Category Archive 'Liberal Intolerance'
05 Oct 2018

Facebook Erupts Over VP’s Friendship With Kavanaugh

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Joel Kaplan sat at the left, two rows back, during the Kavanaugh hearing.

The NY Times reports that a Facebook VP being a friend of Brett Kavanaugh’s has led to outrage at the California company.

“I want to apologize,” the Facebook executive wrote last Friday in a note to staff. “I recognize this moment is a deeply painful one — internally and externally.”

The apology came from Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy. A day earlier, Mr. Kaplan had sat behind his friend, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, when the judge testified in Congress about allegations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school. Mr. Kaplan’s surprise appearance prompted anger and shock among many Facebook employees, some of whom said they took his action as a tacit show of support for Judge Kavanaugh — as if it were an endorsement from Facebook itself.

The unrest quickly spilled over onto Facebook’s internal message boards, where hundreds of workers have since posted about their concerns, according to current and former employees. To quell the hubbub, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, last Friday explained in a widely attended staff meeting that Mr. Kaplan was a close friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s and had broken no company rules, these people said.

Yet the disquiet within the company has not subsided. This week, Facebook employees kept flooding internal forums with comments about Mr. Kaplan’s appearance at the hearing. In a post on Wednesday, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook executive, appeared to dismiss the concerns when he wrote to employees that “it is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.” Facebook plans to hold another staff meeting on Friday to contain the damage, said the current and former employees. …

The internal turmoil at Facebook — described by six current and former employees and a review of internal posts — illustrates how divisions over Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court have cascaded into unexpected places and split one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

Mr. Kaplan’s show of support for Judge Kavanaugh hits a particularly sensitive spot for Facebook. It has been weathering claims from conservatives and Mr. Trump that Facebook is biased against right-wing websites and opinions. The company has denied this, saying it is a neutral platform that welcomes all perspectives. By showing up at Judge Kavanaugh’s side, Mr. Kaplan essentially appeared to choose a political side that goes against the views of Facebook’s largely liberal work force.

Many employees also viewed it as a statement: Mr. Kaplan believed Mr. Kavanaugh’s side of the story rather than Dr. Blasey’s testimony. That felt especially hurtful to Facebook employees who were also sexual assault survivors, many of whom began sharing their own #MeToo stories internally.

The tensions add to a litany of other issues that have sapped employee morale. In the past few weeks alone, the company, based in Silicon Valley, has grappled with the departures of the co-founders of Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, plus the disclosure of its largest-ever data breach and continued scrutiny of disinformation across its network before the midterm elections.

“Our leadership team recognizes that they’ve made mistakes handling the events of the last week and we’re grateful for all the feedback from our employees,” Roberta Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday.

RTWT

Western Society has reached the interesting point at which fashionable class solidarity within capitalist organizations will punish ideological deviationism with as much alacrity as last century’s totalitarian regimes.

21 Apr 2018

Kevin Williams Describes Being Fired By The Atlantic

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Kevin Williamson discusses his short career at The Atlantic.

In early March, I met up with Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of the Atlantic, at an event sponsored by the magazine at the South by Southwest conference in Austin. He had just hired me away from National Review, the venerable conservative magazine where I’d been a writer and editor for 10 years.

“You know, the campaign to have me fired will begin 11 seconds after you announce that you’ve hired me,” I told him. He scoffed. “It won’t be that bad,” he said. “The Atlantic isn’t the New York Times. It isn’t high church for liberals.”

My first piece appeared in the Atlantic on April 2. I was fired on April 5.

The purported reason for our “parting ways,” as Mr. Goldberg put it in his announcement, had nothing to do with what I’d written in my inaugural piece. The problem was a six-word, four-year-old tweet on abortion and capital punishment and a discussion of that tweet in a subsequent podcast. I had responded to a familiar pro-abortion argument: that pro-lifers should not be taken seriously in our claim that abortion is the willful taking of an innocent human life unless we are ready to punish women who get abortions with long prison sentences. It’s a silly argument, so I responded with these words: “I have hanging more in mind.”

