March 24, 2007

On classroom advocacy, diversity, and neutrality.

Lawprof Stanley Fish is doing guest columns this month in the NYT, and today -- TimesSelect link -- he's denouncing teachers who appropriate the classroom for political advocacy:
A student assigned to study an issue must be equipped with the appropriate analytical skills. Acquiring and applying those skills in no way depend on political or ideological affiliations. If the assignment is to give an account of the dispute about gay adoption rather than to come down on one side or the other, two students with opposing views of the matter might very well produce the very same account. Academic performance and individual beliefs are independent variables. They have nothing to do with each other....

“Intellectual diversity” — a term of art introduced by the conservative activist David Horowitz — mandates the proportional representation, on the faculty and in the curriculum, of conservatives and liberals. Its watchword is “balance,” but balance is a political measure, not an educational measure, for it could be achieved only by monitoring the political affiliations of professors and the political content of the materials they assign.
So, left-wing professors had their great success bringing politics to the classroom, and that gave rise to Horowitz's conservative "intellectual diversity" campaign, and now that the conservatives are getting successful, the vision of the neutral professor -- once scorned by lefties -- is portrayed as attractive. Hmmmm..... It is all politics, isn't it?

54 comments:

Todd said...

Does that mean you support the law Fish discusses?

Freder Frederson said...

She never said that. Of course she never didn't say that either.

But of course she isn't a conservative either. She just disdains "left-wing professors".

Gahrie said...

But of course she isn't a conservative either. She just disdains "left-wing professors".

She'd sure have a tough time in the staff lounge at her university then...

I take away the idea that she scorns the hypocrisy of many Leftwing professors. But then, given the behavior of the Leftwing, I can understand why you would think this was a conservative idea.

Peter Palladas said...

Academic performance and individual beliefs are independent variables.

Utter nonsense whether taken prescriptively or descriptively.

Robots teaching androids.

If that's what's wanted then I'm skipping classes to go make passes at women who wear glasses.

AJ Lynch said...

No it's fear. Fear of being proven wrong. Fear that things you believe strongly will be mocked and discarded by younger generations as wrong or foolish. Fear that people will use their own intellects to make decsions and form opinions. Hence the affort at indoctrination.

Kirby Olson said...

It's amazing what David Horowitz has achieved almost single-handedly in terms of forcing a conversation about the issues. He's like the man in Tianamen Square who stood up against the row of Maoist tanks. The only difference is that Horowitz isn't moving, and the tanks are going in every direction.

MikeinSC said...

RC, it's really easy to say "Well, just let people who can teach get hired, no matter their ideology" when the people in charge of the hiring and the granting of tenure tend to be on solely one side of the political spectrum.
-=Mike

dave™© said...

"Left wingers are such poo-poo heads" said the ever-so-moderate not-at-all-repeater-of-right-wing-talking-points Blithering Misogynist Law Professor.

I'm sure she'll get a "Indeedy" from fellow "moderate" Professor Ernest T. Bass.

And then her day will be complete!

SteveR said...

Dave, still a stupid idiot

SGT Ted said...

"And of course, I need to point out that what Horowitz wants isn't merely balance, he is still the ultimate totalitarian communist. He wants tests and quotas and mandated government agendas." -RC

This is a flat out BS lie. He opposes such and has said as much many, many times. Nice try at the smear tho. It's good to catch you at a big fat lie too.

SGT Ted said...

Its also funny that you bitch about an imaginary mandated intelectual diversity quota when I real sure you are all for them when they are based on race or gender.

PatCA said...

If political advocacy is removed from academia, about one-third of the people there would lose their jobs--so this is going to be a fight.


Meanwhile, somebody flunked diversity re-education camp: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_5505359

ron st.amant said...

I've had professors of various political leanings...the good ones are the ones who don't mind being challenged intellectually by hearing another point of view...the bad ones are the ones that disregard any idea contrary to theirs as heretical and unworthy of merit...the GREAT ones are the ones whose political leanings you can never really uncover.

reality check said...

