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Defenders Of The Nation State Are Not The Authoritarians Here – That Would Be The Unrepentant Globalists

One does not need to be a snarling authoritarian to reject the anti nation state, globalist worldview – and if being wary about the survival of our rights and liberties in a post-patriotic world makes one a populist then so be it

During his recent Intelligence Squared debate/discussion with Nick Clegg on the causes of the populist backlash currently roiling British, European and American politics, Jonathan Haidt makes an interesting observation:

Once you have these incredibly prosperous, peaceful, progressive societies, they people there begin to do a few things. First off, not everybody has those values. Everybody in the capital city and the university towns, they have these values. So if you look at our countries, in America we’re pretty retrograde in some ways, but if you look at our bubble places they’re just like Sweden. And that means that these people now think that, you know, nation states, they’re so arbitrary. And just imagine if there were no countries, it isn’t hard to do. Imagine if there was nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too! So this is the way the values shift, and this is what I and others are calling – the new left/right is the globalists versus the nationalists.

And so the globalist ethos is “tear down the walls, tear down the borders, nation states are arbitrary, why should my government privilege the people who happen to be born here rather than people who are much poorer elsewhere?” And so you get this globalist idea, you begin to get even a denial of patriotism, the claim – there are some pictures going around right wing media now in the United States of anti-Trump protesters holding signs that say “patriotism is racism”. So you get people acting in this globalist way, inviting immigration, spitting on the nation state, spitting on the country and people who are patriotic, and very opposed to assimilation when there is integration because that, as people on the Left in America would say that’s cultural genocide.

So you get wealthy, wonderful, successful societies that are so attractive to poor people around the world you get a flood of immigration, and they are met by the globalists who say “welcome welcome welcome, don’t assimilate because we don’t want to deny you your culture”. And this triggers an incredible emotional reaction in people who have the psychological type known as authoritarianism.

Now it’s a very negative term, but there’s a lot of psychological diversity in this world; there are some people who are attracted to the Lennonist vision, the John Lennon vision and there are other people who are more parochial – I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean there are people who really care about hearth and home and God and country, and they are actually friends of order and stability, and they are friends of many good things about civic life.

But when they perceive that everybody is coming apart, that the moral world is coming apart, that’s when they get really racist, homophobic, they want to clamp down, they want to restore moral order, and if anybody here saw Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Committee that’s exactly what he said, he modelled himself after Richard Nixon’s 1968 speech, a time when cities are burning, there are riots, and Nixon came in – law and order will be restored, and that’s basically what Trump’s whole speech was.

So what I’m saying is successful democratic capitalist societies create – they change values, they generate wealth, they invite people in and then they make some of the people act in ways that trigger the other people to be furious, and those other people actually have a point because you have to have trust and social capital to have a redistributive welfare state. My point is that yes the economy matters and economic changes matter, but they matter in ways which always run through psychology.

I follow Haidt’s argument, but I do not see myself or many others of my acquaintance in the binary model he describes. For a start, I see nothing particularly liberal about the starry-eyed EU-supporting globalists, particularly when one examines the full palette of their typical political opinions. And there is certainly nothing inherently authoritarian about being a small-c conservative and fearing the jettisoning of the nation state in favour of an ill-defined globalism built upon the foundation of supranational institutions which are flawed, remote from the people and totally lacking in democratic legitimacy.

I and this blog are about as far from authoritarianism as it is possible to get, despite being staunchly pro-Brexit and anti-elite. I alternately use the labels conservatarian and libertarian to describe this blog’s desire for a much smaller state and greatly enhanced personal liberty – give me classical liberalism or give me death! The difference is that I see a strong and healthy nation state as being essential to the defence of these personal liberties, while the globalists (as described by Haidt) seem to lazily imagine that these liberties will automatically continue to endure beyond the era of the nation state.

