How Conservatives View Higher Ed (Just the Links for now)

Pew came out with a new study a couple of days ago about partisan views of higher ed. They found that Republicans increasingly have a negative view of higher education.

A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.

I’ve got parenting things to do this morning, so for the moment I’m simply give you some links:

Dan Drezner

Megan McArdle

Controversy can ruin a college. Mizzou has had a huge drop in enrollment.

Related: Google is paying professors for research that benefits Google.

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96 thoughts on “How Conservatives View Higher Ed (Just the Links for now)

  1. It’s been a problem for the left over the past 50 years that a number of the institutions they took over subsequently collapsed, such as the mainstream media and the mainline churches. We’ll see what happens to the elite universities.

    The local colleges, which offer degrees in medical office billing, and which educate the majority of students, aren’t going to be directly affected, but there could be spillover effects if government and private support for higher education diminishes.

  2. I think a subset of middle class white people has isolated itself in suburbs and made a virtue of being afraid, while projecting their worst traits on others and looking for offense but demanding nobody be offended by what they do. But I guess that’s being divisive. Still, I’ve seen the BLM protestors and I’ve seen the people lined up to for Trump’s campaign event. The former included a couple of kids who used to ref the kiddie soccer games my son played, were more polite, and looked less like they would die if they had to walk six blocks on a hot day.

    Anyway, if they want to stop funding the state universities here (which they almost did under the last Republican governor), I don’t know how to stop them short of never, ever voting Republican. If they succeed in ending the funding, I don’t know what they think will happen for the better for them. Just this one university employs more people than every coal mine in the whole state. And, if you count people coming from other countries to pay tuition as an import, which I think you do, it has a huge positive impact on the trade balance. The highest paid, most liberal professors and employees are far more able to move and find another similar job than the workers who support the university or the city.

    I don’t think Drezner’s language about needing to learn how to talk to conservatives is helpful. Functionally, there are no conservatives left in positions of influence in the Republican party unless you abuse the English language enough to count “wanting to radically restructure the social and political order” as “conservative.” The word his is looking for is “shithead”. We need to learn to talk to shitheads. It should probably be phrased more nicely, but the way to respond when you are continually and repeated attacked is to fight back.

    1. Drezner’s point was that academics need to connect with ordinary voters, not people in positions of influence in the Republican party. It was poll results that he was addressing, not legislative maneuvering. I suspect MH thinks that ordinary Republican voters are all shitheads too. I’ll leave that one alone, but I do want to proclaim loudly that at 6’3” and 172 lbs., I can definitely walk six blocks.

    2. “The highest paid, most liberal professors and employees are far more able to move and find another similar job than the workers who support the university or the city.”

      The workers (and rest of the populace of an area) do support the university and calling them shitheads, makes them less supportive. Shocking.

      I think people rightly deride conservative white males who try to paint themselves as victims. I think that same derision should be applied to university employees who try to paint themselves as victims.

  3. There isn’t a serious attempt at looking for common ground. It’s just Republicans scouting for weakness and potential fractures in the opposing coalition.

  4. The question seems an odd one to use for attitudes supporting education, which seems to be what Laura is talking about. It asks about the effect of the institutions on the way things are going in the country. That isn’t the same as do you value education.

  5. Drezner makes a good point that the real test of whether this opinion shift is meaningful is if conservatives stop sending their kids to elite colleges. Is this happening, in any meaningful way?

    I do think it happens a bit at lower tier, less prestigious schools. My BIL and his family are right-wingers and have a daughter in high school who is in the middle of her college search. On one hand they deride higher education institutions as bastions of liberal thought, providing frivolous educations in Feminazi Art History and Cultural Studies of the Late 20th Century. On the other hand, they are as worried as anyone about their children’s futures and know that college is an important, if not prerequisite, step toward stable employment. Their solution is to send their children to one of the shittier out-state satellite campuses instead of the flagship campus in the city, even though they can afford the latter and know it is a much better school with infinitely more opportunities. They really get some satisfaction from feeling like they’re sticking it to “us” (liberals in general? the school? the state?) by purposefully not sending their child to the better school. Gotcha libtards!

    On an individual basis, these decisions don’t matter much, but across all conservatives, it’s hard to see how their cause will be helped by knowingly sending their children to college or opting out of it altogether.

    1. So many people who have never stepped foot on a campus, or haven’t done so since Reagan’s astrologist made peace with Gorby, “know” things about universities that apparently my having been affiliated with one or another for the past 28 years can’t rebut.

    2. The recent Inside Higher Ed article mentioned parents who chose to send their daughter to Stanford rather than Yale. Obviously choices are made at the margin, and I can visualize changes in the relative rankings of various universities based on their perceived degree of left-wing intolerance. It is possible for institutions to experience relative decline due to perceived unseriousness, including goofy left-wing politics. Wesleyan, for example, used to be mentioned in the same breath with Amherst and Williams, but no one would do that now.

      Whether perceived left-wing intolerance correlates very well with the actuality of lived experience on a particular campus is unclear. Salovey has certainly chosen to double down on left-wing indoctrination and suppression of dissenting opinion. On the other hand, most students, and to my understanding most faculty members, don’t have much interaction with the president and aren’t much affected by his priorities. So I don’t know whether it makes sense to prefer Stanford over Yale on those grounds.

      On the day (if it ever comes) when Yale slips to 6 or 7 in the US News rankings, we’ll know.

