Why Are Professors Liberal?

Richard Redding’s LA Times op-ed,  “It’s Diverse If You Are Liberal” comes to the shocking conclusion that conservative viewpoints are excluded from college campuses. Who’d have thought? Indeed, “most [students] did not think it entirely safe to hold unpopular opinions on campus.”

Intellectual diversity is what schools value least. Instead, it is only diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation — all of which are very desirable, to be sure — that rules the day in higher education. This agenda dominates higher education in faculty hiring, student admissions, curricula, student life programs and virtually every other aspect of college life.

Redding must establish his bona fides by genuflecting before the gods of the “very desirable” forms of diversity. What if the conservative faculty he thinks would be a great addition turn out to really hate all this other diversity—as a real (at this point, revolutionary) conservative would?

I have a recent article on this, in The Occidental Quarterly—soon to be available online to subscribers. (Hint.) Redding notes that conservative students are at a disadvantage because “conservative students lack academic role models, have more distant relationships with their professors and have fewer opportunities to do research with professors (particularly on sociopolitical issues).”

In a word, they feel alienated from their professors, which in turn explains why conservatives don’t think of the academy as a place where they want to spend their lives.

My paper is based on a well-publicized academic article by Ethan Fosse and Neil Gross, “Why are Professors Liberal?” Their paper fits well with Redding’s article because it emphasizes self-selection. The academy is liberal not because smart people are liberal but because smart non-liberals quickly realize that the academy would be a terrible place to spend your life. As I note in the article:

With my current beliefs, it would be suicide to embark on an academic career—doomed to be a secret agent all through graduate school and at least up until the granting of tenure, never able to express my real attitudes. (Yet, that is exactly the position of a number of graduate students and young faculty who have contacted me over the years.)

Even after tenure, one doesn’t want to remain an associate professor for the rest of one’s career. Promotion would be impossible for anyone who came out as a conservative, much less someone like me who believes in the importance of ethnic genetic interests, ending legal and illegal immigration, the role of Jewish influence in shaping elite political and cultural attitudes, etc.

Even full professors at many institutions would think twice about espousing conservative views. They would stop being invited to parties and they would find they have many fewer friends. They could forget about obtaining federal grants or receiving financial or other types of support from the university, and they could even see their salary drop, since at many institutions the department chair or a committee has power over their salary.

And, as Foss and Gross relate, “when it occasionally happens that conservative students do form the aspiration to become professors, they are likely to run up against barriers involving both self-concept incongruence and negative judgments from peers and occupation members.”

I remember before I became an academic scofflaw—when I became a Reagan-type mainstream conservative, somewhere in the early 80s. Going to an academic party became an experience in dissembling—forced smiles at anti-Reagan jokes uttered with absolute confidence that everyone would join in the fun. There is an absolute certainty that all conservatives have two-digit IQs and are infinitely inferior to them intellectually. They also believe that conservatives suffer from severe psychiatric disorders—just like in the movies. Conservatives speak with a Southern accent, drive pickup trucks, are fond of guns, and are filled with irrational hatreds. Or they are snooty capitalists who exploit minorities, attend exclusive country clubs, and have retrograde attitudes on race and homosexuality.

Typical academics have internalized the attitudes that have come to dominate the Western intellectual scene. There’s no question that it’s a herd mentality. The assumption of ideological homogeneity is stifling—some kinds of diversity are simply out of bounds in an academic environment—even mainstream conservatism. And yes, based on my experience, coming out as a non-liberal is guaranteed to result in “negative judgments from peers and occupation members.”A conservative professor is not exactly an oxymoron, but a mainstream conservative—and certainly an evolutionary psychologist who believes that White people have ethnic genetic interests—is certain to be regarded with moral revulsion by pretty much all the people he works with.

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