Our experience with supranational governance – whether the United Nations or, more viscerally, the European Union, has not been a pleasant one in terms of democracy, accountability or the amount of control that ordinary people feel they have over their lives. Perhaps there are ways to reform those institutions in theory, but in practice they are loath to change and almost allergic to close scrutiny. Recall, even the prospect of losing its second largest economy and most powerful military member could not persuade the EU to consider the smallest of meaningful reforms.

Thus the European Union plods blindly onward towards a federal destination set decades ago by grey old men who presumed to decide for us how we ought to govern ourselves in the years following the Second World War, but who never thought to ask our permission. And the result is a remote and unloved supranational government whose “founding fathers” are unheralded and whose true leaders lack all accountability.

More worryingly, the ability of organic popular movements to influence the direction of supranational juggernauts like the EU is almost non-existent. Whether it is anti-austerity movements in Greece or the need for domestic industries to influence vital global trading rules in forums at which the EU speaks for all of us while really representing none of us, it is almost impossible to get the attention of EU leaders or encourage them to change direction. Just ask Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, or anybody who used to work in Britain’s beleaguered fishing industry.

I am patriotic because I love my country and consider it special and exceptional, yes. But I am also patriotic because I believe that the basic unit of the nation state remains a crucial building block in the world order, essential to the defence of our rights and liberties, and will remain so until humanity finds a way to make the various supranational institutions now undermining nation states more democratically legitimate and more responsive to popular opinion.

And so when confronted with a movement full of people who talk eagerly about being post-patriotic, who revel in being “more European than British” and who want to dissolve our democracy into a remote and dysfunctional supranational government of Europe without a second thought for our own distinct history and culture, I oppose them. Because however well-intentioned they may be, they are actively undermining the one institution (imperfect though it may be) which has thus far kept us relatively free and prosperous for centuries – our own nation state, the United Kingdom.

Does this make me an “authoritarian”? I hardly see how. While Britain has its share of authoritarian tendencies (which I despise and frequently campaign against), these tend to be even stronger on the continent. If hate speech laws seem draconian here, they would only become stricter if we were to harmonise our laws with those of much of mainland Europe. Want the police to regularly use water cannon to break up public protests? Again, look to Europe, not Britain. Much of Europe is ambivalent about property rights, to the extent that no watertight right to property is truly enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

And putting all that aside, the vast majority of people in this and other European countries, when asked, do not want their countries to become dissolved into a federal European government and assume the subordinate rank of American states. Maybe rejecting this Utopian vision is backward and foolish, but a fully federal Europe is not what people want (which is why the EU has been forced to move in this direction by unapologetic stealth and deception for over half a century). So since the majority of people in the countries of Europe are not yet post-patriotic, how does opposing an institution which seeks to covertly undermine their wishes make me an authoritarian? And how does it make the people who know the truth but still support this vision enlightened “liberals”?

So much as I admire Jonathan Haidt, hail his work in exposing the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics and agree with most of his diagnosis of the reasons behind the current populist backlash, I cannot support his conclusion because it totally fails to take into account people like me and other liberal Leavers and Brexiteers.

Indeed, Haidt’s usual perceptiveness appears to desert him when he suggests that something simply snaps and makes people “get really racist, homophobic” when confronted with pro-globalism policies and sentiments. That is simply not how it works. All racists may be anti-globalist almost by definition, but that does not mean that everybody with reservations about globalism (as it currently exists) is remotely prone to racism.

Clearly there are other reasons for opposing globalist projects (or the current state of globalism, at least) that have nothing to do with authoritarianism, including those I have outlined here, which Haidt fails to take into consideration.

The full picture behind 2016’s populist backlash has yet to be fully understood.

 

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Nick Clegg, Defiler Of Liberalism, Has Something To Say About Populism

Populism is bad, mmkaaay?

“I think it’s important to remember populism can be a very positive, can be – I mean, Gandhi was a kind of populist. If populism is about challenging a complacent elite, challenging an established order, speaking for people who are not spoken for, populism is a really really important antidote for complacency in politics” – Nick Clegg

The only way that one can hold this seemingly benign attitude toward populism while deploring Brexit and the vote to leave the European Union is either to misunderstand the true nature and purpose of the EU, or to be engaging in deliberate deception.

