Home | Away

On the road again

My apologies, folks, but I don’t have time to do a real blog entry today.  I’ve been home for 48 hours now, and you know what that means—it’s time to hit the road again!  This time I’m off to Washington, D.C. to meet the powerful and mysterious Rox Populi.  John McGowan will be there, too.  We should be able to settle this whole Butler-Nussbaum thing over dinner, while offering theories as to why the music of 1981 sucked with such a high degree of suckitude.  Then tomorrow I’m in lovely northern Virginia to conduct some Secret Business.  It’s making me very nervous and I can’t tell you what it is, so you’re free to assume that it involves national security matters and “safe houses,” as do all things in northern Virginia.

So I don’t have time to attempt a full-dress response to this recent essay by KC Johnson.  Instead, I’m going to ask you all to give it a look, and offer your suggestions as to how it testifies to the Plight of the Modern Conservative Intellectual.  Here’s a hint: think of the major conservative “intellectual” movement of our time.  Now explain why KC Johnson doesn’t mention it.

Johnson writes:

Inside Higher Ed recently reported on four University of Pittsburgh professors critiquing the latest survey suggesting ideological one-sidedness in the academy. According to the Pitt quartet, self-selection accounts for findings that the faculty of elite disproportionately tilts to the Left.  “Many conservatives,” the Pitt professors mused, “may deliberately choose not to seek employment at top-tier research universities because they object, on philosophical grounds, to one of the fundamental tenets undergirding such institutions: the scientific method.”

Imagine the appropriate outrage that would have occurred had the above critique referred to feminists, minorities, or Socialists.

Um, OK, I’ll try, but I’m not convinced that, say, the Intelligent Design movement has all that much to do with feminists or minorities or Socialists.  I tend to think that the scandal of ID is pretty well confined to the conservative end of the ideological spectrum.  The intelligently designed ball is in your court, folks.  The ravings of people like Grover Furr and the fringes of the Monty Python Left may be my problem, sure enough, but the ravings of the ID crowd are your problem, as is the recent endorsement of those ravings by your President.

Hendrik Hertzberg was divinely inspired on the subject of ID a few weeks ago, by the way.  Hey, I wonder what he thinks about the plight of conservatives in academe.

Posted by on 08/30 at 09:06 AM
  1. Well, if you actually meet Roxanne you’ll be one up on me.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/30  at  10:45 AM
  2. Chris:

    I’m holding you as an excuse to get away from the inlaws at Christmas. There’s only so much Contra Costa I can take.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  08/30  at  11:26 AM
  3. ”...only so much Contra Costa I can take”?

    Geez, Chris, does that mean you’ll have to quick stuff her in the truck and take her to Berkeley? Or at least Albany?

    Posted by Ron Sullivan  on  08/30  at  01:01 PM
  4. As a native Berkeleyan, I once had a similar contra Contra Costa attitude.  Just one of the many things that moving to Oklahoma changes…

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  01:04 PM
  5. As a native Berkeleyan, I once had a similar contra Contra Costa attitude.

    Me too, until the yuppies drove up the price of housing in Berkeley and I was forced out to Contra Costa.

    Ron, West County doesn’t count. Just ask anyone from Walnut Creek. Still, I’ll bring Roxanne over to your place. (Tell Joe to start baking.)

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/30  at  01:27 PM
  6. Well, I was thinking of meeting up in the city. I have no interest in discovering the mysteries of THAT Pittsburgh. Nor the other one, come to think of it.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  08/30  at  01:58 PM
  7. I wonder why more of us don’t just point out that most conservatives aren’t smart enough to hack it in academia.

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  01:59 PM
  8. Or that most conservatives are more interested in making and keeping “their” money, and that really doesn’t happen so much if you’re dedicating yourself to academe.