      1. Stanford vs Yale is clearly a big problem for average “salt of the earth” Americans. After health care but before global warming, lets address the pressing issue of people whose poor children only got accepted to Yale and not Stanford and were thus forced to go there.

  6. Great idea! Here’s how it goes:

    Trump voters: “I think you are fundamentally inferior to me, and being chattel was the best thing that happened to you.” (women, black people).
    “Great. Tell me how you really feel. How can I help ease your pain of no longer having my inferiority legally encoded?”

    TV: “I think you’re mentally ill and the world was better off when people like you were lobotomized.” (LGBTQ people)
    “Tell me again how I’m going to hell and gross you out. I’d hold your hand but, no homo”

    TV: “GTFO. Your physical presence nauseates me and you don’t belong here.” (to nonwhite immigrants whose ancestors didn’t happen to come >80 years ago).
    “Lovely. I’m so sorry you had to gaze upon my brown visage and hear a language that isn’t English. I’ll go deport myself now.”

    MH is right. If you’re a Trump voter, you’re a shithead where it counts. I don’t care if you’re polite in daily life to other (white) people or hold the door for your grandmother. A way forward that involves reincorporating institutionalized apartheid into our society isn’t one I’m interested in pursuing.

    1. I don’t even know how to stop people from being racist and homophobic. I was thinking more narrowly and less optimistically. How about stop undermining every institution they cannot absolutely control (media, universities, etc.), not deliberately undermining democracy by shoulding “voter fraud” on the one hand and colluding with foreign agents to affect the election on the other, and not treating one coal mining job as something worth trading for dozens of jobs in nuclear power, natural gas, or solar?

      Go back to being ordinary-level shitheads, as step 1.

    2. I suppose I should be more enraged at the racists and homophobes and the like, but I really don’t see much hope there. If somebody is going to take “Mexicans are rapists” as their starting point on an immigration debate, I don’t see what you can do with them except wait for them to die. I think the right place to focus ire is on people who voted Trump thinking they were somehow still separate from the deporables. Making it clear that there is no divider in the basket is important. The most absurd stuff I read lately are editorials asking for centrist movement but making it clear “the center” is to be defined as “everything the Republicans want, but with a foreign policy that doesn’t involve so many deliberate insults to our trading partners. The argument is: “Trump is a shithead, we must give the people who voted for him what all they want and hurt those who were the only reliable forces against him.” It’s better than white supremacy, which is one of the few hurdles is clears, but at least the NYT wont’ pay somebody to write a white supremacist editorial.

  7. TL:DR hatred is undone by asking the hated to cater to the irrational fears of the haters. Considering that women, POC, queers, immigrants, etc make up a large percentage of “liberals,” that’s precisely what people like Drezner are asking.

  8. McMegan weighs in! https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-07-11/conservatives-are-souring-on-colleges-blame-colleges
    I myself tend to hark back to my own view of good old days: went to Berkeley in the late 60s and early 70s. We had public lectures from a wide variety of people, and thought it was fine that pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian speakers could speak from behind the same lectern on different days. I still think it was fine.
    Now, as a Johnson voter, I’m not sure where I fit on the ‘shithead where it counts’ spectrum, but I’m right here and don’t intend to quiet down.

  9. Conservatives are anti-intellectual know-nothings. News at 11.

    Seriously, if there is a more dog-bites-man story, I’d be hard pressed to find it.

    1. I guess technically the collusion with foreign powers to win elections isn’t new either if you count Nixon’s sabotage of peace talks in Vietnam before the 1968 election.

    2. Krugman’s point, essentially, that the modern Republican Party is incompatible with the mission of the modern university, even in apolitical subjects.

      Will this damage the university as an institution. I don’t think so, as long as the elite of all political views still want elite educations and the American university still attracts the elite from other countries. One might see more polarization – will Stanford and Yale became more different?

      1. So you’re saying that that there’s no place for Eugene Volokh and Greg Mankiw in the modern university? May I ask what your own intellectual credentials are, to compare?

      2. To make a point in a way I really wish seemed like as much of a ridiculous exaggeration as it did in 2012, saying “look at Martin Heidegger” really isn’t an argument against the notion the Nazi party was incompatible with the mission of a modern university.

      3. I think seeing appreciable differences between Stanford and Yale is more a reflection of extreme elitism and class myopia reflective of our hyper inequality than anything else.

      4. I used “modern Republican Party” deliberately. I don’t know if Volokh and Mankiw still identify as Republicans, but if they do, they do not seem to represent the direction of the party on the national (or, in many cases, state) stages. I also don’t know them well enough to vouch personally for the intellectually honesty of their work. In my world view, intellectual honesty means being driven by the evidence on topics for which evidence is relevant. Sometimes lawyers and economists are charged with advocacy not analysis, which, in turn can mean making a case for a point of view, rather than letting the evidence lead you to the most supported conclusion.

        Being an advocate for a point is not dishonorable, but it is different from the goal in evidence based analysis — Millikan working repeatedly to confirm what he thought was the charge of the electron (being an advocate) but then being forced by the data to reconsider is an example of the difference. Millikan acted as both an advocate and a scientist during the course of those experiments.