Nick Clegg is not an uneducated man. With his career, he knows better than most precisely what the EU is, how it operates and where it is heading. He knows that the European Union is more than the “friendship ‘n co-operation”, humble free trade club portrayed by deceitful Remainers during the referendum campaign. In other words, the ignorance excuse is not available to Nick Clegg.

That leaves only the conclusion that Nick Clegg is a liar. A very affable and eloquent liar, certainly, but a liar all the same, and a particularly dangerous one for his gifts.

Nick Clegg would seriously have us believe that the European Union has nothing to do with a “complacent elite”, an “established order” or “complacency in politics”, and that therefore Britain voting to liberate ourselves from the EU is therefore the “bad kind” of populism as opposed to the virtuous kind, which he happily supports. How anybody could sit and listen to him advance this view without either laughing or heckling is completely beyond me.

What nonsense; Nick Clegg has no time for populism of any kind, because it inevitably threatens the rule and routines of the elite in which he is so personally ensconced. Besides the archetypal High Tory, it is hard to imagine a senior British politician with less affinity for anyone who supports any populism movement. At his core, Nick Clegg believes that politics is something to be done to the people by enlightened, “liberal” elites like himself, not something for the masses to influence, with their base prejudices and uncomfortable opinions.

We know this because immediately prior to praising populism, Nick Clegg also said this:

“Populism is redolent with kind of uncontrollable rages and angers and passions, whereas liberalism – at least the liberalism I believe in – is about reason, rationality and evidence, and so on and so forth.”

No. The “liberalism” that Nick Clegg believes in consists of insulating oneself inside an hermetically sealed, epistemically closed information loop, listening only to those “experts” or paying heed to those “facts” which are conveniently in line with one’s own globalist, anti-nation state worldview to the complete exclusion of all other parameters, angles and viewpoints, before applying “reason” to that desperately narrow window on reality and pronouncing verdicts which always comfort and never challenge the metropolitan Regressive Left mindset.

Nick Clegg is perfectly entitled to hold and profess those seethingly anti-democratic, elitist positions. But he should not be allowed to get away with calling himself a liberal while he does so.

Watch this fascinating Intelligence Squared debate/discussion between the excellent social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and the sneering, unrepentantly euro-elitist Nick Clegg, on the subject of populism.

 

nick-clegg

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The Cult Of Social Justice: Many Students Do Not Want To Be Coddled, But Universities Give Them No Choice

Would you rather your child went to a university which promotes rigorous debate and the search for truth, or a coddling daycare centre which seeks to shelter young adults from contradictory opinions and unpleasant facts while enthusiastically validating their every life choice?

In this short, entertaining lecture delivered to American high school seniors preparing for college, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (and co-author of “The Coddling Of The American Mind“) switches between characters to portray two different university recruitment speakers, one representing Strengthen University and the other attempting to attract students to Coddle University.

Strengthen U. is described in these terms:

We are kind of a cult. We worship truth – this is our sacred value. We will throw anything overboard if it conflicts with this sacred value. In fact, the one act of sacrilege in our school is dishonesty.

Our motto actually comes more recently, from Thomas Jefferson: “For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

[..] So at Strengthen University, we offer hard classes. Everybody doesn’t get an A. You might even get some Ds, you might even fail a course. At Strengthen, we will not do anything to bolster your self esteem. We will teach you skills, we will give you opportunities to succeed, and if you do, you will feel very proud of yourself, you will deserve your self esteem. But we will not build it for you.

We will give you no safe spaces. We do not buy Play Doh and put it in safe spaces for students who feel “threatened”. We will never give you a trigger warning. When you are in a course, if the professor assigns a book we expect that you will not be destroyed by reading the book. If it has ideas you don’t like, we hope you’ll object.

At Strengthen, our sacred value is truth. And what that means is that we are very vigilant – that we never allow a climate in which our students feel they are walking on eggshells. If everybody is afraid of saying something, afraid that if they open their mouth and say what they think they’ll get pulled over by PC Principal [..] that is just death for free inquiry. So we will not allow that to happen.

