Nicholas Kristof does it again, demonstrating the all-too-common inanity of the NY Times’ op-ed pages. He’s very concerned that college campuses have become “echo chambers”.
I share apprehensions about President-elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become. When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they’re not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans.
We liberals are adept at pointing out the hypocrisies of Trump, but we should also address our own hypocrisy in terrain we govern, such as most universities: Too often, we embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological. Repeated studies have found that about 10 percent of professors in the social sciences or the humanities are Republicans.
“We” liberals? Kristof is more of a privileged center-right kind of White Dufus. Just the fact that now, in the time of Trump, he finds it important to wag his finger and tut-tut at those damn liberal universities tells you that he isn’t one of us. He’s the sleazy con man cozying up to you, smarmily reassuring you that he is on your side, while he’s planning to pick your pocket.
It is ridiculous to even suggest that students live in a bubble, and that we need to make a special effort to help them meet Republicans. We are surrounded by them. Many grew up in Republican families. There are Republican students here, and Republican student clubs. Republicans have been aggressively plastering campus bulletin boards with Republican political slogans. We have a far right Republican alternative paper littering the campus. If 10% of our professors are Republican, it’s rather definite that students will encounter them. Even his own numbers make it clear that his whine is nonsensical.
Since 40% of Americans are creationists, does that mean, that using Kristof’s calculus, we should be hiring more biology professors who deny evolution and reject all of the evidence? We should aim to be representative of all good ideas, not simply all ideas; we should have standards. Education is not simply the indiscriminate dumping of every delusion that has been farted out into the world into students’ heads.
Some of you are saying that it’s O.K. to be intolerant of intolerance, to discriminate against bigots who acquiesce in Trump’s record of racism and misogyny. By all means, stand up to the bigots. But do we really want to caricature half of Americans, some of whom voted for President Obama twice, as racist bigots? Maybe if we knew more Trump voters we’d be less inclined to stereotype them.
That’s standard right-wing cant coming from our so-called fellow liberal. How do you know that “many” of them voted for Obama twice? Only about 40% of eligible voters did their duty this time around, you know; it is possible for [Obama voters] and [Trump voters] to be non-overlapping sets. I expect that there are some who did vote that way, but keep in mind that 3% of the electorate voted for Gary Johnson. There’s a fair bit of noise and badly informed voting going on.
But this is the tired old “I have friends who are black” or “I’d let a black man use my bathroom” excuse. It doesn’t matter. Trump campaigned on nativism, discrimination, and open racism. The people who voted for him didn’t see any of that as a problem. That makes them implicitly racist.
I know a few Trump voters. It’s not stereotyping to say they made a bad decision for very bad reasons. And yes, the entire white population of America is racist to varying degrees, so it’s not a caricature, it’s a statement of fact. (Which statement will, no doubt, elicit louder howls of protest than the fact that unarmed black men get murdered by the police. I know my people.)
The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,” Sunstein told me.
Of course, we shouldn’t empower racists and misogynists on campuses. But whatever some liberals think, “conservative” and “bigot” are not synonyms.
Good grief. Liberals didn’t equate conservatives with racists and misogynists. Conservatives did, by happily embracing the Southern strategy, making theocracy a key plank, using racist gerrymandering to pad their representation, engaging in voter suppression, and now, electing a racist, misogynist incompetent to the presidency. You don’t get to complain that conservative and bigot have become synonymous when that is precisely the identity modern conservatives have consciously adopted!
I’ve known conservatives. I’ve listened to conservative ideas, and even when I’ve disagreed with them haven’t necessarily thought them stupid. I consider Obama to be a moderate, sensible conservative, too, who has implemented quite a few policies I find wrong…but Jesus, at least he’s been a competent bureaucrat. But those were conservatives before Reagan, the Gingrich revolution, the Tea Party, and the ascendancy of Trumpkinism. I’d be willing to agree that those crappy ideas are actually radical, reactionary bullshit that is not conservative at all, but when Republicans, the conservative party, have become the willing reservoir of the brain-eating prion disease of far-right loonitarianism, they’ve bought it, they own it, and they don’t get to now claim conservative thinking isn’t a vile toxin infecting the Republic because Eisenhower was pretty restrained and sensible, once upon a time.