Op-Ed from Wayne Lela

The controversy over the cancellation of a debate that was to feature conservative Cliff Kincaid brought to mind a relatively old (1991) quote from a well-known liberal attorney, author, and professor named Alan Dershowicz, who back then was so disturbed by the lack of respect for free speech in certain liberal circles he’s on record as saying: “Political correctness is the most serious issue on college campuses. We are tolerating, and teaching, intolerance and hypocrisy” (James Warren, “Drawing Laughs,” Chicago Tribune, April 14, 1991, section 5, p. 2).

Things didn’t change much from 1991 by 2005. Indeed, the intolerance of the ever-so-trendy “politically correct” mob just seemed to have gotten worse (power may have gone to their heads). That motivated a libertarian syndicated columnist named Nat Hentoff to pen a piece titled “College no place for closed minds” (Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 15, 2005, p. 45). Some of the points he made: 1) even some mainstream educational groups (which Hentoff lists) expressed concern about the widespread intolerance and hostility on many college campuses towards conservative speakers, ideas and values; 2) liberal college professors outnumbered conservative professors by a 5 to 1 ratio; 3) in some classrooms on various college campuses “conservative students are intimidated into silence, ignored or occasionally ridiculed” by narrow-minded liberals; and 4) “indoctrination—instead of free inquiry— … characterizes much of higher education.”

According to an article in Washington Monthly magazine: “62.2 percent of professors self-identify as liberal, compared to 19.7 as conservative … 9.4 percent of faculty members say they’re ‘extremely liberal’” (Kevin Carey, “Tenured Moderates,” Washington Monthly, Jan./Feb. 2010, p. 52).

And according to an article in The New York Times: “It’s certainly true that professors are a liberal lot … [A]bout half of the professors identified as liberal, as compared to just one in five Americans over all … [Among academic] social scientists, for example, there were 10 Democrats for every Republican … There’s no doubt that in terms of overall curricular content and campus culture, most colleges and universities do skew more to the left than to the right” (Neil Gross, “The Indoctrination Myth,” The New York Times, “Sunday Review” section, March 4, 2012, p. 12).

Closed-minded, intolerant, ignorant liberal bigots who believe it’s okay to discriminate against conservatives and “politically incorrect” speech exist, and many of them are unfortunately found on college campuses, where they are using their influence to try to insinuate their questionable values into others. Hopefully students are aware of all the one-sided, liberal propaganda they are manipulatively being exposed to. But I fear they are not.

It would be nice to see students pushing for intellectual diversity on their campuses, and maybe even affirmative  action for hiring a true minority on college campuses: conservative teachers. Until that happens, liberal college professors and liberal students will feel free to continue to try to take advantage of others. That needs to change.

-Wayne Lela