Trollish and hostile? I’ll cop to that, though as the subsequent conversation online and on the podcast indicated—to say nothing of the few million words of my published writing available to the reading public—I am generally opposed to capital punishment. I was making a point about the sloppy rhetoric of the abortion debate, not a public-policy recommendation. Such provocations can sometimes clarify the terms of a debate, but in this case, I obscured the more meaningful questions about abortion and sparked the sort of hysteria I’d meant to point out and mock.

RTWT

07 Apr 2018

The Atlantic Narrows the Overton Window to an Arrow Slit (For Conservatives)

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I think Jonah Goldberg did the best job of putting Kevin Williamson’s rapid firing by The Atlantic (after a single editorial) in the appropriate perspective.

Michael Anton, who penned “The Flight 93 Election” back when he was hiding behind a pen-name, articulated very well in an exchange with me what millions of conservatives believe to be true:

    The old American ideal of judging individuals and not groups, content-of-character-not-color-of-skin, is dead, dead, dead. Dead as a matter of politics, policy and culture. The left plays by new rules. The right still plays by the old rules. The left laughs at us for it — but also demands that we keep to that rulebook. They don’t even bother to cheat. They proclaim outright that “these rules don’t apply to our side.”

I disagree with Anton’s prescription — to surrender to identity politics and cheat the way our “enemies” do — but I cannot argue much with this description of a widespread mindset. Many on the right are surrendering to the logic of the mob because they are sick of double standards. Again, I disagree with the decision to surrender, but I certainly empathize with the temptation. The Left and the mainstream media can’t even see how they don’t want to simply win, they want to force people to celebrate their victories (“You will be made to care!”). It isn’t forced conversion at the tip of a sword, but at the blunt edge of a virtual mob.

I could go on for another 2,000 words about all of the double standards I have in mind. But let’s stick with the subject at hand: Kevin Williamson’s views on abortion put him outside the mainstream. And he was fired from The Atlantic merely for refusing to recant them.

Meanwhile, extreme views on the left are simply hot takes or even signs of genius. Take the philosopher Peter Singer. He has at least as extreme views on a host of issues, and he is feted and celebrated for them. He is the author of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on “Ethics.” He holds an endowed chair at Princeton. He writes regularly for leading publications. And he argues that sometimes it’s okay to kill babies, as in his essay “Killing Babies Isn’t Always Wrong.” “Newborn human babies,” he writes, “have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.” He cutely asks whether people should cease to exist. (He ultimately and grudgingly answers “No.”) Oh, he also argues in favor of bestiality.

And he’s been profiled favorably in the pages of The Atlantic.

And that’s okay. I can’t stand his utilitarian logic-chopping and nihilistic view of humanity, but at least going by Nock’s Ark of the Covenant rules, he should be free to make his arguments anywhere willing editors want to publish them. We have a right to be wrong.

But that’s not the point: Singer’s work does not render him anathema in elite circles, it earns awards, praise, and celebration for its ruthless consistency and edgy provocation. He is not fired for what he writes never mind what he thinks. I have no doubt some people don’t think this is a perfect example of a double standard, and I could come up with some objections to it myself. But if you can’t see why some people — fellow American citizens — see it as a glaring double standard, you are part of the problem.

Kevin was hired by The Atlantic because he is among the best of the homeless conservatives in the Trump Era. That’s why Bret Stephens went to the New York Times, and it’s probably why I’ve gotten my share of strange new respect from some liberals. But what Goldberg — or his boss — and countless others fail to appreciate, I think, is that the Trump Era is merely one facet of the larger age of tribalism that we live in. In an age when evangelical Christians and constitutional conservatives can overlook the sins of a Roy Moore, it’s easy to see how people could mistake a Trump critic as a useful voice in their chorus. But Kevin isn’t one of them. He sings from his own hymnal and he stands athwart the tribalisms of Trumpism and the tribalisms that gave us Trump. He is in The Remnant (which Nock described in, of all places, The Atlantic). And I am honored to be a happy warrior by his side, hopefully at National Review once again.

RTWT

It seems to me that The Atlantic disgraced and embarrassed itself so badly that it really did far more damage to itself than to Kevin Williamson.

