Thinking Conservative

I have to say that I am always extremely skeptical of the idea that the university– or professors– are somehow more liberal than society at large (“Professor is a Label that Leans to the Left“). Universities are broader than the liberal arts, and if you have spent any time in administrative meetings and business (or economics departments) you know that conservatism is the norm rather than the exception. It depends on how you define “liberal” too.

Academia has witnessed the wholesale destruction of its former status as a full-time, tenured profession without much more than a collective peep of protest. The academic administrators who dismantled the traditional system are not liberal. There’s nothing liberal in the rising cost of education. The university system is not particularly democratic, either. At the top of the hierarchy, too, are very well paid administrators and even professors not likely to challenge the status quo.

I think this idea has to do with some very general and misleading ideas about what “left” or liberal might mean. (You can the essay noted by the NYT, here.) One major quality of this so-called liberalism is secularism and tolerance. Do we really need religious intolerance in university classrooms? What’s the opposite of a respect for diversity? A respect for limited exposure to people who might think and talk differently than you and your family?

If you think through the evidence supporting evolution (and you understand what the word theory does and does not mean) you will find the idea of teaching creationism as a equally valid scientific theory profoundly insulting. Does that make you a liberal or does that simply mean that you are open to the processes of evaluating scientific validity? Does anti-intellectualism need to be represented in the classroom as a corrective to reason itself?

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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