Its also funny that you bitch about an imaginary mandated intelectual diversity quota when I real sure you are all for them when they are based on race or gender.

You don't know much about me then. It's good to catch you in a big old lie.

So what is Horowitz's cure?

reality check said...

Here is his Academic Bill of Rights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Bill_of_Rights

How is Horowitz going to achieve the diversity, neutrality, objectivity he claims to seek without tests, quotas, and a government mandated agenda?

Sounds like a lot of government regulation, speech codes, policing, and intrusion to Ann's classroom if you ask me.

B said...

RC - I agree with your first post, except the part where you have to call everyone an idiot - you're supposed to finish your toilet training first, then you can sit at the big people's table.

Let teachers teach and be open about their views (We can only pray for the day when the New York Times has such honesty - but, sigh, another day). As long as a student's grades are not affected because he or she espouses different viewpoints from the teacher, then your point is well made.

But tell me - how do we get more teachers that are not left-wing into academia, when it's more provable than even global warming that most universities don't and won't promote righties very often?

Kirk Parker said...

SteveR,

DNFTT.

rightwingprof said...

Why, you sound so cynical (-:

Actually, Fish did an about-face on this whole issue before Horowitz started making a splash.

rightwingprof said...

"There is no such thing as being non-partisan, or neutral, or unbiased humans. There are only humans that are open about their beliefs and humans that have to hide their beliefs."

That's utter drivel. One presents material in the classroom. One also chooses whether to inject irrelevant political discourse into the material or not, or whether to let one's own slant on the material affect his presentation of it. What views I or Professor Althouse may have are an entirely different issue from the material.

"Horowitz wants isn't merely balance, he is still the ultimate totalitarian communist. He wants tests and quotas and mandated government agendas."

And that's complete nonsense that you cannot substantiate.

As far as Horowitz not moving, FIRE has brought down yet one more unconstitutional campus speech code at Dalton State. Utter the magic word "lawsuit," and university administrations drop their speech codes. They know the codes are unconstitutional. They don't care.

"If political advocacy is removed from academia, about one-third of the people there would lose their jobs"

Indeed. Whole programs and departments do nothing that can be called research (the word is "scholarship"), and exist purely as political entities. Every X-Studies department (replace "X" with your favorite oppressed, disadvantaged, marginalized group) does nothing whatsoever that can even be called intellectual. The problem is that they were created in the first place, and that the university has so little regard for their own academic purpose that these programs are allowed to exist.

Cedarford said...

Ironies abound.

Fish - A student assigned to study an issue must be equipped with the appropriate analytical skills. Acquiring and applying those skills in no way depend on political or ideological affiliations.

But as English Dept Chair and along with Nan Keohane, Fish is the guy that did the Duke hiring and tenure committees, Fish helped create the whole PC and Critical Studies movement at Duke. Which recently culminated in motions for a change of venue for accused students partially on grounds that their own faculty was hostile and antagonstic towards white male heterosexuals.

It is hard for Fish to now turn around and champion "neutral" professors when he set up whole new Departments and influenced the whole national university system to hire based on the Discipline requiring a certain proper ideology in the professor and the hire should come from "authentic identity" in order to teach it

If African American Studies, Queer Studies, Womans Studies, "postmodern" literature and history can only be taught by people "of those identities" and "of the correct ideological perspective" it doesn't matter what the "New" Stanley Fish says about not acting like the Group of 88 did. As long as they have the power of hiring, tenure, and grading - and see all learning as occuring in the victim-oppressor context - universities infected with hard left dominance of staff cannot pretend to be neutral in teaching and publications.