01 Apr 2018

Hyper-Liberalism Has Replaced Liberalism

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John Gray is dismayed at the way the politics of identity has replaced Liberalism with intolerant and totalitarian hyper-liberalism.

It would be easy to say that liberalism has now been abandoned. Practices of toleration that used to be seen as essential to freedom are being deconstructed and dismissed as structures of repression, and any ideas or beliefs that stand in the way of this process banned from public discourse. Judged by old-fashioned standards, this is the opposite of what liberals have stood for. But what has happened in higher education is not that liberalism has been supplanted by some other ruling philos­ophy. Instead, a hyper-liberal ideology has developed that aims to purge society of any trace of other views of the world. If a regime of censorship prevails in universities, it is because they have become vehicles for this project. When students from China study in Western countries one of the lessons they learn is that the enforcement of intellectual orthodoxy does not require an authoritarian gov­ernment. In institutions that proclaim their commitment to critical inquiry, censorship is most effective when it is self-imposed. A defining feature of tyranny, the policing of opinion is now established practice in societies that believe themselves to be freer than they have ever been.

RTWT

04 Mar 2018

Why Do Conservatives Keep Losing the Culture War?

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David Brooks notes the paradox in which conservative Republican America is able to win at the ballot box, but commonly loses anyway because the Left controls the culture.

Republicans control most legislatures. To get anything passed, I thought, it would be necessary to separate some Republicans from the absolutist N.R.A. position. To do that you have to depolarize the issue: show gun owners some respect, put red state figures at the head and make the gun discussion look more like the opioid discussion. The tribalists in this country have little interest in the opioid issue. As a result, a lot of pragmatic things are being done across partisan lines.

The people pushing for gun restrictions have basically done the exact opposite of what I thought was wise. Instead of depolarizing the issue they have massively polarized it. The students from Parkland are being assisted by all the usual hyper-polarizing left-wing groups: Planned Parenthood, Move On and the Women’s March. The rhetoric has been extreme. Marco Rubio has been likened to a mass murderer while the N.R.A. has been called a terrorist organization.

The early results would seem to completely vindicate my position. The Florida Legislature turned aside gun restrictions. New gun measures in Congress have been quickly shelved. Democrats are more likely to lose House and Senate seats in the key 2018 pro-gun states. The losing streak continues.

Yet I have to admit that something bigger is going on. It could be that progressives understood something I didn’t. It could be that you can win more important victories through an aggressive cultural crusade than you can through legislation. Progressives could be on the verge of delegitimizing their foes, on guns but also much else, rendering them untouchable for anybody who wants to stay in polite society. That would produce social changes far vaster than limiting assault rifles. …

[P]rogressives are getting better and more aggressive at silencing dissenting behavior. All sorts of formerly legitimate opinions have now been deemed beyond the pale on elite campuses. Speakers have been disinvited and careers destroyed. The boundaries are being redrawn across society.

As Andrew Sullivan noted recently, “workplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago.” There are a number of formerly popular ideas that can now end your career: the belief that men and women have inherent psychological differences, the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, opposition to affirmative action.

What’s happening today is that certain ideas about gun rights, and maybe gun ownership itself, are being cast in the realm of the morally illegitimate and socially unacceptable.

That’s the importance of the corporate efforts to end N.R.A. affiliations. It’s not about N.R.A. members saving some money when they fly. It’s that they are not morally worthy of being among the affiliated groups. The idea is to stigmatize.

If progressives can cut what’s left of the conservative movement off from mainstream society, they will fundamentally alter the culture war. We think of the culture war as this stagnant thing in which both sides scream at each other. But eventually there could be a winner. Progressives have won on most social issues. They could win on nearly everything else.

RTWT

There are obviously plenty of conservative intellectuals. Conservatives at universities are, frankly, smarter than liberals. Conservative ideas, conservative critiques of Progressivism are more substantive, more rigorous, and more serious.

