Saturday, April 2, 2005

Take That, Cal

Cal Thomas has a column in the Miami Herald today, moaning again about the liberals on college campuses.

According to a study by professors at Smith College, George Mason University and the University of Toronto (they surveyed 1,643 full-time faculty at 183 four-year schools), 72 percent of professors at American universities labeled themselves liberal, while just 15 percent said they are conservative; 50 percent of faculty members identified themselves as Democrats and only 11 percent Republicans.

Political science professors Robert Lichter of George Mason University, Neil Nevitte of the University of Toronto and Stanley Rothman of Smith College also found that 51 percent of those surveyed said they rarely or never attend church or synagogue.

These liberal leanings translate into liberal political beliefs. 84 percent of those surveyed are strongly or somewhat in favor of abortion rights, 67 percent think homosexuality is acceptable, 88 percent want more environmental protection ”even if it raises prices or costs jobs” and 65 percent want the government to ensure full employment, which puts the professors left of the Democratic Party.

Well, I couldn’t pass up the chance to fire back, so I clicked on the link on his column and dropped him an e-mail:

I gather from your column in today’s Miami Herald that you’re bothered by the fact that people with liberal leanings teach in colleges and universities and that they are swaying the minds of college students who might otherwise harbor conservative beliefs. Are you therefore saying that young conservative adults — people old enough to vote — are too stupid or too weak-willed to make up their own mind and that being exposed to a teacher with a different point of view will irreparably harm them? That sounds to me as if you have very little faith in your flock. You also have obviously not spent a lot of time on college campuses. Students aren’t just between the ages of 18 and 21; many are older and come from a variety of backgrounds.

I also wonder if the various polls you cite polled EVERY professor on campus. For instance, did they survey the political leanings of professors in business, physical education, law, medicine, engineering, criminal justice, or did they just hit the departments where they thought they’d find liberals, like English or Sociology. (By the way, being an English major doesn’t guarantee you a job – going to business school raises the odds a lot.)

Have you stopped to consider why there’s this alleged imbalance in the first place? Might it have something to do with the fact that teaching is not a high-paying profession, which is anathema to conservatives. You can’t be a real success as a conservative, apparently, if all you do is give back to the community and make a pittance at it.

Finally, it’s fine to get worked up about how many professors vote for Democrats… you need something to rail against, I suppose. But how many of the major institutions of American life are run by conservatives? Wall Street, the Pentagon, most of the major corporations; all of those are going to have a much more direct impact on daily life than some college professor waxing poetic about the war in Iraq. Yet that doesn’t bother me.

Tell you what, though…if you’ll let the liberals take over the Pentagon, we liberals will let you take over the Yale School of Drama.

Yeah, I’ve made this argument before and you, Dear Reader, are well aware of that fact that this is one of my pet peeves. But I couldn’t resist. Cal Thomas is such an easy target.