      5. I believe that the Republican Party has deliberately turned away from an evidence-based understanding of our world. In some cases one could be aware of the evidence (for example, implementation of the death penalty results in the occasional conviction and potential execution of people who are not guilty of the crime, or that the availability of guns in the home increases gun deaths) and nevertheless chose the political position chosen by the party (support of the death penalty, support of gun rights). So choosing would be intellectually honest, even when I disagree.

        I think that the intellectual who doesn’t support the policies of the Democratic party is in a difficult position at this point in history.

    3. OK, Mr. Intellectual, can you give me lines from Virgil? How about Sappho? (I’d settle for Shakespeare.) What is the metrical pattern for an Alexandrine? Can you tell me the integral of e to the 2x? Can you tell me the holding of Hochfelder v. Ernst & Ernst? Can you tell me the two basic principles Rawls deduces for the just state? Don’t look it up.

      Honestly, you pseuds really make me sick.

      1. Responding to a point about university education with a note of all the stuff you have memorized is really about as good of an illustration of the problem as you’ll get.

      2. It kind of reminds me of God’s questions to Job, except God was less smug and had some questions you couldn’t just google.

      3. This list…just reveals how ignorant Conservatives are about what they mock. At least bother to learn about something before making fun of it. Otherwise you might end up with egg on your face.

      4. Really? This is your metric for education? The fact that I know that the integral is e^2x/2 or that King Richard offered to trade his kingdom for a horse in Richard III and Jews bleed the same as everyone else in the Merchant of Venice or that Rawls is concerned with the correct apportionment of liberties and opportunities?

        This, if anything, illustrates my point. The conflation of education with the rote memorization of a list of facts is nothing but vapid anti-intellectualism.

  10. It should surprise no regular visitor here that I align with Y81. It’s my view that a lot of Gramscian pabulum is being dispensed to students whose parents are paying a lot to have them learn very little which will enable them to be confident and successful citizens and adults. You don’t have to learn any one of the things he identified, but you do have to learn SOMETHING. And, yes, memorization gives you the background to integrate your knowledge and make sense of the world around you.

    1. Why would parents continue to pay a lot for their kids to attend schools where they feel like they are learning very little? There is the option to not go. Or go to a religious or avowedly conservative school. Or go to a tech school. There are lots of other options for parents who think that sending their kids to the University of Minnesota is an expensive, wasteful education full of gramsican pabulum. That conservatives parents do keep sending their kids to these schools makes me believe that their supposed fervor over higher ed is mostly grandstanding with little substance.

      1. It’s hard to justify owning a t-shirt with a gopher on it if you don’t send your kids to University of Minnesota.

    2. Who are we talking about here? Most undergrads today are majoring in pre-med, engineering, business, exercise science, pharmacy, computer science, etc. There is very little chance they will encounter “Gramscian pabulum” in their coursework. It’s *my* view that parents are actually hostile to students taking any of the courses that will enable them to be “successful citizens” because those courses purportedly won’t help them to “get a good job/grow their network/advance their brand.”

    3. Just for the record, when my Gramsci-inspired, MARHO member girlfriend of 35 years ago told me that Prince was an organic intellectual of the working class, I knew what she was saying. (Also, I knew that she was joking.)

  11. Under the best-case scenarios that I can see, 2018 through 2024 (at least) are going to be brutal, continual political fighting. Maybe as well learn to take joy from the battle. It’s not like I can stop it.

    1. Right. So what happens after 2024? It seems pretty clear at this point that we really just don’t like each other. We have two increasing polarized factions that want to live in very different kinds of countries, with fewer and fewer people in between. My hope for the long-term is that this is the last gasp of the Boomers. Once they start to die off, Millennials, and the generation that follows them, will become ascendant and things will improve rapidly for “my side.” I also know it’s foolish to count on demographics fixing things and a great many disadvantaged people will be hurt in the interim. Plus, who knows, maybe Generation Z will be hit by the nostalgia bug and become authoritarian racists like their grandparents.

      To sum up, human beings are terrible, one of the less impressive animal species on the planet today.

      1. Gee, I don’t feel that way at all. I have lots of Democratic and/or liberal friends, and some liberal and Democratic bloggers I really admire and enjoy. I’m happy to live in the same country with them.

        I worry that the following generation will be somewhat illiberal and more prone to suppression of speech and expression than I would like, but I won’t be here for much of that, and anyway I could be wrong.

  12. Alright. I’m jumping right in here. I have driving-kids-to-jobs/activities-every-hour-induced-ADHD, so let me get some thoughts down without properly referring to the above conversation. I have about twenty minutes before I take them to IKEA for lunch…

    Megan gets most things very right and some things wrong. She’s dead right that Republicans have increased their hatred of higher ed in recent years because of the protests on college campuses. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of sympathy either for kids who violently attack professors and speakers. Even the milder forms of protest like turning your back on a speaker, really rubs this former pol sci professor the wrong way. I love debate. Love it. Shutting down debate is majorly anti-intellectual and doesn’t belong on a college campus. So, they’ve managed to annoy even this liberal.

    Megan is very right that the alt-right media has had a field day with those protests and terms, like cisgender and safe spaces. And the alternative media has swayed a lot of minds.

    Republicans are also very sympathetic to boys who have been wrongly accused of rape or sexual abuse. (see the Betsy deVos thing today. I’ll blog about it later if I have a chance.)

    It’s not just the traditional Republican fears of attacks on God and country that has increased suspicion. It’s fears that they and their children are in danger on a college campus.