The Left always wins, it seems, by a combination of appeals to sentimentality and emotionalism communicated by simplistic, manipulative slogans which obfuscate and commonly totally misrepresent the issue and the facts. Their final victory comes by making their preferred position a class identifier and a fashion statement. Once that happens, the entire elite establishment is committed and on board.

Standing in opposition to the edicts of the God of Fashionable Opinion is undignified, uncomfortable, and has recently become a very possibly career-limiting decision.

Conservatives are perfectly able to win the debate. We can even win elections. But we seem, as David Brooks recognizes, totally impotent at affecting the Culture or having the slightest influence on Fashion.

Why is this the case? How can it be possible that the better ideas consistently lose in the marketplaces of ideas that matter the most? Any thoughts?

10 Feb 2018

Those Mean Conservatives Are Picking on Him!

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————————

The Tweet comment by Charlie Kirk above provoked this response from author Jesse Farrar:

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Tweet subsequently removed by Twitter.

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Farrar’s Tweet in turn prompted conservative commentary and criticism, so now Farrar is using his homebase at Vice to explain why he is really the victim here.

A newfound object of vitriol from conservatives all around the internet, Farrar received a deluge of death threats and harassment. One Twitter user replied to a picture he tweeted of his dog by saying, “I’d like to drown that dog.” Another man messaged him his home address, daring Farrar to try to drown him. “I will beat that ass until all your liberal snowflake friends can’t even recognize you,” the man threatened.

So many people reported Farrar’s tweet, his account is now restricted (meaning he can’t tweet) for the next seven days. I called up Farrar to ask about his newfound infamy, and whether or not he has any regrets:

VICE: Can you tell me about the Twitter interaction with Charlie Kirk yesterday that led to this madness?

Jesse Farrar: It’s a mythical idea to begin with, that colleges are a bastion of left-wing thought. Even if that were true, the idea that they were like, “Oh that guy has an American flag on his shirt, he gets an F now” is just so dumb. I was just sitting around, and I think I probably phrased it pretty badly—um, I think that’s fair to say. I maybe did not turn the most delicate phrase when I said that conservative students should be drowned. Well, I said their heads should be held underwater until they stop breathing, which, not to split hairs, but it’s not exactly the same thing.

I didn’t say I was going to do it, which seems to be a big misconception. I don’t have access to that much water or college campuses. It would be a logistical nightmare for me to pull that off.

IJR was the first place to write about your tweet. But then FOX & Friends picked it up. Did they ask you to be on the show?

Nah. One guy asked from a campus college magazine [asked me for comment], and I told him I was the president of VICE, but he didn’t print that. Also, that’s not true. Nobody has asked me anything or said anything to me at all. It’s very strange. Either it’s the death threats, or it’s my friends saying, “Wow, that sucks.” But it’s not really anything in the middle.

It’s kind of ironic that you’re getting threats for making a death threat joke.

I would say so.

21 Sep 2017

“Shut Up!” Argued the Daily Princetonian’s Top Editors

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As they disbanded the independent editorial board for publishing editorials dissenting from the Progressive Social Justice Warrior party-line.

The College Fix:

The first conservative-leaning editorial that caused controversy came last fall, when the board criticized the women’s center for programming that solely advanced a radical feminist ideology.

Sarah Sakha, the current editor in chief of the Princetonian who led the decision to disband the board, had written an op-ed at the time denouncing the board’s criticism.

“The Board fails to acknowledge and recognize the valid intersectionality of racism and sexism. In fact, by branding such programming as singularly liberal, the Board perpetuates the harmful politicization of basic questions of human dignity and identity, which lie at the core of these issues,” Sakha wrote last fall.

Sakha, who also contributed to the Princeton Progressive, the Ivy League institution’s left-leaning political publication, became editor in chief of the mainstream Princetonian in February of this year.

Since then, the independent editorial board continued to publish right-of-center opinions.