So here’s the most dangerous thing you need to know about Strengthen University. Adults will not get involved in your relationships. Now think about this: what are you gonna do if somebody insults you? What are you gonna do if somebody uses a racial slur? What are you going to do if someone uses the N-word?

Now, for thousands of years – up until the 1990s – students dealt with this on their own. They might fight back, they might shame the person, they might talk to the person. Since the 1990s there have been speech codes that give adults authority to punish people who commit hate crimes or who use hate speech. What I’m telling you is that we are currently fighting the Department of Education on this, and we expect to win [..] and we expect that we will be legally allowed to stay out of your relationships. We expect you to handle it yourself.

While Coddle U. is pitched to the students in this way:

It’s a wonderful school, a very safe school, supportive school, I urge you to come. We were founded in 1965 based on the ideas of Herbert Marcuse, who was a German sociologist and political philosopher. He came to America – fleed the Nazis, did much of his work at Brandeis and many other schools.

At Coddle, our sacred value is Inclusion. We create a safe, welcoming space for all students. Any colour, any gender, any gender identity, whatever it is, we want to include you. Our sacrilege – the worst thing you can do at Coddle – is blame victims. We will not allow this, that is a violation of our sacred value. We don’t want anyone to feel excluded.

We have very good justification for this policy because the works of our founder, Dr. Marcuse. He wrote this wonderful essay in 1965, it was published in a book “A Critique of Pure Tolerance”, in which Marcuse explained why it is that things should not be tolerated if they impede “the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery”. Of course that’s our goal – don’t we all want the world to be free of fear and misery? So if certain kinds of actions and speech impede the creation of that world, why should we tolerate them?

[..] He goes on to describe what he calls “liberating tolerance”, which would mean intolerance against movements from the Right – because they are intolerant – and toleration of movements from the Left. We will make space for any movement from the Left, but we will not allow movements from the Right at Coddle University.

[..] We are based on a very simple psychology which is that people are fragile. People are so easily hurt. Anything that upsets you could trigger trauma, repressed trauma, unrepressed trauma, trauma that you somehow put up there in the closet and forgot to take – there’s trauma all over your mind and your memory. And we don’t want to trigger your trauma. That could damage you.

And this is especially true for members of the six protected classes [women, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, differently abled, and Native Americans]. If you are a member of one of the six marginalised and oppressed groups you are especially vulnerable. You’ve been traumatised and oppressed your whole lives. Microaggression theory teaches us that when people repeatedly cut these little nicks, these little insults, these little exclusions, they don’t develop calluses, they bleed to death. And so we will not let you be cut while you are at Coddle. We will protect you. Now don’t try to do it yourself, that’s very dangerous. WE will protect YOU from aggression.

At Coddle University we offer access to therapists 24/7. Just dial 811 from any phone, or we have this new feature – just raise three fingers, go like this [he gestures] and we have sensors all around campus, go like this and a therapist will be airlifted right into you. We are a campus-wide safe space, there is no risk of exposure to non-progressive ideas. You will not find it in our curriculum, that would be triggering.

Watch the whole thing when you have a chance.

As amusing as this short video is, it is remarkable how little Jonathan Haidt had to exaggerate his pastiche of a modern liberal university campus. Save for the drones buzzing around, ready to winch fully-trained therapists down to soothe your emotional crisis at a moment’s notice, everything which Haidt talks about is already the norm on many campuses.

Non-progressive groups are banned or their speakers disinvited from campus.

The curriculum is mutilated in an attempt to replace the western canon with “marginalised voices” of dubious lasting value.

Those who do not go along with the progressive orthodoxy are subject to violence and intimidation.

However, there are just a few encouraging signs that we might finally be approaching Peak SJW, that the sheer intolerance of academic freedom and debate shown by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is becoming untenable within an academic environment. At the University of Missouri, scene of campus protests, sit-ins and hunger strikes in sympathy with the Black Lives Matter movement, new student enrolment is significantly down and financial crisis beckons. Turns out, many parents have qualms about sending their kids off to shrill social justice indoctrination factories when they could be getting a rigorous education elsewhere.