    Then again, this may be one of those moments of causal confusion for folks like Johnson.  It could be that, at least in terms of trends, that the better educated (especially in the humanities) end up being more liberal as a consequence.  This view assumes that education actually impacts ones views, at least in providing theories and facts that ground those views, and also recognizes (correctly) that many of the more viable theories and the more demonstrable facts end up negatively impacting some of the standard conservative claims (like “it’s your money” or ID, or the uncertainty of global warming, for example).  Of course, many would discount this assumption, arguing that education tries to brainwash but does not succeed, thanks to the rightness of certain conservative truths, but then it’s hard to imagine these same people then committing their lives to education, since their starting assumption is that it doesn’t work.

    A related aside:  I was thinking about ID recently, and I’m curious.  Science aside, doesn’t it necessarily imply that any of the bad crap that happens as a result of evolutionary modifications, and all that resulted from them, is actually God’s fault, and not free will?

    Posted by Kenneth Rufo  on  08/30  at  02:25 PM
  9. I have met the mysterious and powerful Rox Populi and let me tell you this:  She can shoot laser beams out of her pupils. So, be nice and beware.

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  02:33 PM
  10. where in dc will you be?

    could some of us blogger wannabe’s meet you?

    Posted by Bulworth  on  08/30  at  02:50 PM
  11. Per Rick Perlstein:

    As I responded to a post some time ago, isn’t the phrase “intellectual conservative” an oxymoron? Let’s stop giving these folks more credit than they warrant. There may be exceptions, but not many. Being able to use big words and pack a book with tables and bar graphs does not an intellectual make.

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  04:32 PM
  12. Eeek, too many of us will be in NorCal at the same time; we might shift the balance of this nation to the left--

    I just deleted what i was proposing to say about Johnson’s intentional misconstruing of the political persuasions of this nation’s academic faculties.  I did so because i was guilty of using some of the same errant and inappropriate methodology that he uses in his diatribe against what he perceives to be the liberal bias of academia.  It was easy to get sucked into that hay filled place.

    I have been in and around CA academia for nearly forty years, and more if you count my pre-university days spent on various university and college campuses.  I am a radical anarchist and have been since the mid to late 60’s.  In my personal experience i felt clearly outside the norm of my faculty peers, nearly all of whom were well to the right of me, though they were definitely left of the perceived center.  And for me, therein lies Johnson’s most glaring error.  Castigating professors as representing a political agenda that is symbolized, by KC and the DaHo band, in terms that reflect my own patterns of thought, is simply wrong; i am not at all representative of my peers.  As i often say: “there aren’t very many people to the left of me, and i know most of them!” That holds for academia.  Nearly all are well to my right and do not share my radical kant.  To thus claim that they do is fallacious; to dysphemically charge universities and colleges, with knowingly supporting a hiring process that favors those who think as i, is deceiptful and wrongheaded.

    Maybe the conservatives in the society liked us all better when we stayed in our “ivory towers?” I do recall that even my own academic-styled conservative parents were embittered about Kennedy filling his cabinet and advisory staff with Ivy League academics.

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  04:32 PM
  13. Give Roxanne a big hug for me, she’s a peach!!

    Posted by Elayne Riggs  on  08/30  at  04:54 PM
  14. Damnit, Michael, I punted yesterday on KC’s essay and the Times law-professor article. You’re supposed to fill in during the times when I have no inspiration—i.e., most of the time.

    Posted by Sherman  on  08/30  at  05:11 PM
  15. All right, I’m not sure I have anything useful to add, but as to this:

    Here’s a hint: think of the major conservative “intellectual” movement of our time.  Now explain why KC Johnson doesn’t mention it.

    I’ll take a stab. Could be that in mentioning ID, Johnson would have been forced to discuss an idea that was actually present in the Pitt group’s critique (that fundamentalist Christians may choose not to take positions where they would be forced to do research that may challenge their beliefs), rather than proceeding to rail about three arguments that were completely absent from that critique?

