, specifically, that is, try reading Aristotle, Aquinas, Dante, Shakespeare, Burke, Coleridge, Santayana, TS Eliot, Eric Voegelin, and Alysdair MacIntyre to start with (although good luck finding a literature, philosophy, or history department these days that takes their ideas seriously if it teaches them at all). If you’re interested in what economic conservatives really think and not your hyper-partisan caricature of what they think, read Adam Smith, Hayek, von Mises, Friedman, and I’m sure there are a host of others I could recommend if economics were my field (and you’ll need even better luck finding any of them taught in a university). The problem is not that conservative ideas are lacking or irrational or stupid (that attitude itself is incredibly closed-minded and stupid) it is that they are deliberately ignored because of the ideological predilections of university professors. And a powerful argument can be made that ignoring those ideas impoverishes education in any number of ways. In fact, Via Meadia has made that argument quite effectively in several posts.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Jim’s definition potentially justifies absolutely anything from the past. Yours does too—–except that you included “If you want more specifics, you’ll have to ask the questions more specifically.” That’s what I am proposing.

        • Jim__L

          That is a caricature of my position. A passing familiarity on your part with the Western Canon would improve this conversation greatly.

          That’s why it’s so important to get that reinstated as a part of the curriculum of any organization that wants to call itself a university.

          • FriendlyGoat

            “A Conservative is one who believes that the virtues of the past reflect deep thought, wisdom, and experience about the human condition, and should not be abandoned for the sake of novelty.”

            could easily be adopted by adherents of native American religions, Confucianism, Islam or even Greek Mythology to mean that they were correct all along and that the Western Canon is bunk. Since this is absolutely not what any real American conservatives believe, it is a hokey definition of a conservative. A good definition is a list of bullet points, each of which would win applause at CPAC.

          • Jim__L

            I chose the word “caricature” carefully. A caricature takes one aspect of a thing, and exaggerates it to the point of absurdity. Which is what you’re doing.

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s worth remembering in this thread who was initially replying to who and with what. You cooked up a faux-intellectual paint job over the reality of present-day political conservatism in America. It’s not a matter of caricature—–it’s just thin paint.

          • Jim__L

            I’m curious what your definition of “intellectual” is, to get a better idea what you’re saying when you say “faux-intellectual”.

            Personally I suspect by “intellectual” you simply mean “agrees with Leftist dogma”, but feel free to present counter-arguments.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The reason I called your original definition faux is because, as I told Fred, it could be used to justify anything (anything) from the past.
            Let’s not forget, BTW, that you have SINCE added in the concepts of Western canon, culture and values—–things not even appearing in the first version.

            But the POINT is that a modern-day political conservative is defined by what can be gathered from the actual words of modern-day political conservatives—-not from the ancients or various classics.

          • Jim__L

            FG… quit Left-splaining. You’re making everyones’ heads hurt.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Finding out clearly what the Right believes is now Left-splaining?

          • Jim__L

            Lecturing someone about what they “actually” are about, coming from someone who doesn’t know or believe it, is ‘splaining, as far as I can tell. Saying that a white person is “racist” if they believe that Affirmative Action is unjust towards whites, for example, is ‘splaining.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I did ask whether conservatives believe in no affirmative action, and I believe their answer would be enlightening—–together with their positions on dozens of other issues. A list is not a lecture, it’s an evaluation tool.

          • Jim__L

            Hmmm, no, actually you lecture conservatives here on a regular basis about how they’re about what Trump is about. You’re arguing in bad faith, and you know you’re arguing in bad faith, in an attempt to tar conservatives with whatever nastiness you think Trump is about.

            Do you seriously need me to dig back through your comments and show you? Or can you be honest enough to admit it?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Go ahead and dig back through my comments.

          • CowsomeLoneboy

            Good gawd, do you ever have a severe case of myopic self awareness.

        • Fred

          Jim’s definition potentially justifies absolutely anything from the past. Yours does too

          Nonsense. A presumption in favor of the past in no way entails a justification of absolutely anything from the past. Without presuming to speak for Jim, I doubt he would, and I certainly wouldn’t, favor a return to slavery or Jim Crow, for example. But cultures don’t spring up out of the ground from sown dragon’s teeth, and they are not infinitely malleable. Every culture has a history, art, a literature (even if only oral), customs, traditions, mores, all of which combine to make its people who they are. Unlike those on the left, conservatives are humble in the face of that identity. We believe there is wisdom in the past, that if something has always been done a certain way, the presumption should be that it’s because that’s the best way to do it. And while we recognize that that presumption is not always the case, it is where we start and we require very powerful arguments to go against it. We are also more humble than the arrogant left about human nature and the possibilities of human “improvement.” Like human cultures, human nature is not infinitely malleable and the attempt to disruptively change that nature can only result in disaster (cf Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, et. al.). We are also more likely than the left to take into account the Law of Unintended Consequences, such as the multi-generational dependence on government dole created by welfare policies; the destruction of marriage exacerbated (at the least) by no-fault divorce; the epidemics of unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and STDs caused by the sexual revolution; or the crime wave caused by liberal attitudes and policies toward crime in the 1960s and 70s. Your statement above is, as other commenters have pointed out, a hyper-partisan caricature.

          And yes, I’m quite aware that my reading list is no longer fashionable in Academia. That is a huge part of the problem with Academia.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m arguing that there are millions of conservatives of all education levels in this country who can tell those “liberal elites” in Academia what modern political conservatism in America entails. We should ask a large sampling of them, make a list and present it to the colleges to prove what is under-represented in faculty viewpoints. The rest of this is “up in the clouds”.

  • moron

    “Ill-conceived constraints on immigration.” Sir, that would be illegal immigrants. Right now there are few constraints on the open border approach to “immigration.” Go visit the Texas border.

  • Chi Huavara

    State funded and supported public education has no value, as is evidenced by the quality of both modern day professors and the uneducated graduates they’re churning out. These fascism factories produce nothing but societal problems.

    This is why public education needs to be abolished and outlawed altogether. A Constitutional Amendment establishing a permanent separation of education and state needs to be ratified. And the Department of Education needs to be dissolved and eliminated.

    • Pait

      State funded and supported public education has no value, as evidenced by the dismal failure of Prussia to transform itself from a backward country into a great European power in the 19th century, by the dismal failure of the United States in becoming the world superpower in the 20th, and South Korea’s dismal failure in transitioning from one of the poorest to one of the richest countries in Asia in the 21st.

      Wait, am I getting something wrong here?

      • Chi Huavara

        Yes.

        Mostly your sentence structure.

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