Jonathan Haidt’s presentation distils the issue neatly, and asks a group of young school-leavers what kind of institution they think will best serve their future interests – the overbearing, 24/7 watchfulness of Coddle U or the resilience and antifragility-building environment of Strengthen U.

It is a question which needs to be put to more school leavers as they make their decisions over which universities to apply to. Though the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is hard at work subverting secondary/high schools, for now it remains the case that most school leavers will not yet have been indoctrinated into the cult. There is a narrow, precious window to reach these young people to emphasise the importance of academic freedom, and Jonathan Haidt’s lecture should be required watching for all school-leavers.

In fact, combining thought-provoking talks like this with better information as to the state of academic freedom at different institutions (as with Spiked‘s Free Speech University Rankings) could help many students make better, more informed choices about which institution they choose to spend the next three or four years of their lives.

And while a pervasive hostility to conservative ideas and contempt for free speech may matter less to most students than a lively social scene and the prospect of cheap beer, those students who value academic freedom and robust debate should be given the information to vote with their feet.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

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Jonathan Haidt On The Social Justice Self-Destruction Of Our Universities

Jonathan Haidt discusses the madness which has taken hold of our colleges and universities

Social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt has an excellent interview on The Rubin Report, talking about the takeover of universities in the English-speaking Western world by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics.

The full 30 minute video is well worth a watch, but these selected observations in particular stand out.

On the cult-like nature of the new PC movement:

We love to identify something as a sacred object, like a rock or a tree. Traditional religions would make a person or a river, something as sacred. And then we circle around it, we worship it, we make sacrifices to it. And that’s the way religions have always worked.

Well, now that formal religions are fading out, we have these new moralistic religions. So – “fighting racism”. You know, very good cause. But when fighting racism becomes the centre of a religious cult, you get all these extreme policies. And this is what universities have been for several decades – they have been basically been cults devoted to fighting racism. Again, a good aim. But it has been warping research.

And as it applies to racism, so it applies to today’s transgender bathrooms furore in North Carolina and across the United States:

Everybody at university is totally in favour of gay rights, gay marriage, that’s been true for decades. And it’s the most amazing thing that American society just in that twenty years we go from like “no way, never!” to “wow, okay, I guess that’s the law of the land” and most people accept it. So twenty years, that’s amazing.

Okay, but now what’s weird is three years ago nobody knew a transgender person, nobody thought about it – it wasn’t on anybody’s radar. So to make it in three years from that to “You must do this!” – this, I think, is a bridge too far. And this, I think, Obama is going to be remembered for this, I think it’s gonna cause a lot of reaction, because the country was not ready for this and it’s not appropriate for the federal government – I can see why the supreme court would way in on marriage rights because marriage has to be coordinated among the states, I get that – bathrooms? The federal government, bathrooms? Did nobody read The Federalist Papers? Has nobody read the Constitution? This is nuts.

And once this battle has been won by the Social Justice Warriors, new demands will be made:

As certain elements of the social justice Left have been victorious on certain fronts, this is the newest battleground. And so this becomes an object of sort of sacredness and extreme devotion. So the way to understand all these moral movements is as a kind of a crusade that binds people together.

[..] A good moral and political movement needs a good clear enemy. So you must, you must believe that the other side is really strong and is adamant against you, and racism is everywhere, sexism is everywhere, transphobia is everywhere, homophobia is everywhere. So you need a good solid enemy. And even though universities are the most anti-racist, anti-sexist places in the country, but it’s an article of faith that they are institutionally racist, institutionally sexist.

So it’s an incoherent movement if you look at it from the outside, but psychologically it’s very standard sort of Manichean, Us versus Them religion.