    I’ll admit that the critique from the Pitt professors is not free of snark, but I find it interesting that Johnson (as an academic) chooses to completely ignore the many relevant points the Pitt authors bring up in regards to the methodology and conclusions of the original paper.  Instead, the most inflammatory passage available in the critique is quoted (without context) and used as a springboard to rant about about unrelated (and less supportable) claims.  Seems pretty weak to me, but then, I’m just a lowly biochemist.  Maybe this is how people are supposed to write in the (forgive the term) “soft” sciences.  Hmm…

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  08:56 PM
  16. I think Mr/Ms Johnson (I don’t know him/her/it) ought to at least acknowledge the 30-year war on education waged by conservatives. I mean, they’ve attacked everybody from Ward Churchill to pre-school teachers and dissed every form of education known to man except Sunday School. It’s not really the kind of thing one can just skip on past as if it didn’t exist. After all, they’ve gone to great lengths to announce their hatred of any educational process that doesn’t include rote learning or attempts to move beyond the 3 R’s and the Great Books. They boast about it. It’s not like one could really miss that broad and pervasive an antipathy.

    Unless one wanted to, of course.

    Why would Johnson expect universities to hire people whose avowed purpose is to destroy them? They don’t expect corporations to hire Marxists who want to turn the company over to its employees, do they?

    In the words of Spike Milligan, ‘It’s all rather confusing, really.’

    PS I’m jealous that you’re actually getting to meet Roxanne. I’m sure the rumors about lasers in her eyes are...exaggerated.

    Posted by Mick  on  08/30  at  09:44 PM
  17. What’s all this about Grover Fur? It looks like a spiffy fabric, but why should liberals have to concern ourselves with it?

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  10:45 PM
  18. I had no idea that liberals had made a coat out of lovable furry old Grover.  That just shows you what happens when you let the govmint run a TV station!

    And yes, I can now confirm the report that Roxanne can shoot laser beams out of her pupils.  In fact, she incinerated a party of four at the Thai Coast because they were going on about how great the music of 1981 was.  She simply gave them a dark look, and it was like something out of Mars Attacks.  Most impressive, really.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/30  at  11:48 PM
  19. Actually, Michael, I think Slim Whitman released Indian Love Song in 1952 or so.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/31  at  12:10 AM
  20. Gosh, for a brief shining moment I thought “Grover Fur” was constituted of Norquist.  I wouldn’t buy it, but just knowing it was around would make me very happy.

    Posted by Linkmeister  on  08/31  at  01:59 AM
  21. At risk of renewing the KC Johnson/Michael Berube mutual admiration society, I will attribute Michael’s errors here to his being rushed, but they are errors: a) ID is hardly the “major conservative ‘intellectual’ movement of our time.” To claim that it is is to confess a considerable ignorance of conservative thought in the last 50 years. b) KC Johnson is not an ID supporter. and c) to my knowledge, KC Johnson is not a supporter of the Bush administration. Altogether, I’d say that Michael muffed this one pretty badly.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  08/31  at  02:45 AM
  22. That’s OK, Ralph—you thought I’d muffed the last one pretty badly too, simply by calling attention to the fact that KC had written something about me that 99.9999998 percent of the reading population agreed was palpably untrue.  So it’s fine with me if you want to rush into this one, but do read Marita’s remark above:

    Could be that in mentioning ID, Johnson would have been forced to discuss an idea that was actually present in the Pitt group’s critique (that fundamentalist Christians may choose not to take positions where they would be forced to do research that may challenge their beliefs), rather than proceeding to rail about three arguments that were completely absent from that critique?

    That’s the problem here, Ralph—not KC’s own beliefs, but his evasion of the central issue raised by the Pitt group.  I didn’t think for a minute that KC supported ID, and his position on Bush is irrelevant.

    As for whether ID is the “major conservative ‘intellectual’ movement of our time”:  well, it all depends, doesn’t it, on what “our time” means.  I meant “right this very second,” and you give it half a century.  Suffice it to say for now that over the past half century, intellectual conservatism has indeed had some shining moments.  ID is not one of them.  I will have to leave it to intelligent conservatives to explain why so many prominent conservative journalists and thinkers have become so very hostile to science.  Are they simply pandering to the base, or do they really believe this stuff?  (One is bad.  The other is worse.) Let me know when you’re willing to hit that ball back over the net. . . .

