Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Notes from the Left University

A number of commenters from my post on James Piereson's article on the left university suggested that Piereson was not accurately reflecting the situation on campus. Here's an email from Galley Friend D.D., who's an undergrad right now:
As far as your commentary on Piereson's article, remind me to tell you sometime about the utterly worthless undergraduate degree I'm getting right now. Heck, I even had the joy of having a sociology professor (self-described as "ethnic" to avoid the stigma of being Caucasian) tell the class on the eve of the war in Iraq that if the American people were real patriots we'd "overthrow the corporate junta now ruling Washington" and set up a "real democratic society." Of course, the individual in question also told us after the last election that the US was "doomed" and that the American people were "caught in the thrall of their Semitic war god."

To be fair, the students ignore 99% of this crap . . .


Anonymous said...

That's exactly the point -- while you get a fair amount of so-called liberal proselytizing on most campuses, especially from junior faculty, I can count on the fingers of zero hands the number of friends and acquaintances who were persuaded to shift their politics to the left by attending college. I know a number of kids who came to college leaning Democratic but who found homes for themselves in campus Republican and conservative organizations. I know lots of kids who were Republicans in college but who became Democrats after graduation. I know no one who heard a prof or a teaching assistant spout Oliver Stone-style leftist crap and was persuaded.

Anyway, anecdotal accounts of individual profs ranting on politics doesn't prove anything. I heard far more libertarian political diatribes from my economics profs than I ever heard liberal political diatribes from my sociology, anthropology, history, or literature profs. Does my experience prove a widespread libertarian bias on campus? Of course not. If there's a massive liberal bias on American campuses, but it doesn't have any effect on any actual people, so what?

It's all just an excuse for the most insecure conservatives to maintain their cherished illusion of being a persecuted minority despite the fact that they've been running America for the last generation. "Sure, we have the government, the churches, most civic organizations, and the media, but there are liberals in the colleges! And they're oppressing us!"

Anonymous said...

I'm diggin' the way Anon. simulatenously decries and relies on the use of anecdotal evidence. Way to go, brotherman. It really bolsters the point about cherished illusions.

Bizarro Jack said...

You can disprove a broad statement with an anecdote trivially, e.g.

- "All dogs are brown"
- "But my dog is white"

This is valid logic. He didn't respond with another broad statement (he clearly states that he does not believe colleges are infected with Libertarian bias).

The last paragraph has no anecdote, it's an unsupported generalization with no offer of proof (although somewhat qualified by "the most insecure conservatives," so a few examples could support the statement, although it would still be of limited applicability).

Ralphie said...

Um, conservatives have the media?

Anonymous said...

BJ: You're point is well taken, but I think it may be misplaced. If there is a broad statement in play, it's "although I concede a leftward bias in the academy, it does not alter anybody's political orientation." Anon. 1 then offers as evidence his anecdotal account of how libertarian proselytizing did not affect him. That's not an anecdotal refutation of a broad statement; it's a (rather incongruous) use of anecdotal evidence in support of a broad statement.

You're right, of course, about the final graf.

Anonymous said...

First time I've heard a liberal complain about not "having the churches". I thought radical liberalism decried such practices (religion) as mind-numbing for the masses. Also, I wasn't aware that a "generation" was only 5 years long. Who knew? To be fair, though, it probably has felt like a lifetime since Bush was elected, for people like this guy.

Anonymous said...


Bizarro Jack said...

ralphie: Good point about the media; The conservatives have more media now than they used to, but they don't have "the media" at all.

anon 2,5:
I somehow looked right past the suggestion that no one is swayed by left-leaning universities. Piereson does suggest that it's a very widespread problem, so you'd think people should be able to come up with anecdotes that suppport it.
It's a poor counterargument to say that no one is swayed, but I think the point would be that there is a competition of ideas, and for lack of examples, it is hard to assert that there is a problem from bias in university faculty. So maybe anon 1 hasn't proven anything, but it's something worth considering, just as the liberal prosyletizing is worth talking about.

I'm sure many people have been swayed, honestly, and more left than any other direction. From my perspective, the ideas become more prominent based simply on their own merit and it's a non-problem though.

I started college as a republican and came out much more liberal, but I haven't seen what my professors or classes had to do with it. Interacting with friends, and hearing about other people's problems made me much more sympathetic to liberal issues. Getting a good job easily as a well educated white person in america while seeing exactly who it is that doesn't have all that, and why, cinched the deal.

So do any of you have some college story about some friend you had to stop inviting to the country club after he got brainwashed in college and voted for Clinton or Dukakis or something? (I am kidding around about this ostracism/country club stuff, with me or against me, dont take that seriously)

Anonymous said...

Check out Victor Davis Hanson in OpinionJournal

It's hard to see how you can read that and not see how the Left Universities have degraded the standards. People here complaining that the problem isn't the politics, it's the souless search for money (and free beer) are missing the point - the lack of standards, and lack of caring about the truth-with-a-capital-T is precisely due to the politicization of the universities carried out by the Left in the late '60's.

Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ people! Can we just try to stay on topic? For, like, one minute?!?

Jonathan V. Last reads the New Yorker. The NEW FREAKIN' YORKER.

This kind of heterodox thinking will lead to anarchy. ANARCHY, Goddammit!


Anonymous said...

Ralphie, in what sense do conservatives not "have the media"? Seems like they certainly have the television.