And on victimhood culture, and the hierarchy of the oppressed:

What’s happening is kind of a moral movement on campus, where the sort of social justice Left – and you find this on every campus, you find a group, they’ll meet, they’ll often take gender studies courses and intersectionality stuff, all that stuff – so you’ll have a group which is very much in an Us versus Them mindset. And everybody on every side thinks they’re the victim, that’s what’s so interesting here.

[..] So there’s seven. So there’s the big three, which is where almost all the controversy, almost all the stuff on campus is about, so it’s African Americans, women and LGBTs. That’s what almost everything is on campus. Then there’s what you might call the little three – not that they’re small, just less prominent – and that is Latino, handicapped of any kind, and Native Americans. Those are the six that have been around for decades. Just in the last year it’s Muslims. So the Left – and this is very alarming to me, I’m Jewish, and suddenly to say, you know, Jews are oppressors, Jews are evil, so there’s a lot of sympathy on the Left.

Also fascinating is the breakdown by subject – the illiberal, regressive Left has utterly captured some sections of the university while others are holding out far better:

The illiberal Left is a small portion, and then the liberal left – because liberals traditionally believed in freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of thought – so the illiberal Left has everybody else scared. It’s the students overwhelmingly. Because the students – everyone is afraid of the students. Students are afraid of the students, professors are afraid of the students. So the illiberal Left make these demands, they march into the president’s office, they demand this and that, they accuse everybody of racism and sexism, and because everybody is on the Left and everybody is afraid of the students, nobody stands up.

So when the Christakis at Yale [see here for more on the Yale Halloween Costume Drama of 2015]  so within three days there was a giant petition, five hundred Yale professors backing the students. Well, I had one of my research assistants find out what departments they’re all in, it was gender studies, film studies, English, it was that stuff. So the humanities, they’re totally onboard with this. The humanities are full of illiberal leftists.

Four weeks later, a small petition, forty names, mostly STEM – mostly scientists. So the natural scientists are still liberals, they believe in openness, they believe in debate. So that’s what you have to keep in mind. The problem comes out of the humanities, the social sciences are in the middle, and the question is where does the illiberal Left have such dominance that the professors are afraid to speak?

And finally, on the nascent fightback:

The methods that the students have demanded – more social justice training, more bias reporting systems, anonymous reporting systems, diversity training – these are going to make things so much worse.

And what I’m really encouraged by is this: outside the university, everyone thinks they’re crazy. And so the first university presidents who just caved in – so Peter Salovey at Yale, Christina Paxson at Brown, the first university presidents who were faced with a mob of angry students just said “woah, you’re right! We’re so racist! Brown is racist, Brown is racist, oh my god! Here’s fifty million dollars!”, Peter Salovey said. A hundred million dollars for diversity! So the first presidents did that.

What happens? The alumni are like, “what are you doing?! What are you doing to our – no. We’re not giving to you any more”. And Missouri, things are way down in Missouri, they’re in big trouble. The first presidents all caved in. But then they started hearing from alumni, they were laughing stocks, everyone was making fun of them, and so now we’re seeing some presidents willing to stand up because they know that if they cave in they are going to be made fun of forever and they care about their legacy.

The same situation has been observed in Britain, with leaders of Oriel College at Oxford University scrambling to backtrack on lavish concessions granted to angry “Rhodes Must Fall” students after being contacted by furious alumni and finding major pledged donations suddenly in calamitous jeopardy.

Haidt’s conclusion:

So I think we have turned a corner. Presidents aren’t just going to lie down and give in any more, that’s one. Alumni are mad as hell, they’re saying “we’re not giving if you do this because we believe in free speech and we don’t want to turn it into a left wing propaganda factory”. And I think we’re gonna see more students rising up, we’re not that yet. I mean, there are conservative groups on each campus but even they are often afraid to speak up. But I think next year we are going to see a lot more students standing up, alumni standing up, so I think the tide is turning.

I hope and pray that this is the case. But as Britain lags a couple of years behind the United States in the progression of the disease, it could well be that remission is similarly further away.

