Blogs > Liberty and Power > Multiculturalism Loyalty Oath

Nov 28, 2005 11:55 am

Multiculturalism Loyalty Oath

In the Spring 2005 issue of the journal Academic Questions, social scientists Stanley Rothman, Neil Nevitte, and S. Robert Lichter reported results from a random 1999 sample of more than 1,600 U.S. university faculty from about 180 institutions. The researchers reported that 72% identified themselves as liberals and 15% as conservatives. They also found that even after accounting for the effects of publication record, gender, race, and religion, politically conservative or Republican faculty tend to work at less prestigious institutions.

Of course, statistically significant correlation does not prove causation. Some anecdotal instances may enhance the plausibility of a causal interpretation involving anti-conservative bias. According to a press release from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), several years ago, Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania asked job applicants to"’provide a brief statement of your commitment to diversity and how this commitment is demonstrated in your work,’ and to ‘certify’ their understanding that ‘any false or misleading statement on this application constitutes sufficient grounds for dismissal.’”

Following FIRE’s intervention and subsequent publicity, the statement was removed. Nonetheless, one may wonder whether it indicated the presence of a widespread, unspoken agenda at many schools.

What seems most striking here is that such statements potentially discourage applications not only from conservatives but also from anyone who refuses to pledge loyalty to a dominant ideology. In this light, certain ads for administrative positions this year may seem especially bothersome.

The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia is seeking a dean, the chief administrative official of the college. In a solicitation for applicants posted on the web site of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the college says that the applicant should possess the ability to “vigorously support diversity initiatives.”

Imagine a person who believes that one’s race and gender play no legitimate role in one’s qualifications for faculty appointment. If such a person is interested in the position, may not he or she feel discouraged from applying? Of course, the ad does not rule out such candidates absolutely. Surely, no sane person would commit ahead of time either to oppose or support whatever is proposed in the name of diversity. Might not the potential applicant reasonably wonder if applying would be fruitless, though?

A current ad from the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama is a bit more specific. It states that the successful applicant is expected to have “a deep commitment to recruiting and retaining faculty, staff, and students of color.” Here, our aspiring dean might face a sharper dilemma. How one can both believe that the ethnic background of faculty is irrelevant to personnel decisions yet commit to trying to hire members who belong to specific groups?

Making prospetive candidate swear a loyalty oath to multiculturalism must be intended to discourage applications even from liberals who believe that affirmative action should be based upon class, not race.

In its original sense, affirmative action was designed to broaden the process of identifying qualified candidates for jobs. No search can hire the best person if it relies solely upon good ‘ole boy networks for applicants, for example. Yet, as the University of Alabama example illustrates, today affirmative action has been transformed and will be used to restrict the pool of applicants to those who pass ideological muster.

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Robert Higgs - 12/1/2005

Gus DiZerega states: "For example, Independent Review rejected an article of mine for lack of ideological orthodoxy." As the editor of the Independent Review and thus the person responsible for having rejected said article, I can state with absolute confidence that this statement is false. Because I do not wish to cause Professor DiZerega any further embarrassment, I will not say what the grounds for rejection of his article actually were. As for whether the Review of Politics is a "far more respected journal" than the Independent Review, I am content to let others judge for themselves. I will say only that in contemplating their making such a judgment, I feel no apprehension whatsoever.

Gus diZerega - 11/29/2005

I do not doubt the statistics and the anecdotal accounts - but I question the interpretation a bit.

First, "conservative" today does not mean what it meant, say, in Goldwater's time. Often the two kinds of “conservatism” are so different as to be incomparable. A great deal (not all) that passes for conservative thought , at least in my field of political science, is crap.

For example, a newly minted self-described conservative PhD who is a visiting prof here at St. Lawrence (same status as me) talked about the virtues of federalism in his job talk - then in a conversation between us, endorsed what Congress did in the Terri Schiavo affair. This is not conservatism, let alone support for federalism, in any intellectually coherent sense. It is hackdom.

I would not hire him for a tenure track position - and I like federalism.

Another example: over the past couple of years I have encountered the term "big government conservative" used in a positive sense.

Finally, much of what is now called "conservative" is simply a code word for subordinating reason and intelligence to "revealed" religion. Consider the morons who endorse intelligent design and decry "discrimination" because no biology department in its right mind would hire them.

The meaning of liberal has also changed over the years.

Liberals have in most cases come to endorse the market, though scarcely to the degree that libertarians do. They are far from socialists in any meaningful sense of that word. Bill Clinton was a greater free trader than George Bush. Few self-described liberals seem to think we can "fine tune" the economy, like Great Society ones did in the 60s. Liberalism now embraces a very wide range of positions - I suspect considerably wider than among those who now call themselves conservatives. I also suspect that it is the faux-conservatives of today who are most responsible for perpetuating an image of 'liberalism' that has been misleading for a long time now. So the questionnaire is probably misleading here as well.

A more detailed questionaire about beliefs would be more helpful - asking where people stood on particular issues.

I can also state on a personal level that I have encountered more overt discrimination among conservatives than among liberals in my academic career, and that this is from the junior college level (say Orange County, CA, JC) to the college level (Hillsdale, U. of Puget Sound). Yet as regular readers know I am a very public fan and proponent of the work of Hayek - just not in an orthodox (read dogmatic) way.

I do not mean to deny liberal intolerance. I have encountered plenty of it as well, and did it not exist I might even have a tenured position by now. I know that all else being relatively equivalent, a woman or ethnic minority will receive preferential hiring in most situations, and also that some jobs are tailored for them. My specialty, political theory. is especially vulnerable to this. It used to be the other way around, and the “conservative” choice for the Supreme Court would presumably prefer it still to be the case.

Academia has always discriminated. Always. And it has always done so at least in part on ideological grounds when the social sciences are concerned because they cannot be hermetically removed from one another. Ideologies give us road maps for understanding the social world.

Conservatives when in the majority have discriminated. Behaviorists have done it. Marxists have done it. I suspect that libertarians, if they were in the majority, would do so as well. For example, Independent Review rejected an article of mine for lack of ideological orthodoxy. This was so even though it relied on Hayekian analysis. But the Review of Politics, a far more respected journal, accepted the same argument. The members of any ideological perspective who are genuinely interested in exploring the world from a variety of perspectives is very small.

As conservatism becomes increasingly associated with wingnuttery, one would expect any field that tries to respect reason would find them "under represented." And rightly so.