If a law school only hired in card-carrying ACLU members, their tenure was approved by senior faculty and ACLU officers - then they were told to be neutral in class? Well, the tenured ones would blow that off - be pro forma neutral, but everyone would know where their sympathies and favortism rested - if they even bothered to put on the act. Those on tenured track would take their cues from the "Lions of the ACLU" law professors, and students instinctively would know the "safest and most optimal for a good grade," postions, to take.

The same would be true if a law school only hired from the Federalist Society.

So no one should think that Stanley Fish is doing anything more than damage control. He wants hiring and tenure control in the hands of the Hard Left so movements like Horowitz's are weakened...in return he promises those 90-100% Hard Left Critical Studies and "pomo deconstructionist, Foucault minion, uber Feminist" humanities professors will "behave themselves and be neutral with students".

Fat chance.

Look what happened at Duke with Stanley Fish's personal hires and tenure choices.

reality check said...

B, except the part where you have to call everyone an idiot I think you may be missing out on some of the grand fun of the Internet.

We can only pray for the day when the New York Times has such honesty - but, sigh, another day I have exactly the same complaint, and not just for the NYTimes, but for all of the media. My complaint with Fox is not how they present the news, but in their bogus "fair and balanced."

it's more provable than even global warming that most universities don't and won't promote righties very often?

I would have to see some data on that. My impression from the schools (and departments) I went to and graduated from were that politics were not considered for promotion or tenure and that the heads of the departments probably were conservatives.

Ann has done very well for herself, and she is clearly a) biased, and b) pretending she is not. Think how much more interesting and valuable she would be to her students if she could just take a stand and not have to pussy foot around so much.

I think her students would very much like to hear her defense of torture and repeal of habeas, and debate that.

reality check said...

There is no such thing as being non-partisan, or neutral, or unbiased humans. There are only humans that are open about their beliefs and humans that have to hide their beliefs."

That's utter drivel.


No, I think that's the lesson of Heisenberg, Picasso, and Thompson.

Imagine how freeing it would be for you if you could come into class all cranky and not your usual perky and bubbly self and present your material without having to worry that you have removed any judgment about that material from it.

Too Many Jims said...

If we really want to have more conservatives on university faculties, we need to pay professors more. Conservatives (on the whole) won't stand for being paid less than what they are worth (i.e., the sum of their intellect, hard work and pedigree) at the same rate that liberals will.

Fitz said...

"Hmmmm..... It is all politics, isn't it?"

It certainly is….

Is not Stanley Fish the advocate and pioneer of “reader response theory” , that our texts have trapped us, through the use of language, into a set of presuppositions about the world. That said “texts” must be deconstructed to reveal the implicit agenda of those writing them?

Did this not allow/aid in the politicization of every “text” and subject matter in the humanities and beyond.

MikeinSC said...

I would have to see some data on that. My impression from the schools (and departments) I went to and graduated from were that politics were not considered for promotion or tenure and that the heads of the departments probably were conservatives.

Data?

You mean besides every study indicating the liberal/conservative breakdown in college faculties?
-=Mike

LutherM said...

The Fish article is interesting, and details an incident at a University that caused the Bill to be written. One section of the proposed law would protect students. A female student refused to sign a letter supporting Gay Adoption, and the teacher attempted to penalize her. Academic performance and individual beliefs are independent variables. They have nothing to do with each other. Phrased differently, “Being a Christian shouldn’t make you a second-class citizen on a college campus.”
Professor Fish makes the point that what the faculty member was requiring of his class was public advocacy, and it doesn’t matter whether an individual student would have approved of the advocacy; advocacy is just not what should be going on in a university.
One portion of the bill provides that institutions of higher education would be required to report each year on their efforts “to ensure and promote intellectual diversity.”
The MAIN point Professor Fish wanted to make was that the proposed law would be monitoring political affiliations; which has nothing do with academic standards or the integrity of scholarship. I suppose that point logically follows from the clear words of the bill, and, if it does, it is both wrong and unconstitutional. So the bill should be amended, preserving the student rights section.
If discrimination in State Universities does exist against Conservatives being hired and achieving tenure, the legislature should be able to combat it with laws or the power of the purse. I have no idea how to draft the remedy.