    Now, the reality is that this stuff occupies very little time on a real college campus. It’s an activity of a couple departments and their students on a few college campuses. Political Science professors, for example, are extremely conservative in their behavior and don’t engage in messy protests or dive into matters of intersectionality. Actually, the field is a little too conservative (in behavior, not voting or politics) for me. It’s closer to economics than sociology. Regression analsysis all the time.

    And learning happens in exactly the same way that it has always happened. Introduction to American Government 101 is exactly the same class as it was when I took it in the early 1980s. Sure, now there’s an adjunct in front of the room, but the content is the same.

    But these protests also come at a time when there are similar protests outside the university, which amplifies its impact.

    I don’t think that colleges need to do much to change in order to appease Republicans, because most colleges and faculty aren’t fanning any flames. If a couple of departments happen to have a higher than average number of extreme views, well… whatever. There has to be a place for everyone on a college campus.

    1. Back when I was at Duke, I found out that Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick had been an undergrad at Cornell during the Straight takeover. See here for details on what that involved. Spoiler alert: GUNS. https://media.library.cornell.edu/media/Willard+Straight+Hall+Takeover+and+Student+Protests/1_aiscnmpj

      So one day after class, I went up to her and said, Hey, we both went to Cornell, and you were there during the Straight takeover! What was it like? You know what she said?

      “Oh, I didn’t really notice much about that. I knew it was going on, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.” <–paraphrased from a 28 year old memory

      This is Eve Sedgwick, who went on to be one of the more controversial figures in the academy in the 80s and 90s.

      Don't overestimate the effects of campus protests.

    2. Yes, I’ve always thought that if I had been at Berkeley in the 60’s, I would have been in the lab, where all the DNA folks had gone, and might not have noticed much of what was going outside the test tubes. There would have so much to see there.

    3. Republicans are also very sympathetic to boys who have been wrongly accused of rape or sexual abuse

      There. FTFY.

  13. Though I think the higher education system will survive and continue to thrive in spite of the conservative disapproval, I also believe that there is an existential crisis going on in America. The rhetoric appears in a variety of things I read, and it does stick in my mind: America started with a homogenous group (Christian/White) in control of the “table”, with exploitation of African slaves in support of the groups in control. Over time, agitation, protest, and war resulted in a sharing of that table they owned with others, but as outsiders and guests (even for African-Americans, who were there from the very beginning). Now, White Christians are a minority in the United States. In an inclusive democracy, they will no longer have control of the table to share it with others: they will be negotiating for a place at the table owned, at least equally, by others.

    I think that battle is being fought at the universities and is the root of the deeper divisions (say, for example, driving the Republican party’s effort to limit an inclusive democracy, by putting up barriers to the effectiveness of voting by minorities and Democrats — the data in North Carolina is damning). I think the standards of polite discourse in debate are changing at the University as well, as different groups of people control the levers of power.

    1. The first paragraph is too mild of a way to put a more or less naked attempt to use white supremacist voters and Jim Crow voting rules to gain political power.

  14. My problem is that liberals are the ones upholding Western Civilization and the cannon. We’re the ones who read and teach Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Spinoza, Aquinas, Kant, Hegel, Hume, Locke, Hobbes, Marx, Smith, Montaigne, Montesquieu, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Voltaire, Kierkegaard, Durkheim, Freud etc, etc. Hell, we read Comte, Dilthey, Mueller, von Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Schmitt, Bourdieu, Foucault, etc. You name a dead white male intellectual, we read and teach it. We’re the ones who keep traditional classical liberal education going. We’re the ones who promote knowledge for knowledge’s sake against the forces of belligerent ignorance. We’re the ones who uphold rigor and evidence based knowledge (as bj points out).

    The thing is, we don’t *only* think dead white men have things of value to say. We read all the people mentioned, but we also read *gasp* women, and people from outside the Western world. We think it broadens our perspective, rather than narrows it. We recognize that we are limited humans with limited perspectives, and that there is value in reading and engaging those who come from a different intellectual tradition. Somehow, conservatives are *so* fragile, any acknowledgment that people other than dead white men are worthwhile is an assault on the whole cannon, never mind that the cannon is basically intact, and the wisdom of the dead white males is such that inclusion of others strengthens, rather than weakens it.

    1. This seems like such a fantasy world to me. Allan Bloom didn’t uphold Western civilization and the canon? Donald Kagan? Eugene Volokh? Hilton Kramer? Who are you and what are your credentials, compared to theirs, that you can dismiss them and assert that all erudition proceeds from you and those who share your beliefs on contemporary political issues?

    2. Well, personally, I’d spell canon with 1 N. 😉
      But I do agree with you.
      I am not really sure what y81 is talking about and why he suddenly decided credentialism was an arguing strategy, but I suspect he is reading your post wrong. I read you as saying, Hey, if the belief is that the universities are run by liberals, well, it’s an institution that is primarily teaching the canon, which consists of mainly DWMs, so basically, liberals *are* teaching DWMs. But we also teach other writers who are not DWMs, unlike people in the university before* us who taught only the DWMs and not non-DWMs.
      *Not sure there’s agreement on the meaning of “before.”

      1. Yep. TL:DR anti intellectual liberal academics are a straw man. Importantly, modern Republicans are not the party of western intellectual knowledge, period. Also, any one who claims to be an intellectual conservative cannot do so and simultaneously support the modern Republican Party.