    Posted by Michael  on  08/31  at  08:57 AM
  23. I will quietly note that KC’s insistence on calling it “intellectual diversity” is inappropriate—he’s calling for “ideological” or “political diversity.” If he called it that, many would note that there is indeed a dizzying array of intellectual diversity in most departments, and many might say, “Well, how does it belong to the essence of the university that there be parity between two political parties, whose views are always shifting anyway?”

    I will also quietly note that however smart KC is in the context of his academic work, in this case, it seems clear to me that he misrepresented one of the key pieces of evidence in his IHE article.  Ultimately, perhaps his quest for a more politically balanced university is totally justified, but no matter what the cause of his misrepresentation—sincere misunderstanding, overreaching in justifying using a juicy quote, failure to have read the surrounding context—it hurts his credibility. 

    I hereby propose that we spend three days in detailed and exhausting arguments about the precise degree to which KC may or may not have misrepresented his source.

    Posted by Adam Kotsko  on  08/31  at  09:33 AM
  24. KC Johnson loves recycling his stuff. If he’s going to write about his diversity topic so much, shouldn’t he have something new to say?  Some of his examples (such as the Duke guy paraphrasing Mill) seem to show up in every essay he writes on the topic. I’ve found the Mill quote in four different essays he’s written on academic “diversity” since March 2004. He’s a broken record.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  10:29 AM
  25. Jim E., that’s precisely why we need more diversity in academe!  And Adam, I see no reason to limit the discussion to three days.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/31  at  11:19 AM
  26. To paraphrase National Lampoon—‘we don’t ignore knowledge, even if it’s wrong.’ Should be the mantra for ID supporters.

    Posted by Jim Shirk  on  08/31  at  11:27 AM
  27. Just came across this blog via a link from MSNBC.  Michael, I’ve been an interested reader of yours for a few years now (particularly Public Access and your stuff on Pynchon).  I know that you have been quite publically involved in this so called “political diversity” in the universities debate, and I am generally more persuaded by the case you continue to make than anything KCJ-Horowitz et al offer.  A couple of things though...couldn’t it be said that many on the left have expressed an hostility to science using similar relativist gambits as ID (I seem to remember a certain well publicized scandal regarding a scientist making this point via a hoax article).  Also, I wonder where all the “conservatives aren’t smart enough to hack academia” and ‘intellectual conservative’ is an oxymoron stuff leads?  Besides adding fuel to charges of elitism etc it drags the whole debate down to the most chidish levels no?  I also would like to say that I do not think it is unreasonable to suggest that aspiring academics (I’ll only speak to Literature departments since that is where my experience lies) who see themselves as moderates or “reasonable conservatives” can find the terrain a bit rocky these days.  I don’t think it is uncommon to come across members of hiring committees or interview panels that physically bristle when conservative thinkers, writers, or ideas are a major part of a candidates interests or background.  I’m not complaining (well maybe a little) because I know that religiously affiliated universities and other kinds of higher education institutions have their litmus tests as well but at least they tend to make this clear when they post jobs.  Cheers.

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  03:48 PM
  28. Interesting blog/thread on the ‘political’ leanings of academics and Profs. It’s always appeared that the Governers (who have money/ power’in a pass the Lafitte kind of way’wink were right of the line and the academes (who were there because they were dedicated and certainly not overpaid) were left in that fine balancing act of left/right, more money/less money, ideology/bandwagon kind (that list can, of course go on and on..........Corse it could be that with intellect comes logical analysis and reasoning with enlightened theorising as opposed to Joe Bloggs said it so it must be right. As for this amusing ID thing (amusing to those not having to deal with i.e. everybody outside the USA) Creationism in Religeous Education. Darwin in Biology. Simple innit! One does not have think too deeply then and the paradox will not be so obvious when each taken separately. Stuffs all my Geology dates into a cocked hat tho’. I feel a long rethink and a beer comin’ on!