Cedarford said...

Too Many Jims said...
If we really want to have more conservatives on university faculties, we need to pay professors more. Conservatives (on the whole) won't stand for being paid less than what they are worth (i.e., the sum of their intellect, hard work and pedigree) at the same rate that liberals will.


Respectfully, I think you have no clue about the several hundred thousand dollar worth contracts of salaries, perks, side business opportunities, money shared from publication deals elite colleges give these hard Left profs that would be scrambling to find a 75K a year job in the private sector. Or the "trailing spouse" getting a guaranteed high value job at the school, or the transfer of tenure/"come here and tenure is all but a given" offers. If they had a fair shot at it, plenty of moderates or conservatives would love the possibilities so much that they would struggle for years to get there.

The idea that conservatives are just so much smarter and more valuable in private sector jobs that they would not "stoop" to a half million a year package for them and a spouse with solid job security and massive side benefits is a crazy conceit...


Horowitz has said that present compensation levels are more than adequate to attract conservatives and moderates or "wrong race, gender, class" individuals. The real barrier is mandating they know when they start their studies - that hires into Critical Studies or slots in traditional Departments where the Hard Left in Charge which only selects from their own currently - will openly state they will change to open, fair hiring. Otherwise, it is crazy for a conservative black man to work towards a career in history or a white man to develop into a potential tenure track woman's studies expert - if hiring them is almost unthinkable And they know it, so they plan their careers in other fields so as to remove all but Hard Left candidates of the "correct ideology and correct life lessons experience" from such jobs.

hdhouse said...

Horowitz doesn't write his own stuff and in some cases admited that he hadn't even read it. Why are you or anyone giving that jerk print space.

More to the point....isn't he advocating AFFIRMATIVE ACTION based on politics rather than race or gender?

neocon hypocrites....ever consider that the reason the college faculty may be more liberal than conservative is in the definition of the word liberal and that they aren't dummies? Ever think that they might have looked at things and decided that the right wing in this country, is, by in large, moronic?

hdhouse said...

Kirby Olson said...
It's amazing what David Horowitz has achieved almost single-handedly in terms of forcing a conversation about the issues. He's like the man in Tianamen Square who stood up against the row of Maoist tanks."

Wrong. David Horowitz is like the shit on the street left by the passing elephants. He has as much resemblance to courage and idealism as a turd in the punch bowl.

Gahrie said...

Wrong. David Horowitz is like the shit on the street left by the passing elephants. He has as much resemblance to courage and idealism as a turd in the punch bowl.

Now really...who could possibly disaree with such a profund arguement with such delicately phrased positions?

Kirby Olson said...

I think Horowitz is a man who is profoundly moved by the murders of the Black Panthers whom he once supported. If you read his autobiography it is quite heart breaking to see how it slowly dawned on him that the left that he loved was a thug's paradise. And I think it slowly dawned on him that if he didn't stand up for Israel then no one else would. I find him to be a man with a big heart, and good sense, and tremendous bravery.

I myself studied with Burroughs and Ginsberg and only later came to the realization that they were deep in up to their neck in NAMBLA, etc. I knew this about Burroughs, but Ginsberg kept it hidden until he was dying and then he admitted it in his final poems. That's what they were both doing in Tangiers: destroying the lives of little children.