    3. Aren’t you cute with your Spinoza and your Bourdieu? Do really think anybody on either side of the ideological spectrum cares about Schleiermacher?

      This is about culture and economics, not the political ideas of dead white dudes. Even though quite a number of them would able to speak to this topic.

      1. I care about Schleiermacher. Speeches to a Cultured Despiser is one of the best titles in theology, and a good read. But yeah, stay away from the Glaubenslehre.

      2. Sorry, the full title is On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers. Published in 1799. Obviously no one cares about that topic any more.

  15. We have a president actively committing treason, we have people attempting to formally bring back Jim Crow, and it’s pretty apparent a white person can kill any random black person with impunity and not be punished. But the fact that a few 19 year olds on a few elite college campuses are obnoxious is suddenly bringing about the downfall of our country. Yes, 18 year old youths who argue that sushi is cultural appropriation are ridiculous and irritating. They’re also the equivalent of gnats when we’re being bitten by cobras. If Oberlin students are being over the top, it’s a matter of relevance only to the Oberlin campus community. It really has no bearing on what’s happening at Mississippi State University, or for that matter, what health care policy should be.

    On top of that, there are a lot of ways 18 year olds are irritating. They skip class, they walk around in their pajamas. They have melodramatic romantic relationships, and they spend too much time on social media. They drink too much, and have stupidly themed parties. They take some things way too seriously and other things not seriously enough. We were all in our own ways ridiculous as 18 year olds. When 18 year olds get worked up over something stupid, the appropriate reaction is eye rolling.

    1. “If Oberlin students are being over the top”

      FTR, Oberlin students have been over the top since Oberlin was founded. I think it’s written into the college’s charter.

  16. It seems like we’re mostly having the arguments we usually have, but I agree with this: “When 18 year olds get worked up over something stupid, the appropriate reaction is eye rolling.” It’s also true that 18 year olds are quite capable of getting worked up over non-stupid things, because sometimes they’re political long before they get to college.

    At least half of my friends’ teenagers, at 14 or 15 or 16, are able to articulate their disdain for our current president as well as their parents. Of course many of their arguments come from their parents (as we see in the conservative spectrum too), but I’ve talked to some of them at length and it’s not simple parroting. They are also already supportive of LGBTQ rights, and some kids are out in high school. They’re friends with the Muslim kid or the Mormon kid or the immigrant kid or the kid with gay parents and have begun to think about the politics of it. (These are real-life examples from my rural college town.) The “respectful Halloween costume” debate has occurred at the high school level too.

    This is all just to say that “college” will probably have little impact on these kids’ politics. Right now they are geared up and ready to fight for all sorts of liberal values – one 14 year old I know is extremely distressed that she will be just slightly too young to vote in the next presidential election. A couple months ago, she went (and pushed her mother into going) to a “Ready to Run” program more than an hour away, along with two other girls from here. And if it’s true here, I’m guessing it’s true for kids who grow up in NYC or California or the half of the country that’s mostly liberal.

    Interestingly, I also have a couple of very liberal friends who have no desire to send their kids to Ivy schools – they assume they are too snooty and full of obnoxious rich people. In defense of Oberlin: I have a super nice and smart evangelical Christian friend who went there and loved it!

    1. I’ve had to firmly instruct my son not to state his opinion of Trump in public around adults. I’m pretty sure he’s going to do it anyway. He’s not a quiet boy.

      1. He’s not allowed to say ‘shithead’ until we trust him not to say it around his grandmothers.

    1. Believe whatever you want, say whatever you want. Stand on a busy street corner and preach about how the earth is flat and blacks are intellectually inferior and vaccines cause Autism and climate change isn’t real.

      However, no one owes you a public platform bigger than that.

      Once consensus has been generally reached, most curious and scientifically-minded people will want to move on to answering new questions of interest. They are not required to indulge fringe opinions just because the people holding those opinions happen to be politically conservative.

      Conservatives are entitled to say what they want, no one else is obligated to take them seriously or give them a megaphone.

      1. Huh? We’re not talking about students being obliged to listen to someone, we’re talking about students allowing a speaker to speak whom other students invited and want to hear. To continue your analogy, if a street corner speaker has gathered a crowd, and you dislike what he is saying, do you have the right to gather a mob of your friends and throw firebombs until the crowd disperses?

      2. If you hold a controversial public event, you should expect both supporters and detractors to attend. Rudeness isn’t illegal, but if detractors’ behavior rises to the level of illegality have the authorities deal with it.

        If you anticipate the detractors will be distracting enough that you, personally, won’t get what you want out of it, then also hold a separate gathering in a private space and invite only like-minded people.

        This really isn’t that hard.

      3. y81, what you’ve been doing repeatedly is to combine two acts in one sentence and thus indirectly equate them, and that’s problematic. Here’s an example. You wrote:

        “To continue your analogy, if a street corner speaker has gathered a crowd, and you dislike what he is saying, do you have the right to gather a mob of your friends and throw firebombs until the crowd disperses?”

        Do you have the right to
        1. gather a mob of your friends
        and
        2. throw firebombs until the crowd disperses

        #2 is clearly illegal and no one here would support it.
        (An aside: strangely, when protests happen, it’s usually the police who throw tear gas bombs because they don’t like the act of speaking/protesting, but that is, as I said, an aside.)

        #1 is more problematic and gets to what scantee was saying. If the appropriate response to speech is more speech, what’s the problem with people gathering and speaking in response?