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  05:15 PM
  29. Michael, Either KC’s position on Bush is irrelevant, as you now claim, or, you were beating on a straw man, in your post, when you generalized about KC being on the Right and holding him accountable for what President Bush says. You can’t have it both ways just for the sake of polarizing caricatures.
    Do you read Peter Steinfels or George Wills? If you did, you wouldn’t make glib generalizations about what conservative journalists endorse or fail to repudiate. KC and I are historians. We’re less likely than some others to think that the latest grant from some conservative foundation signals the greatest conservative idea of our time. Do let me know if it does because, if it does, some of our best friends on the net are bandying about the greatest conservative ideas of our time.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  08/31  at  10:01 PM
  30. Ralph, you’re such a terrific guy except when you get on the subject of KC, and then, well, then Things Get Weird.  It kind of makes me sad, you know, because I like you.  Now, as to this latest.  As it happens, Peter Steinfels was for many years a friend of my father’s, so I didn’t actually need to hear about him from you.  As for whether I am holding KC accountable for George Bush, let me try once more to make a clear point even clearer.  The Pitt group noted that some conservatives have a deep hostility to the scientific method.  KC ignored this point and tried to change the subject—not that he’s ever tried that tactic before!

    When intellectual conservatives decisively and unambiguously repudiate Intelligent Design, do let me know.  I really am very patient about these things.

    bjm, I can hardly even attempt a decent reply here.  But in my “essays” section I have a number of replies to Alan Sokal and his hoax, in most of which I reject mistaken critiques of science from the academic left.  But no, those critiques are not quite the same kind of beast as ID.  I agree with most of the rest of your remarks about the political composition of my own field and the rhetorical foolishness of claiming that conservatives aren’t bright enough to be academics, as my forthcoming book (sorry to be so “read-my-work” about this) will show in some detail.  Thanks for chiming in--

    Posted by Michael  on  08/31  at  10:33 PM
  31. Michael, It is understandable that you would find me more agreeable when I am not, you know, disagreeing with you than when I am. But it is perfectly acceptable for KC to limit his argument to the humanities and the social sciences and fair for you to point out that that is what he did. To go on from that to holding him accountable for ID and what President Bush says about it is absurd.
    Adam, KC is primarily concerned about the fact that, in large history departments, the reigning Left has elevated social history of various kinds and largely left neglected some important traditional fields—constitutional, diplomatic, legal, military, and political history. He believes they’ve done that because those traditional avenues of historical inquiry have a conservative bias. When a department of, say, 60 historians has no diplomatic historian or no constitutional historian or no political historian, KC would argue that a reigning intellectual bias has created large gaps in a field of historical offerings.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  08/31  at  10:50 PM
  32. KC certainly selects roundabout ways to make that point.

    Posted by Adam Kotsko  on  08/31  at  10:56 PM
  33. Oh, c’mon, Ralph, I find you agreeable lots of times—even when you disagree with me.  It’s just this KC problem.  Anyway, yes, his point about diplomatic, military, political history is well taken.  The pendulum may have swung too far in this case—and it’s all the fault of the Annales school and Carlo Ginzburg, or so I’ve heard.  The problem is that this perfectly reasonable and circumspect point about a disciplinary shift in history was buried in an otherwise evasive, cheap-shot point-scoring essay.  It’s easy enough to take potshots at the Grover Furrs of the world, but harder to account for why so few smart conservatives aspire to academic careers, and so many other-than-smart conservatives are stumping for ID.

    Entre nous, I think conservatives avoid academe because they’re so much smarter than liberals about how the world works, but of course I would never say that in public, now, would I.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/31  at  11:03 PM
  34. Adam, I understand that it may seem roundabout to you, but it is what gives wholeness to the kinds of informal essays that he’s been producing on these issues. Tangentially, it offends Left-consciousness to do that, but he not afraid of offending Left-consciousness.
    A couple of self-corrections and additions: Michael, your argument that conservative intellectuals must to a person publicly repudiate ID has, of course, the same standing that Righty pundits’ demands that everyone on the Left must publicly repudiate A.N.S.W.E.R. You do and KC does—so what’s the argument about?
    Finally, I should have said that there is a perception that constitutional, diplomatic, legal, military, and political history have a conservative bias—not that they do necessarily. My colleague at Cliopatria, Mark Grimsley, certainly demonstrates fairly clearly that military history at a very sophisticated level doesn’t necessarily have that bias.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  08/31  at  11:07 PM
  35. Ralph,

    ID has a bit more clout in the mainstream conservatism than ANSWER has in mainstream liberalism.  You have to see that, please. 

