Monday, February 28, 2005

David Horowitz has No Fans in my Department, Except One

David Horowitz is the major target of criticism amongst my colleagues. A liberal turned conservative, Horowitz is the author of the "Academic Bill of Rights," which has caused so much controversy. (See here for one of the latest episodes.) My colleagues constantly bad mouth this guy. Their contempt for him knows no bounds. Most of the criticisms, at least lately, of conservativism by my colleagues is directed against Horowitz. But, he has done the most to expose liberal bias in higher education. But my colleagues can't stand having the mirror held up to their faces. Naturally enough, they don't like to admit that they're in the wrong. We need more people like Horowitz on the outside of academia, but who keep a close watch on it. A society needs a few watchdog to keep a look out for areas where we experience what Allan Bloom called "the closing of the American mind."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Departmental Banter

We had a departmental meeting on Friday. The usual issues were discussed (e.g. the budget, possible lines for new hires, adding new classes to the catalogue, etc.). And, as usual, some derogatory remarks were made about conservatives. My colleagues use the term "conservative" as if it was synonymous with stupid. Whenever somebody makes a silly little mistake they'll say something like "What are you, a conservative?" and other stupid stuff like that.

It is infuriating not only because it is entirely hypocritical of them, but because it isn't even funny. It is simply outrageous that a group of people be singled out as stupid and ignorant because of their political views. What would they say if we replaced "conservative" with "black" in the pathetic little jab mentioned above? They'd throw a fit! I shouldn't have to put up with this kind of thing! I should just apply for jobs at a conservative think tank. They're so hypocritical, and they don't even see it. These are people who walk around talking about how "the unexamined life is not worth living." I think it is about time they start examining their own lives! Ugh! It is just disgusting. I'm going to end up as one of those professors that never leaves the office door open. At least that way I don't have to hear this crap as often. They just walk around the department degrading conservatives whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Anti-Intellectualism and Conservative Students

The one place on campus that absolutely does not lean to the Left around the university is the student body. I can count the number of students that expressed liberal views in all of my classes on one hand. A part of this is no doubt due to the area of the country I'm in. In my classes it is the students that don't believe in God and aren't conservative, maybe two or three in each class of 55, that probably feel the most uncomfortable expressing their views on things in class.

I'm teaching a section of philosophy of religion now, in which we discuss arguments for and against God's existence, and some of the students clearly feel uncomfortable discussing the possibility that God might not exist. Somewhere along the way, these students have been taught that questioning one's faith in God undermines that faith. They've learned not to ask too many questions and to be cautious of any idea that doesn't obviously fit into their "worldview." They've been told 'to watch out for professors that are out to put ideas in [students'] heads.'

So, they get visibly worried looks on their faces when you start presenting the issues like the relationship between faith and reason, arguments for and (here's the troubling part) against God's existence, and philosophical criticisms of religious belief. They seem to worry that learning this kind of material for its own sake is somehow going to undermine their faith. While I don't attend church anymore (perhaps I'll explain why in a future post), but it is with these students that I have the most in common when it comes to politics.

The fact that I share so many of the same basic values and beliefs as these students makes it especially disturbing to me to see this kind of anti-intellectualism amongst them. Many of the religious students in my classes clearly believe it is a "sin" to consider the possibility that God might not exist, and many conservatives more generally seem to think that pursuing the study of subjects that do not lead directly into some particular career to be "useless." There are too few religious and conservative students interested in the life of the mind because they have been taught somewhere along the line (and to tell you the truth I blame their parents and ministers) that it will subvert your faith and lead to eternal damnation or is useless. So, perhaps conservatives do share some of the responsibility for their poor showing amongst academics.

Now don't you conservatives and religious types out there do me like the black community did Bill Cosby recently. You can praise Rush Limbaugh, Coulter, etc. all you want. But, they are not intellectuals or academics, they're partisans. They'd never make it in the university doing what they do. Conservatives and religious types should step up to their responsibility for having promoted a kind of anti-intellectualism amongst their kids, and correct the situation. There is no reason that pursuing the truth should be thought of as inherently dangerous to religious belief or that an academic career is something that is useless.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

How to Hide Your Conservativism in Academia, Lesson #3: Learn to Use Liberal-Speak

In order to hide my conservative views from my liberal colleagues it has been helpful to learn some of the liberal lingo. So, whenever possible and appropriate I sprinkle my discourse with references to globalization, consumerism, environmentalism, sexism, class, race, gender, and “big-box” stores. In doing so, I give my colleagues the impression that I’m playing on their team. I hate doing it, but my department is simply so liberal and they are so biased against anyone that is conservative that it is just necessary to do so.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Testing . . . Testing

Tomorrow I give my introduction to philosophy classes their first exam of the semester. For a good portion of them at least it is going to be a wake up call. Not because the test is particularly difficult, but because I can tell that many of them have not been doing the reading assignments.