Personally I prefer a very boring Christian of any variety who keeps to the faith at least as a neighbor and who will do anything to protect children. A nice Jewish man like Horowitz or Podhoretz beats Genet or Ginsberg or Burroughs in my book any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

Academia nuts are still jumping up and down for Mao, even though they do it through early Kristeva, Barthes, or later Lacan. (Kristeva now says that De Gaulle was the greatest man of the 20th century, but most here are still waiting for the translation that will never come.) Most people in academia just don't know where those ideas have been or how Tel quel backed Mao in June 1971 and never reneged. There's no one to tell them. It's a closed shop. You can't get it into any journal. You can't say it in any conference. If someone were to try it they would get killed. Anyone who could is weeded out either in graduate school or in the tenure process. So Academia has come to look Marxist. There must be much less than one percent Marxists in the country at large, and yet they rule in academia. It is as if a bunch of communists have taken over the humanities and won't let anybody else in.

America is 80% Christian. In Academia there must be less than one percent Christians on the faculties of state colleges and universities in spite of the fact that they keep screaming that they want Academia to look like America. It looks less and less like America.

Nothing like it at all. There are a variety of sexes and races but they almost all think the same: Marxists and quasi-Marxists.

Just a few people of faith would leaven the lumpenproletariat nicely, but even that would terrify the left because they can't compete except in a total vacuum of ideas. I too would like academia to resemble America even if ever so slightly. At present it is more like Romania under Ceausescu, or the USSR under Stalin, or Cambodia under Pol Pot. It's a killing field for an intellectual monopoly.

But it seems that the whole country knows this, and it's only a matter of time before a political remedy is adopted. I imagine it will mean that the agit-prop departments will have their funding cut. I think it's too late to restore balance, and there's no way to cut a deal with Marxists. They will hold on to power until the last day, just like the Ceausescus. Or just likee Pol Pot -- who continued to believe until his dying day that he was a good man, who had served the People.

MikeinSC said...

neocon hypocrites....ever consider that the reason the college faculty may be more liberal than conservative is in the definition of the word liberal and that they aren't dummies? Ever think that they might have looked at things and decided that the right wing in this country, is, by in large, moronic?

Because somebody has never had the opportunity to participate in something means that they do not want to participate?

That'd be news to black students during the Civil Rights era. I mean, sure, they seldom went to elite schools --- but they probably just weren't qualified, right? It wasn't that they were FORBIDDEN from doing it, right?

Conservatives have been blacklisted from faculty for decades. The Free Speech Movement had few qualms about doing away with their championing of free speech the moment they became the ones in power.
-=Mike

hdhouse said...

Kirby Olsen says: "America is 80% Christian. In Academia there must be less than one percent Christians on the faculties of state colleges and universities in spite of the fact that they keep screaming that they want Academia to look like America. It looks less and less like America."

I was reading your stuff and trying to make sense of your thought process and up banged the above paragraph and you lost me again. As President Raygun would say, there you go again.

Horowitz spews hate and misinformation. Again: HE DOESN'T WRITE THE STUFF HE PUBLISHES AND HE DOESN'T - BY HIS OWN ADMISSION - EVEN READ SOME OF THE BIOGRAPHIES THAT HE INCLUDES IN HIS BOOKS. For that there can be NO INTELLECTUAL DEFENSE as he is merely a shill. Then you go and apply a Christianity PERCENTAGE litmus to faculty makeup...where in God's name did you get the 1% crap?

I have a degree from Valparaiso University - a stellar and liberal academic center of the highest merit..with standards my IVY ph.d. would be hard to approach and, dear sir, I would guarantee that the faculty is more than 1% Christian and they would say, generally, "what the hell???!!!" to your comments and "Oh My God" to your conclusions.

rightwingprof said...

"Fish helped create the whole PC and Critical Studies movement at Duke."

Yes, yes, and I have little use for Stanley Fish, but as I said earlier to be fair to Fish, this isn't a recent turnaround. He published an article in the Chronicle quite some time ago, reversing his position.

Am I really defending Stanley Fish? I need more coffee. Or something.

From Inwood said...

I'm coming late to this thread & so I would just add the following, an approximation of a quote I read somewhere:

"I'm weary of the charade of academia promoting pigmentation and chromosomal diversity in an intellectual monoculture."

From Inwood said...