    Perhaps KC could limit his “critique” to history departments.  I always feel as if he doesn’t know what he would be doing by unleashing Ayn Rand philosophy courses to counter-balance the “Leftist” Nietzsche (I’ve met way too many conservatives who think any student of Nietzsche must be an anarchist).  Frankly impossing an artificial political poles onto philosophy departments would hurt them very badly, as they tend to try and do work outside this dichotomy (not to say that most of them didn’t vote for Kerry, but come on...).

    Could you admit one fault KC has?

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  11:45 PM
  36. Anthony,

    Arguably, DePaul’s philosophy department skews way to the right, what with the emphasis on Heidegger.

    Posted by Adam Kotsko  on  08/31  at  11:54 PM
  37. If you are counting votes in the electorate, ID has more influence on the Right than A.N.S.W.E.R. has on the Left. I didn’t think that we were counting the electorate here. KC specifically did not make an argument for putting an advocate of ID in every biology department in order to make it look more like the electorate—and you guys want to beat up on him for his not doing so!
    If that idiot chairman of the philosophy department at my alma mater ("Duke, We Thy Anthems Raise ...") had not made the foolish statements he did about conservatives and why they are not in the academy, KC might not have ammunition to fire about intellectual bias in other humanities programs. You can call an argument among a Marxist, a feminist, and an Africanist a manifestation of intellectual diversity if you want to, but there are a hell of a lot of worthy points of view unrepresented in any such debate. And let’s have no more of that crap about conservatives self-selecting out of the academy—at least so long as any of us are consciously or unconsciously making it a hostile environment.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  09/01  at  12:14 AM
  38. And let’s have no more of that crap about conservatives self-selecting out of the academy—at least so long as any of us are consciously or unconsciously making it a hostile environment.

    Well said!  And while we’re at it, let’s have no more of that crap about conservatives self-selecting out of the academy when conservatives self-select out of the academy. 

    Posted by John Stuart Mill  on  09/01  at  12:28 AM
  39. ID is to ANSWER as malus is to citrus.

    One’s a pseudoscience that has been debunked long before being cobbled together in its current incarnation.  The other is an obnoxious political group - whose political chicanery I revile - but whose ideology has by no means been scientifically disproven. The fact that their views are in the extreme minority these days does not automatically constitute falsehood.

    ANSWER’s sole talent - and sole effect on society - lies in organizing demonstrations. When ANSWER starts making inroads into school boards and curriculum committees, when hacks write New York Times Op-Eds encouraging equal time for ANSWER’s ideology in history classes, then setting up even a rhetorical parallel between ANSWER and ID might not seem quite so silly a straw man.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/01  at  12:32 AM
  40. "KC specifically did not make an argument for putting an advocate of ID in every biology department in order to make it look more like the electorate—and you guys want to beat up on him for his not doing so!”

    He did, however, mischaractize a citation when it was talking about ID.  By ignoring the issue altogether he is participating in a quietism that is disturbing.  I don’t want to beat up on him for not making this argument, I want to beat up on him for making such a bad argument with complete and utter cockiness.  The man is cocky, I’m sorry, I know you can’t see that for whatever reason, but he is.  He refuses to answer any criticism and just keeps saying the same damn things over and over again without attempting to explain his program (does he have one or is this all critique?) with any clarity.

    Back to the ID thing.  Is KC still unwilling to even consider the place of private insitutions in this whole debate?

    I’ve never made the arguement that conservatives self-select out of the academy.  I went to a college completely overrun by conservatives for a time, I know they can get jobs at certain institutions if they want.  I’ve also never said anything about “intellectual diversity” and I’m not really interested in it or what it actually is (political diversity).  I’m sorry if history departments are missing something, but the only thing KC seems capable of doing is whining.  If he were to write an essay explaining what could be done, if he could tone down the snark, if he could deal with the fact that he is calling for political diversity and not intellectual diversity, then he would be worth reading on this subject.  As it is he comes across as a hack (and I’m sure he’s not in his area of study). 