Friday, February 18, 2005

How to Hide Your Conservativism in Academia, Lesson #2: Don't Keep Conservative Books in Your Office

I almost blew my cover this week! Like any other academic, there are lots of books in my office. But, I discovered this week that if you have the wrong book, i.e a book popular among conservatives, on your bookshelf that it might raise some eyebrows. I had a copy of Hayek's Road to Serfdom sitting out on my bookshelf and one of my liberal colleagues saw it. He asked, "What are you reading this for? Isn't this that book all the right-wingers go nuts for?" His tone was dismissive, of course. I had to think quick on my feet to make sure and keep up appearances. So, I used the "to better to understand the enemy" line to put him at ease as to why I was reading it, then made a joke about how I also watch the 700 Club. Man, it was a close one.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

How to Hide Your Conservativism in Academia, Lesson #1: Don't Criticize Socialism

This is the first post in a series that I plan to do on how to hide your conservativism in higher education.

The first thing you have to know is that you absolutely cannot criticize socialism. Criticizing socialism is a sure tip off to your liberal colleagues that you're a conservative. This means that you're going to have to stay cool in situtations like the one that happened to me today.

I was working in my office when one of my ultra-liberal colleagues came into my office and began ranting about the evils of capitalism (again). It was one of those times where I had to bite my tongue, until it almost bled. He went on and on . . . and on and on . . . about how capitalism produces economic and social injustices. Blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to say to him "Look, man . . . Communism doesn't work. You guys had a good run. Give it up all ready." But, of course, I had to hold my tongue to hide the fact that I'm conservative and in favor of capitalism because it could hurt my career. This guy has a say in whether or not my one year appointment gets renewed. If there was true academic freedom in the university, then I'd be able to voice my views without fear of unjustified reprisals. But, the atmosphere is controlled and dominated by liberals who will waste no time ruining your life simply because you hold a view that is different from the one they hold. It doesn't even matter that reason and history are on your side when it comes to criticizing socialism in higher education. To the liberals it is like beating a baby seal right in front of them. It's just disturbing how blinded by ideology they are. It's like they are all in a cult. I get the impression that the only way these people would see the light of day when it comes to capitalism is if Wal-Mart started offering abortions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Pet Peeve About Students

I often run across students who just presume that because I teach philosophy that I must be a liberal, especially in my introduction to philosophy classes where there are lots of freshmen. I don't know if this is simply because they know how biased academia is in favor of liberals or if it is because they think there is something inherently liberal about studying philosophy. But, their comments often suggest it is the a combination of the two. Last semester, when I asked one of my classes if they thought I was liberal they all said they thought I was, and that I was just good at hiding it in class. One of them even said something like "All the Humanities professors are liberals and since you're a philosophy instructor, you're probably more liberal than most" or something like that.

Of course, there is nothing inherently liberal about philosophy. I don't think it even makes sense to think of most of the figures in the history of philosophy as liberal or conservative. Regardless, however, of the origin of the opinion that philosophy is liberal it is an obstacle to the correcting the liberal bias in academia. If conservative students are unnecessarily put off by philosophy because they mistakenly think it is somehow inherently liberal, then it is unlikely that more of them will pursue graduate studies in philosophy and ultimately become philosophy professors. So, I've taken to dispelling this idea on the first day of class when I talk about common misconceptions of philosophy. I also try and undermine the common misconception that all philosophers are atheists, which is a view that seems common among conservative-evangelical-Christians.

Horowtiz Exposing Liberals

I found out about this from a post on Power Line. I'm glad to see that some body in a position to do so is exposing the liberals that are corrupting our society. If this academic thing doesn't work out for me, if I find that I can't stomach working with these hypocritical liberals in academia every day, then I should probably consider applying to a think tank or something where I can put my research and writing skills to work. It would probably be much more rewarding work for me.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Dissecting Leftism on Liberal Academia

There is an excellent post today over at Dissecting Leftism on liberal academia.

Liberal Groupthink is My Cover

So, you might be wondering how easy or difficult it is to stay keep my conservative political and moral views hidden from my liberal colleagues. It is incredibly easy, actually. To begin with, liberal groupthink dominates academia. Everyone just assumes that if you're in academia, especially in the Humanities, you're a liberal. So, unless you speak out then it is pretty easy to stay in the closet. But, I also have an additional advantage. My dissertation, which I'm still working on, focuses on a contemporary French philosopher who is know in academia primarily as a radical Leftist. Generally speaking, academics seem to just assume that you agree with and share the same views as the figure you focus on in your dissertation. So, everyone just assumes that since I'm writing on a radical Leftists that I must be a radical Leftist. I keep my mouth shut about my conservativism. Often I have to bite my tongue when I hear disparaging remarks about conservatives. But, so long as I manage to do that the liberal bias of academia makes it all to easy to stay in the closet. Everyone just assumes you're a liberal.

P.S. I wrote my dissertation on a radical Leftist simply because I was interested in understanding his philosophy. It's possible to want to learn something inside and out without necessarily agreeing with it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Inaugural Post

I’m a conservative, but my colleagues are all very liberal, outspoken about it, and seem to exhibit a great deal of contempt for conservative views on politics and morality. So, I’ve decided to keep my political and moral views from them. On this blog, I’ll post about my experience as a conservative in the ivory closet. I decided to start this blog because I ran across this post at The Conservative Philosopher. It inspired me to tell people about my experience as a conservative in liberal academia. I'll try to post regularly, at least two or three times a week.