And:

So I think things are going to change when the younger – when the high school kids now, kids who are in high school now, when they join in laughing at these silly campus snowflakes, at students who are afraid to see a photograph or hear a word – so I think mockery and humour is actually the way that honour revolutions happen. So keep up the mockery and humour, I say, good work.

That certainly chimes with the message of this blog – see here and here.

Haidt himself admits to having been pushed from being first left-wing to centrist, and then again to a sometimes libertarian stance by these developments. And one suspects that Haidt is far from alone in this – that many people with absolutely no racist or homophobic tendencies are nonetheless being alienated by a social justice movement which preaches collective guilt and brings shrill charges of heresy against anybody who does not instantly conform 100% to the latest Newspeak.

This relates to the remarkable lack of magnanimity shown by the victors of the culture wars towards those whose only crime was not to be in the vanguard of change, loudly cheering from the front – something picked up on by Andrew Sullivan, among others.

But then Jonathan Haidt and Andrew Sullivan are just middle-aged white males, so what would they know about anything?

 

Jonathan Haidt - Social Justice

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 35 – Conservative Professors In The Closet

Melissa Click - Mizzou - University of Missouri

Conservative students and professors have long felt the need to downplay, disguise or hide their true political leanings

We have long known that the university campus and large parts of the academy are a hostile environment – an unsafe space, if you will – for those of a conservative mindset, student and professor alike.

One recent study identified just eight right-leaning academics in the field of social psychology and a ratio of 36 liberal to 1 conservative-leaning professors.

Emma Green at The Atlantic introduces an interesting conversation with the authors of “Passing On The Right”, a book about the difficulties faced by conservative university professors who find themselves very much in the minority on campus:

The assumption that most college campuses lean left is so widespread in American culture that it has almost become a caricature: intellectuals in thick-rimmed glasses preaching Marxism on idyllic grassy quads; students protesting minor infractions against political correctness; raging professors trying to prove that God is, in fact, dead. Studies about professors’ political beliefs and voting behavior suggest this assumption is at least somewhat correct. But Shields and Dunn set out to investigate a more nuanced question: For the minority of professors who are cultural and political conservatives, what’s life actually like?

Finding out wasn’t easy, in part because so many conservative professors are—as they put it—closeted. Some of the people they interviewed explicitly said they identify with the experience of gays and lesbians in having to hide who they are. One tenure-track sociology professor even asked to meet Shields and Dunn in a park a mile away from his university. “When the sound of footsteps intruded on our sanctuary, he stopped talking altogether, his eyes darting about,” they write. “Given the drama of this encounter, one might think that he is concealing something scandalous. In truth, this professor is hiding the fact that he is a Republican.”

These professors – the vanishingly small number of conservatives who even bother pursuing careers in the social sciences – are not only scared of their students. That much is a relatively new development. They are also scared of their peers in academia, and their bosses in university leadership roles.

For example:

A historian at an elite research university, for example, said he was initially denied tenure on account of his political views. He discovered that a colleague had in a letter referred to him as an “appalling Eurocentric conservative” for suggesting to students that North Korea should be blamed for the Korean War. Another extremely productive sociologist was voted down for tenure by his colleagues and dean, only to have the vote reversed by a provost — due in part to some liberal colleagues who cried foul at the process. One such colleague reportedly told the sociologist in question, “Your religion, your politics, entered into the discussion for tenure and basically a lot of extraneous things were not relevant to [your] performance were questioned.” That professor and others with similar experiences said they initially — and perhaps naïvely — thought that their research, teaching and service records would speak for themselves come tenure time, and that writing occasional essays for conservative publications or otherwise “showing” their views wouldn’t matter.

So this is the famous liberal tolerance. And now, compounding this hostile environment, we have the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics to contend with.

The Right cannot afford to continue surrendering the academy to their opponents. Neither it is in the interests of the Left to wield such dominance, for their ability to debate and innovate sensible new policy is already starting to atrophy through lack of a conservative counterpoint.

It’s time for a fightback.

 

More Tales From The Safe Space here.

 

Conservatives - University - Campus Conservatism

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