    Posted by  on  09/01  at  12:36 AM
  41. Chris Clarke, ANSWER is supported by Ramsey Clark, while ID is supported by George Bush.  That seems like a symmetrical relationship to me.  Also, Noam Chomsky and Richard Perle disagree, and I think we should split the difference, regardless of Chomsky’s or Perle’s proximity to state power and regardless of the status of their truth claims.

    Posted by Evenhanded Guy  on  09/01  at  12:52 AM
  42. Ralph—As I see it, the question is:

    1) Why didn’t K.C. Johnson, in the passage MB quoted, point out that ID (which is what the Pitt group was talking about) is not representative of serious conservative thought? That would have been a valid point. Whining about how “if you say that about feminists you get in trouble” is pointless and sounds bitter. I’m a leftist with several friends who are both academic and conservative, so I’m receptive to parts of his point, but not this “why me” grousing.

    2) Conservatives do, in fact, believe stupid things. So do liberals. That’s why I would never call myself a “liberal” without qualifying it, and would rarely denounce criticism of “liberals” without specifying the particular “liberal” beliefs that I wish to defend. By saying there should be more “conservatives” on higher ed faculty, Johnson is--whether he supports ID or Bush or not--supporting something broad and insupportable. He says:
    To my knowledge, however, no academic administration has made the creation of an intellectually and pedagogically diverse faculty its primary goal.
    Adam Kotsko’s point is right on. This “intellectually diverse” thing is a red herring. All sorts of academics disagree with one another about all sorts of things vehemently. Let’s be a little bit more specific about what things are “unfairly” dismissed before we start carping about how conversatives can’t get no respect. Because Charles Murray, for instance, doesn’t deserve that much respect. And if he does, you gotta tell me why.

    Posted by Lee  on  09/01  at  01:27 AM
  43. You can’t dismiss KC as “a hack,” Anthony, simply because you disagree with him. For good reason, he is more concerned with large departments and research institutions. Simply pointing to Olivet every time he makes his case just doesn’t meet the point because Olivet doesn’t make a very big footprint on the land.
    Sorry, Chris, if you don’t like the parallel between ANSWER and ID. Set up a comparable left/ right parallel and we can discuss that one.
    I know that “Evenhandedguy” isn’t likely to accept fine distinctions—such as, for example, that Bush didn’t actually endorse ID—but I can understand the need to make some kind of virtue out of the Left’s being so entirely out of power these days. So am I.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  09/01  at  01:28 AM
  44. Sorry, Chris, if you don’t like the parallel between ANSWER and ID. Set up a comparable left/ right parallel and we can discuss that one.

    I admit I’m stumped.

    Any thoughts about an issue which a double-digit percentage of the left has endorsed but which scientists are utterly unanimous in opposing?

    The left can be fairly accused of its occasional (apologies to our host) fashionable nonsense. The right is pushing hard to promote a piece of fashionable ur-nonsense that would roll back the entire spectrum of life sciences by two hundred years or more. This endangers not just radical atheist biology teachers but anyone engaged in the art of critical inquiry. You tell me something leftists are engaged in that’s comparable.

    In any event, how is pointing out the weakness of the left an irrelevant answer to the charge that leftists are oppressing conservatives?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/01  at  01:42 AM
  45. Chris, There you go counting the electorate again. I thought we were talking about intellectuals on the right and intellectuals on the left. You have no recollection of the violations to scientific inquiry that were committed by an unchallenged Left in the Soviet Union, no doubt, and I don’t hold you or your allies in the American left accountable to that reality, but let’s not pretend that it didn’t or that it can’t happen. And let’s remember that you, Michael, KC, Adam, Anthony, Lee and I are allies against such violations by an electoral right in the United States.

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  09/01  at  02:31 AM
  46. Ralph,

    I’m not calling KC a hack simply becasue I disagree with him, I’m dismissing him as a hack because I’ve read nearly every one of these essays he has written and they all say the same thing, with the same tone that manages to be both condecending and whiny.  I disagree with a lot of people who I don’t think are hacks (Berube being one of them often times and yourself included, except on this KC thing), so let’s not resort to making claims about how I personally feel about KC or whatever it is you are trying to say. 