        It would be nice if you could stop equating #1 and #2, though I doubt you will.

    2. So you are actively opposing the alt-righters who are killing? Have you done a tally of those killed/assaulted by those suppressing the “unpopular” ideas on the left v the right?

      The problem of violence in political discourse is not a problem of the left.

      1. “The problem of violence in political discourse is not a problem of the left.” Bee Jay, your statement is on its face false. There are problems with violence from both right and left: Here’s the Nation with an article saying mostly rightists are violent: https://www.thenation.com/article/why-does-the-far-right-hold-a-near-monopoly-on-political-violence/ here is National Review with a ‘plague on both their houses’ http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448108/political-extremism-beleaguers-both-left-and-right and Vice reviews recent left violence: https://news.vice.com/story/extremism-experts-are-starting-to-worry-about-the-left
        The attempted assassination of Reep congressional baseball players by a Bernie Bro and the physical attacks by antifas are fresh in memory. Students sending a professor to hospital for having facilitated the Murray talk is a direct assault on free speech. Looks like the left is ratcheting up from a relatively low level, but ratcheting up is not a comforting trend.
        One interesting question is why you are so clueless about this trend – is it just not discussed among your friend group? Does it not fit your world view so you reject it? (“That’s all well and good in practice, but how does it work in theory?”)

      2. I stand by my assertion that the problem of violence is bigger on the right than the left, as, incidentally, does the National Review article (which cites Breitbart and its close ties to the administration as being an instigator of right wing hatred). I am aware of the incident you refer to on campuses, but, you are ignoring many, including the closing of one campus in the state because of right wing threats and the shooting of a protester on UW’s campus by a 2nd amendment activist who brought a gun to a campus that prohibits them, and the NRA advertisement that seems like a call to insurrection.

        In fact, this very thread, and the soul searching of academics on hearing of disapproval is case in point to the differing attitude on the right and left. Is anyone doing any soul searching on the right about the disapproval of some on the left of the police? the FBI? ICE? the Army? The Marines (including the 30K Marine FB site on which photos of female colleagues were shared)? Any concerns within those organizations and calls for listening to opposing viewpoints by organizations those organizations, heavily dominated by conservatives?

        I do not condone violence on college campuses. I think violence or threats of violence against people shouldn’t be used as a political tool. I think shouting people down is not violence and that a community (not government, but a community) can decide its own standards about what discourse is acceptable. Public universities are close enough to government that I think different rules apply to them, and that they should be judged much as we would judge government.

  17. It is very difficult to raise a child when you are trying to raise them to be Christian and patriotic and also need to make it very clear that somebody who trying to appeal to either of those values for political reasons is almost certainly deluded, evil, or somehow found a lost verse of Matthew where the centurion shouts, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

    1. We’re not trying to raise our children as Christian, but we do love this country and what it stands for throughout the world, even with all its flaws. This Fourth, our older kiddo didn’t want to decorate the cake as a flag (as is our tradition) and I and the younger kiddo insisted. I try to remind them of all the good (and the majority in 6/7 of the last presidential elections).

      1. This 4th, we didn’t set off any fireworks, but that was because somebody got burned last year so I guess I wasn’t supervising enough.

    2. Obviously you aren’t reading the Bible in its original American English.

      I can’t remember where I saw this meme, but as someone once said, some Christians really want to post the Ten Commandments everywhere, including courtrooms, but no one is interested in posting the Beatitudes.

      I periodically make myself watch the 700 Club, and it’s fascinating how Pat Robertson was barely able to acknowledge that according to Romans 13 he and other Christians should be subject to Barack Obama since Obama constituted a governing authority. Now the interpretation of that verse presents no problems for him.

  18. Is the antagonistic focus on universities by the right because they are one of the few institutions where the left dominates? where, potentially, the minority status of white christians is most pronounced (not necessarily because they are a minority — it’s difficult to parse the numbers)? or because colleges are the future?

    1. Maybe, but someone (here?) once posited that once college became the only/major way to get a good job, it became this obstacle that has become demonized. I mean, why should people have to *learn* stuff in order to get a decent job?
      Part of me is sympathetic. I teach a lot of kids who have little interest in learning and a lot of interest in making money/working hard at a decent job. And they resent having to learn anything that’s not job-specific. Of course, I try to explain to them that correct grammar is necessary, but they don’t really believe me….

    2. The media is more demonized, by far. I don’t think it’s just anybody who won’t agree to play along or stay silent, gets attacked.

      1. You can literally punch a journalist in cold blood without consequence among the people willing to vote for Trump except them making fun of the journalist.

    3. I think it’s kinda nutty to claim that the left (whatever that might be) dominates universities. Look at where real power and real money reside in any university, and you’re not going to be finding a hotbed of would-be Bolsheviks. Administrations, big-time athletic programs, business schools, law schools, science programs, engineering schools, and on and on; conservatives who are pushing this party line have the sads that they don’t have the kind of Stalinist control that they would like, where every cockamamie idea is greeted with prolonged, stormy applause, and they get to lead everyone down the road to Lysenkoism.

      1. Yes. It really does seem that with Trump claims of fact are being used for what can be called, if you want to be absurdly kind about it, in-group definition and ego maintenance. I think after a lifetime of yes-men, it might actually be painful to have somebody disagree with him.