In March, an editorial agreed upon by a majority of the board defended free speech and critiqued “collective punishment” in the wake of a scandal in which the men’s swimming and diving team was suspended for “several materials” deemed “vulgar and offensive, as well as misogynistic and racist in nature. …

RTWT

23 Aug 2017

“Moved to an As-Yet-Undecided Location Where it Will be Available for Study and Viewing”

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Remember the little architectural joke detail near a previously-little-used entrance to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library that, what with impending more frequent passage of more visitors, earlier this month, was deemed problematically guilty of endorsing European oppression of Native Americans, as well as triggering to hoplophobes, by the powers that be in the library administration, resulting in the Puritan with the blunderbuss being covered over by a large rock, but the sneaky redskin left perfectly free to stalk his adversary with a bow-and-arrow?

The Yale Daily News reports that merely covering half the image with a rock has been found to be inadequate.

Yale will remove from Sterling Memorial Library a stone carving that depicts a Puritan holding a musket to the head of a Native American, University officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes in the wake of widespread criticism of Yale for initially covering the musket with removable stonework. The concealment of the musket was first reported by the Yale Alumni Magazine on Aug. 9.

Rather than alter the image, the University now plans to move the stonework — which is located near the entrance to the recently renovated Center for Teaching and Learning — to an as-yet-undecided location where it will be available for study and viewing.

You have to hand it to the Yale Administration.

The decision to cover the musket was made by employees in Yale’s facilities division who were involved in the renovation of the Center for Teaching and Learning, said Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor.

“They were told to figure out how to remove it, and they thought it was going to be too difficult to remove,” O’Connor said. “So they thought, ‘We know it’s controversial, we’ll figure it out, we’re can-do people, and we will cover it.’”

O’Connor declined to name the Yale officials involved in that decision. But she said the employees were unaware of the University’s principles for renaming, which were outlined in a report released last December.

The report stipulates that the University should contextualize renaming decisions to avoid “erasing history.” The covering of the musket contradicted that principle, Yale officials say.

In a statement on Tuesday, University President Peter Salovey said Yale should not “make alterations to works of art on our campus.”

“Such alteration represents an erasure of history, which is entirely inappropriate at a university,” Salovey said. “We are obligated to allow students and others to view such images, even when they are offensive, and to study and learn from them.”

They are not “altering” the work of art that is Sterling Memorial Library. They are not “erasing history.” No, no, no, they are merely “moving” it “to an as-yet-undecided location where it will be available for study and viewing.”

One expects that it won’t be all that long before people guilty of Wrong Think will not be exiled or purged, they will just be “moved to an as-yet-undecided location [one much resembling Siberia] where they will be available for study and viewing.”

RTWT

02 Jul 2017

What She Said!

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Theater critic Hedy Weiss

Kyle Smith, at National Review, reflects on the over-the-top reaction from Chicago theatrical circles to some modest remarks in defense of the local police by one of the windy cities leading critics.

In Chicago, where there were more homicides last year than in Los Angeles and New York City combined, expressing any support whatsoever for the police is now considered an outrage. Should you point out that, say, a play seems to suggest cops are evil crackers, you may find yourself denounced as a racist and targeted for abuse and ostracization.

A theater writer has just found that out. In what the website American Theatre dubbed “the review that shook Chicago,” adding in a subhead that “Local theatre artists rise in revolt,” veteran theater critic Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized a new play called Pass Over, which I haven’t seen but is being described as a kind of update of Waiting for Godot filtered through the sensibility of Black Lives Matter. The play, by Antoinette Nwandu, was mounted by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, perhaps the most celebrated outfit of its kind outside of New York City. Weiss found its racial politics to be a bit reductionist, and offered these thoughts in her review:

    No one can argue with the fact that this city (and many others throughout the country) has a problem with the use of deadly police force against African-Americans. But, for all the many and varied causes we know so well, much of the lion’s share of the violence is perpetrated within the community itself. Nwandu’s simplistic, wholly generic characterization of a racist white cop (clearly meant to indict all white cops) is wrong-headed and self-defeating. Just look at news reports about recent shootings (on the lakefront, on the new River Walk, in Woodlawn) and you will see the look of relief when the police arrive on the scene.

