What Academic Tolerance?

That our Western universities are almost completely dominated by the secular left is something many of us have been claiming, and documenting for quite some time now.

And all this happened in a relatively short period of time. As I so often mention, the cultural Marxists have been extremely successful in their “long march through the institutions”. They have diligently targeted our schools, along with our judiciary, our media, politics, and even our churches.

And this has paid off handsomely for them. As David Aikman put it in his 2012 volume, One Nation Without God?, “It is a remarkable historical fact that America’s major universities went from being repositories of knowledge and teaching deeply imbued with the Christian worldview in the middle of the nineteenth century, with few exceptions, to uniformly anti-religious and specifically anti-Christian institutions by the end of the twentieth century.”

Educational excellence is supposed to be about openness to ideas, plurality of opinions, vigorous discussion and debate, and a willingness to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. But today in so many schools we instead have a mindless conformity, an enforced political correctness, and tolerance only for those toeing the party line.

Trending: In Attacks on Kavanaugh, We’re Shocked — Shocked! — that Abortion Enthusiasts Act Repulsively

All dissenters need not apply. Indeed, we have had plenty of cases of both faculty and students being penalised and punished for daring to think differently from the reigning secular left ideology that we find there. These dozen volumes for example all document and chronicle this takeover, and dumbing down, of our universities:

Image of Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth
  1. Black, Jim Nelson, Freefall of the American University: How Our Colleges Are Corrupting the Minds and Morals of the Next Generation. Thomas Nelson, 2004.
  2. D’Sousa, Dinesh, Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Free Press, 1991.
  3. Horowitz, David, Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom. Encounter Books, 2009.
  4. Horowitz, David, One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy. Crown Forum, 2009.
  5. Horowitz, David, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. Regnery 2007.
  6. Horowitz, David, Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign For An Academic Bill Of Rights. Regnery 2010.
  7. Kimball, Roger, Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Higher Education. HarperCollins, 1990.
  8. Kors, Alan Charles, The Shadow University: The Betrayal Of Liberty On America’s Campuses. Harper Paperbacks, 1999.
  9. Laverdiere, C, ed., Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity. Master Books, 2012.
  10. Shapiro, Ben, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth. Thomas Nelson, 2004.
  11. Sowell, Thomas, Education: Assumptions Versus History. Hoover Press, 1986.
  12. Sowell, Thomas, Inside American Education. Free Press, 1992, 2003.

As Sowell summarises the situation: “Education is not merely neglected in many of our schools today, but is replaced to a great extent by ideological indoctrination.” Or as he put it even more bluntly: “Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.”

Of course it is one thing for Christians and/or conservatives to make these claims. The other side will simply dismiss such criticisms. But what happens when one of their own comes out and spills the beans? What if a self-professed progressive makes a blistering attack on modern education and its decided intolerance for Christian and conservative views?

Well, that is exactly what American columnist Nicholas Kristof has just done. His brand new article, “A confession of liberal intolerance,” posted in the leftist New York Times no less, makes a very strong case for what we have been saying all along: academia is about as closed as you can get to real diversity of opinion, especially when it comes to political and religious views.

I encourage you to read the entire piece, but to whet your appetite, let me quote heavily from it. He begins:

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives. Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us. O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.
“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

He continues, and offers plenty of documentation on all this:

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.
Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent. Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).
In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.
The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.
Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas, conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.
The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

He goes on to cite more studies confirming this point, and notes that there are plenty of conservative and Christian scholars and academics around, so it is not as if they do not exist. He then closes with these words:

Jonathan Haidt, a centrist social psychologist at New York University, cites data suggesting that the share of conservatives in academia has plunged, and he has started a website, Heterodox Academy, to champion ideological diversity on campuses.
“Universities are unlike other institutions in that they absolutely require that people challenge each other so that the truth can emerge from limited, biased, flawed individuals,” he says. “If they lose intellectual diversity, or if they develop norms of ‘safety’ that trump challenge, they die. And this is what has been happening since the 1990s.”
Should universities offer affirmative action for conservatives and evangelicals? I don’t think so, partly because surveys find that conservative scholars themselves oppose the idea. But it’s important to have a frank discussion on campuses about ideological diversity. To me, this seems a liberal blind spot.
Universities should be a hubbub of the full range of political perspectives from A to Z, not just from V to Z. So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.

Well, that was refreshing: a decidedly non-conservative making the very case we have been making for decades now. Whether fellow progressives take any note of his piece, or simply attack him for it, remains to be seen. And if he is roundly assailed by his leftist colleagues, that will simply further strengthen the case he – and us – have been making.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Bill Muehlenberg
Bill Muehlenberg, who was born in America, lives in Melbourne, Australia. He runs a web-based ministry of pro-faith, pro-family activism called CultureWatch: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com. Bill is widely sought out by the media for comments on social issues, faith issues, and family issues, and has appeared on all the major television and radio news shows, current affairs shows, and debate programs. He is the author of In Defence of the Family; Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, and several other books.

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.