      2. I think if you told the faculty at any law school other than George Mason that they were conservative, you might end up like Allison Stanger.

      3. Science programs are not politically conservative, and the antagonism towards evidence shown on the right has driven scientists further to the left politically. Evolution, for example, is the underpinning of every biological field, since everything from gene diversity to ion channel function to marine biology has roots in evolution theory. The continued pressure against evolution (even if only by a subsegment of conservatives) ends up tainting the politics of conservatives.

        There is anti-scientific sentiment on the left — vaccines, GMOs, woo of various sorts, but these views are less fundamentally disruptive, since they are, in general, a discussion of facts (vaccines could be dangerous, though they aren’t, . . . .).

        (Oh, and climate change is also a factual dispute, not an ideological one. But, evolution is a different category, as are miracles).

    4. I am sympathetic to the idea that talents other than those emphasized in the academic environment are being devalued in society. Just this morning, I stumbled on a radio broadcast by a bj in Singapore discussing the meritocracy in Singapore: “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Slvq-xqQFSU”. Their “meritocracy” is different from ours — closer to credentialing than to the intellectual curiosity that I hold with such high esteem. But, they are rethinking their commitment to a single definition of merit.

      I think very highly of creative, curious, inquiring minds, value them tremendously, and think that they are well suited to meeting the challenges in a rapidly changing world (and, I don’t define these values in credentialing). But, if we try to categorize talents, I recognize others as being pretty important, too, including a capacity for risk-taking, making connections, hard work, kindness, . . . .

      In my own family, the curiosity is what we do for fun, not just a life skill. It’s not fair to expect that everyone else’s fun be the same as mine, or only the talent that is intrinsic and nurtured in my gene pool and family culture be of value in defining merit. To the extent that universities contribute to that fallacy (and, I don’t blame them much for it, since it is the judging of others that is the bigger problem). Many educational institutions, including the one I am most familiar with, fight rigorously to avoid the labelling and broadening the definition of merit.

      1. I may regret sharing this, but I came across a character strengths survey here: http://www.viacharacter.org/www/
        I have some unscientific thoughts on its validity, but first I’d like to see what you and/or others think. I did it and I had my husband and kids do it; results were interesting. I wish E had saved his, so he can only go by what he remembers. His #1 character strength was fascinating to me.
        I also learned about it in the context of a discussion of how to parent and teach kids with ADHD and on the spectrum, fwiw.

  19. Freddie deBoer had a really good write-up on the effect this is likely to have on higher-ed funding: the mass defunding of higher education that’s yet to come. (Spoiler: it’s not good.)

    To the extent this paragraph is true (and I have no way of verifying his claims), its an interesting statement about the conservative nature of the academy and how it is unlikely to rescue the academy from political conservative opposition:

    Meanwhile, in my very large network of professional academics, almost no one recognizes any threat at all. Many, I can say with great confidence, would reply to the poll above with glee. They would tell you that they don’t want the support of Republicans. There’s little attempt to grapple with the simple, pragmatic realities of political power and how it threatens vulnerable institutions whose funding is in doubt. That’s because there is no professional or social incentive in the academy to think strategically or to understand that there is a world beyond campus. Instead, all of the incentives point towards constantly affirming one’s position in the moral aristocracy that the academy has imagined itself as. The less one spends on concerns about how the university and its subsidiary departments function in our broader society, the greater one’s performed fealty to the presumed righteousness of the communal values. I cannot imagine a professional culture less equipped to deal with a crisis than that of academics in the humanities and social sciences and the current threats of today. The Iron Law of Institutions defines the modern university, and what moves someone up the professional ranks within a given field is precisely the type of studied indifference to any concerns that originate outside of the campus walls.

    1. I cannot imagine a professional culture less equipped to deal with a crisis than that of academics in the humanities and social sciences and the current threats of today.

      The main current threats today are found in the Republican Party and I don’t mean threats to academic funding. You could call this ‘affirming one’s position in the moral aristocracy’ or you can call it “reading the newspaper and forming the obvious conclusion.”

      The universities aren’t full of people with studied indifference to concerns outside it. They are full of people engaged in the outside world but in a much broader way the average Republican voter. I went to graduate school in a social science and was taught by more than one professor who served in Republican administrations. There is none of that now. Academia didn’t change. The Republican Party has gone literally nuts.

    2. I also see the threats as being seated in the Republican party (and associated entities), the party itself, from its lack of plan for governing, while having amassed almost exclusive power in national and state governments (as Jennifer Rubin wrote at WaPo, it matters whether you have power or not), from the aggressive moves to limit voter rolls and undermining belief in the integrity of elections, from gerrymandering, from the NRA, and its growing call for violence against opposing points of view, from the white nationalists, from the misogyny that makes the womanhood of any opponent who happens to be a woman the target of antagonism (Limbaugh’s comment on the “leftist” women Capito, Murkowski, and Collins).

      The list is endless, but, the most important part is that the Republicans are in charge, so the reflex reaction to complain about other institutions (the academy, sanctuary cities, . . . .) is simply misguided. I am simply not interested in aggressive navel gazing to make more perfect our flawed liberal institutions, in the hopes of what exactly, that perfection will bring power to battle the forces that could fundamentally destroy the American experiment? I’ll still call out violence when I see it. I’d argue that this kind of talk of liberal institutions being concerned only with a “moral aristocracy” is precisely the kind of inward focus that results in yielding power to the forces that oppose you.