Cue unbridled rage. Steppenwolf charged her with “deep-seated bigotry.” An actor named Bear Bellinger announced that he would not perform if Weiss showed up at a workshop production he was appearing in. An ad-hoc coalition that might as well have dubbed itself the Blackball Hedy Movement (but is actually called the Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition, or CTAC) launched a petition via change.org to organize the theater world of Chicago against Weiss by denying her invitations to its plays. Several theater organizations have publicly agreed to join the blackballing effort, and dozens have offered noncommittal statements of support. The group’s broadside against Weiss reads, “Over the last few years especially, we have joined together to make it clear that inappropriate language or behavior does not have a place within our community, and that prejudice of any kind will not stand.”

Wait a minute — inappropriate behavior? Inappropriate language? Weiss cannot reasonably be accused of either of these things. She isn’t disrupting plays. She isn’t using curse words and slurs in her reviews. She isn’t, as far as I know, belching loudly during shows nor unwrapping candies during quiet moments. CTAC should be honest with itself and admit that its charge against Weiss is that she is thinking inappropriate thoughts. It was less than two years ago that Steppenwolf mounted a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. Do these people not recognize their kinship with the thought police? Do they not see that “Shut up” is not an argument?

To join the Hedy Weiss Resistance seems self-defeating on the one hand and pointless on the other — she could, after all, simply buy tickets to the plays, and pass along the cost to her employers (the Sun-Times pledged such support in its editorial defending her). Moreover, if she actually were successfully kept away from plays in Chicago, those plays would lose the publicity fillip of being written about in a widely read newspaper.

And what part of Weiss’s review is indefensible? Is not most of the violence perpetrated against blacks in Chicago, and elsewhere, carried out by other blacks? Of course it is. I won’t bother to cite statistics because everyone knows this. Do not ordinary law-abiding black citizens respond with relief when mayhem is answered by the arrival of police? To say otherwise would be to charge black communities with valuing bloodshed more than order. As for whether the portrayal of the cop in the play is meant to indict all police officers, or whether that portrayal is simplistic and generic, I couldn’t say, not having seen the play. But expressing opinions on the depth and subtlety of a play is what all theater critics do. …

The theater world is a place where being “subversive” and “transgressive” are considered the highest of all virtues. But what’s going on in Chicago is a reminder is that greasepaint revolutionaries can barely handle even mild intellectual opposition. They picture themselves riding bravely into the battlefield of ideas. But if anyone shows up to fight for the other side, they cry meekly, “Excuse me, I don’t think you’re allowed here.”

31 Jan 2017

Times Have Changed

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Bird Dog & Ace:

I remember back in the old days, public conversations between liberals and conservatives usually went something like this:

1. liberal: says something
2. conservative: responds
3. liberal: you’re a racist | sexist | bigot | pejorative du jour
4a. conservative: I am not a racist | sexist | bigot | pejorative du jour
4b. conservative attempts to give evidence for statement 4a.
5. liberal: not good enough
6. Goto step 3

The new, Trump-era “honey badger conservative” playbook appears to be this:

1. conservative: says something
2. liberal: you’re a racist | sexist | bigot | pejorative du jour
3. conservative: fuck you.

18 May 2016

“Students Create ‘Healing’ Space to Recover from a Speech They Didn’t Even Attend “

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UCal1

Katherine Timpf, at National Review, reports on a new record in something-or-other set by students at Cal State-LA.

Students at California State University–Los Angeles have set up a “healing” space to deal with pain they were caused by having Ben Shapiro speak on campus — even though that speech was three months ago and most of them didn’t even go.

“On February 25th, our campus experienced immense hurt and trauma,” states the description for the event, which will take place on Tuesday night.

“Almost two months later, students are still feeling the emotional, mental, and physical effects that this event posed, and nothing has been done to facilitate our healing,” it continues. “How can we help each other heal and move forward? How were you affected emotionally, physically, psychologically?”

Here’s the real kicker: According to Young Americans for Freedom program officer Amy Lutz, who attended the event, most — maybe even all — of the kids involved in this event didn’t even go to the damn speech.

16 May 2016

Does Academia Discriminate Against Conservatives?

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WilliamHSimon
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.

WILLIAM H. SIMON

Stanford, Calif.

The writer is a professor at Columbia Law School.

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