    I’m not pointing to Olivet everytime, but if his point is big research institutions he should say that.  The man isn’t clear, he is presenting blanket criticisms without any qualifications.  My question then becomes, if there are so many private institutions with large conservative numbers why aren’t they top research schools?  Why is it that when a school is overrun with conservatives the goal is not knowledge, but a pragmatic education in how to be succesful (with the exception of U of C in the 80’s, I think it was the 80’s...)?  Are you telling me that intellectuals on the right opposse ID in large numbers?  I have yet to hear from them and I know Bush is connected to a lot of Right-wing intellectuals (and though he hasn’t endorsed ID he has come close enough that many ID supporters feel as if they have a mandate, so let’s not split hairs).

    Why can’t you disagree with one thing the man has said?  It’s kind of… vaguely creepy.

    Posted by  on  09/01  at  10:05 AM
  47. Chris, There you go counting the electorate again. I thought we were talking about intellectuals on the right and intellectuals on the left.

    While I recognize that some draw a distinction between “intellectuals” and “the mass,” I am reluctant to give that distinction much credence. I recognize that certain unique conditions prevail within academia, and further that you are likely to know more about them from your position than do I, a mere non-degreed magazine editor. But the set “academics” is not congruent with the set “intellectuals,” and the boundaries of either of those sets within the lecturate are quite porous to the electorate.

    You have no recollection of the violations to scientific inquiry that were committed by an unchallenged Left in the Soviet Union, no doubt

    I was educated, in the late sixties and early seventies, by Magyar refugees from the abortive revolution in 1956. By the time I was 12, I had probably learned more detail about Soviet crimes against free thought than most of my cohort out here in the electorate got within a lifetime. Besides, I’m an amateur ecologist, and when you’re teaching yourself about the planet’s vegetative diversity all roads lead to Vavilof.

    I’ve made references to the Bush administration’s war on science as being the new Lysenkoism, and to Administration policy in a larger sense as being, at its core, Stalinist. This necessarily implies a criticism of the original Stalinism and Lysenkoism. If you like, I could delineate that criticism, including some diiscussion of whether Stalinism is, in any real sense, “left.”

    But here’s the thing: Stalin died a few years back. His government collapsed not long afterward. I was rather under the impression that we were talking about current events.

    And let’s remember that you, Michael, KC, Adam, Anthony, Lee and I are allies against such violations by an electoral right in the United States.

    Agreed. It has not escaped my notice that Paul Krugman, currently reviled as an extreme leftist, is by any objective measure a Rockefeller Republican. You and KC and Michael and Krugman are in the same lifeboat, which makes it hard for me to understand why some of you are bailing and others are denying the existence of holes in the hull, while pointing out that the bailers’ sweat could also fill the boat, given enough time.

    That seawater, in my Thomas-Nast-style lifeboat image, is labeled “the electorate.” There’s a shark in the water that strongly resembles the publisher of FrontPage.com.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/01  at  10:54 AM
  48. Chris, If the whole electorate is the seawater in your Thomas Nast cartoon, then I suppose that you have no confidence in the long term wisdom of a democratic political order. You may be right. I disagree with you.
    Anthony, How creepy is it of you, based on your experience of two private institutions of higher education, to feel quite confident to reject everything that KC says? His experience of a variety of institutions of higher education is much broader and more urbane than yours. And, btw, is your critique of American society whiny? In what ways is it not? What’s the difference between a split hair and a fine distinction? Is it only that one is yours and the other is mine?

    Posted by Ralph Luker  on  09/01  at  01:32 PM
  49. On the contrary, Ralph. The sea is a mighty fine thing in the long term. It’s the source of rain and fish and atmospheric oxygen and nice views.

    In the short term, though, it’ll kick your ass if you turn your back on it.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/01  at  01:38 PM





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Next entry: Stay the course in Klendathu

Previous entry: Running on Empty

<< Back to main