    3. DeBoer has given the best one paragraph precis of Barbara Tuchman’s book March of Folly that I have ever seen. It’s splendid! But go read the book, to have the point hammered home. Arnold Kling, who is like me hostile to the Gramscian twaddle put forth in classes in most universities, said the following at his blog: “I tell friends that if I had an 18-year-old child today, I would be tempted to try home schooling for college. Just go with YouTube and avoid the indoctrination centers.

      As a check on myself, I regularly ask college students and very recent graduates if things are as bad as they are portrayed in conservative media. The modal answer is that indeed the faculty and a minority of students are very far left and very obnoxious about it, but if you are conservative or moderate you can work around the radical leftists.

      My sense is that the people in charge of those institutions are past the point of caring what Republicans or conservatives think of them. Students are still clamoring to get in, so why change?”

      My kids are going to midlevel striver colleges (George Mason and James Madison) where the rot is not so profound, and I am happy about that. DeBoer’s suggestion of the path to advancement within the academy which comes from ‘performed fealty’ matches my perception very clearly. Can people understand the harm which Melissa Click did to Mizzou, by stripping away the veil? Probably not.

      1. Somehow, one remark by one professor pulls back the veil on academia, but electing somebody to the White House who brought back open racism to American political discourse and we really can’t know if the Republican Party is racist?

      2. Well, the KC Star says “Many of the same actions taken to answer the complaints of protesters served to annoy legislators who already saw the school as a liberal sanctuary propped up by taxpayers.

        All the while, would-be Tiger freshmen and their parents looked for a college with less drama.” So that seems like evidence of the harm to Mizzou, at least to me. YMMD, of course. “Worst enrollment performance of any state flagship in the country” said the governor.

        This seems to me to be experimental evidence.

  20. Doesn’t quite fit your narrative, Dave S., but the New York Times is reporting the drop in enrollment at Mizzou is at least partly due to the perception it was racist:

    “Students of all races have shunned Missouri, but the drop in freshman enrollment last fall was strikingly higher among blacks, at 42 percent, than among whites, at 21 percent.”

    “Aly Zuhler’s mother and cousins went to Missouri, and her mother would have liked for her to go there as well, she said. But Ms. Zuhler, who is Jewish and grew up in suburban St. Louis, said she could not stomach going to a place where blacks and Jews might feel unwelcome.”

    “Tyler Morris, a white student from St. Louis, said he was afraid of being stereotyped as a bigot if he went to Missouri. So he decided to go to Missouri Valley College, “just down the road” in Marshall.”

    Mostly anecdotal, and there are fewer African Americans so the sheer number of fewer white students is larger, but still the picture is much more complex than you are acknowledging.

    1. Amazing, how when New York Times reporters venture into foreign territory like Missouri, wherever it be, they manage to find a liberal Jew concerned about anti-Semitism. That must be the reason for the enrollment declines at Mizzou. It couldn’t be typical Missourians (white, middle-class, conservative), and it certainly couldn’t be anything the university did wrong. It must be the racist students.

      1. The university fired Click. Should they have hung her?

        I’ve been surrounded by white, middle-class, conservative people my whole life. I’m still trying to figure out why so many turned into bedwetters.

      2. “..fired Click. Should they have hung her?..” Well, that’s beyond their jurisdiction. They probably did themselves some good, in a stop-the-bleeding kind of a way, by having her firing in the news. And Mizzou has now noticed that there are barbarians at the gates! But it’s my memory that some other university hired Click, who will maybe be the Typhoid Mary of academic unrest…

      3. They are very deliberately undermining the economic and political arrangements that have given world order structure since 1945 and as well as the checks and balances that are in the Constitution. Apparently no “conservatives” have minded this enough to do anything because conservatism now means an effort to under civil rights era voting procedures that ended Jim Crow. You can go ahead and pretend this is some Strausian bunch of deep thinkers looking back at the glories of Greece (I’m sure there’s at least one), but it is Bull Connor’s party now.

      4. Sure, the quotes are anecdotal. I believe I pointed that out. That doesn’t mean they are not representative. Missouri has plenty of liberals, and young people are on average more liberal than their parents or grandparents. What I would guess is that some of the students who chose not to enroll did so from a right wing point of view, and others from a left wing point of view. And others had no point of view but just associated Mizzou with bad press. It seems like you and Dave S think that’s impossible though. That’s why the anecdotal data is powerful–it proves the absolute contrary wrong. Unless the New York Times is manufacturing quotes now.

        But you completely ignored the actual numbers cited re fall 2016 enrollment. Or are you suggesting that the missing African American enrollees are giving Mizzou a skip because they thought the protests indicated Mizzou was too left wing? Curious, do you ever read the African American press? Because I wouldn’t want you to be as confused about the views of a large portion of the American populace as we liberals supposedly are about the white working class.

      5. Have you ever lived in Missouri? If you had, I suspect you wouldn’t try to talk about a “typical Missourian.” Probably a third of my high school class went to Mizzou, some for its excellent journalism program, some in whatever version of the honors college there was then, some to get a straightforward degree, and some for football. 43% of Missourians voted for Clinton in 2016. Also, there are plenty of non-whites in the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas, which make up a large portion of the population. The percentage of Jews is lower than in your neck of the woods, but they are not non-existent. So yes, you certainly might see a decline in enrollment for a variety of different reasons.

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