16 May 2016

Does Academia Discriminate Against Conservatives?

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William H. Simon, Columbia Law

Nicholas Kristof recently editorialized on liberal arrogance and the general absence of conservative opinion in Academia:

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us. ..

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?” …

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

If anybody doubted that Kristof had a point, this particular letter-to-the-editor in response from a snotty self-complacent Columbia Law professor provides excellent confirmatory evidence. All you under-educated and wealthy out there take heed!

To the Editor: Nicholas Kristof exaggerates the problem of liberal bias in the academy. It is not the job of the university to represent all the views held in the surrounding society. The commitment to critical inquiry requires it to disfavor some views based on religious dogma, social convention or superstition. The goal of a community of mutual respect requires it to disfavor others, including those that are explicitly racist, misogynist or homophobic. Such views can be expressed in the university, but it is not a cause for concern that academics do not espouse them in their teaching and research. Much of the disparity between views in the academy and in the Republican Party is attributable to their varying social bases. Academics tend to be educated and middle class. The current Republican Party is constituted disproportionately of the undereducated and the wealthy.

That education leads people to different views is neither surprising nor, on its face, disturbing. And if it is a problem that the views of rich people are underrepresented in the academy, they have had little trouble making up for this disadvantage in the media and the political system.


Stanford, Calif.

The writer is a professor at Columbia Law School.

4 Feedbacks on "Does Academia Discriminate Against Conservatives?"


“explicitly racist, misogynist or homophobic.”

It always amazes me that so many on the left truly do not understand that they apply those insulting claims to anyone they disagree with. If your religion does not embrace homosexuality that you are a some kind of sub-human. Worse they ascribe terrible motives to you and it is assumed by the great unwashed left that you would throw homosexuals off buildings as Isis does because after all you are ‘religious’. It is beyond their understanding that the real point for many is that the LGBT community is aggressively trying to achieve protected status under law, to acquire special privileges in a society based on equality. Certainly many on the left know what this ruse really is but so many simply fall in line lockstep in assuming all conservatives are sub-human mouth breathing neanderthals intent on discriminating against all the lefty agendas.


If Republicans are the party of the wealthy, why are 7 out the 10 wealthiest congressional districts represented by Democrats?

Mr. Simon should have followed the advice of another lawyer (Abraham Lincoln):

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

Steve Gregg

Professor Simon’s rebuttal is full of the foolish unchallenged false assumptions one gathers, like barnacles, when you seal your world off from contradictory thought.


Liberals very vocally advocate critical thinking, but only for conservatives.


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