Gahrie:

You nail it when you say that you

“take away the idea that [Prof A] scorns the hypocrisy of many Leftwing professors. But then, given the behavior of the Leftwing, [you] can understand why [another commentator] would think this was a conservative idea.”

Exactly. With the addendum, if you please, that most of those whom I would consider “leftwing” consider themselves “moderate” or “centrist” & thus know that everyone to their right must be “conservative” except real conservatives who must be “ultra conservatives” or “arch conservatives”.

Too Many Jims said...

Cedarford,

I am aware of the large compensation packages that are doled out to a very few professors.

You say that "If they had a fair shot at it, plenty of moderates or conservatives would love the possibilities so much that they would struggle for years to get there." I think this is a rationalization on the part of people who choose not to become academics. They are saying "I would have worked hard for years at lower pay than I deserve for the possibility that some day I would be compensated extremely well." Then they turn around and go to law school or B-school or start working or become entrepeneurs. They get paid handsomely and have a better possibility that they will someday will be compensated extremely well.

When I graduated from law school I went to see one of my college professors. It is a small liberal arts college, not Harvard or Yale or the like but also not a local community college. He was leaving the school after 20 years (he had been a professor elsewher for 8 years before that) in a salary dispute. He showed me the offer letter from the school he was going to and I was going to make significantly more than him as a first year associate.

Also when I began working at the law firm, my wife began her academic career. I started out making 150% of what she was making; within 5 years I was making 300% of what she was.

Freder Frederson said...

In Academia there must be less than one percent Christians on the faculties of state colleges and universities

Do you have any proof to back up this outlandish statements. I have been to three state universities for three different degrees and I guarantee you that a whole lot more than one percent of the the faculty at all of them were Christian.

I will grant you that on the whole faculties in liberal arts and even science departments tend to be more politically liberal than the country as a whole. But even that is not universally true. Just check out George Mason University. I went to Northern Illinois University as an undergrad. The History Department was decidedly leftist, even hardcore Marxist, but the Political Science Department was full of hardcore Kissinger Republicans. It made for great classes when the two departments team taught (a mini-cold war). In the sciences, politics rarely, if ever enter the discussion.

And when you get outside the liberal arts and into Business Schools and Economics, most state schools in this country are predominately conservative.

Jacques Albert said...

I think Kirby Olson well describes the hothouse "Platonic Marxist" environment in many university post-humanities departments. That David Horowitz's moderate programme of academic reform should meet with such histrionic opposition and even personal vituperation from the mouths of faculty "live high-talk low" Marxists merely proves how intolerant of debate these individuals are. "hdhouse"'s screeds, e.g., sound to me like hyperventilations in a closet.

From Inwood said...

Fred Fred

I agree that, if one is being literal, 1% is “outlandish” in describing “Christians” in colleges. Unless, that is we are in virtual Nietzsche territory (the last Christian died on the cross). Chalk it up to hyperbole.

Anyway, the larger question in this thread is Liberal vs Conservative, I believe. So when you say, as a trump card:

"when you get outside the liberal arts and into Business Schools and Economics...."

I want to coin a cliché, "except for that unfortunate incident, Mrs. Lincoln...."

And when you assert that once outside your guideline,

most state schools in this country are predominately conservative.

I want to reply, in your own words,

“Do you have any proof to back up this outlandish statements”?

But you have another fudge, another carve out, here: “state” schools. What next: “Most schools run by committed conservatives are, except possibly for the liberal arts area, predominantly conservative.”

Sorry, it's kinda hard to win arguments by using “False Analogy”. (FYI, I'm using the opposite of hyperbole, "meiosis" in my last sentence.)

From Inwood said...

Jaques Albert

Your problem seems to be that you are seeking intellectual diversity.

We loathe such people.

*****************

MikeinSC

When I see the hiring practices of many colleges, I’m reminded of the mot about clubs being formed to keep people out.

Freder Frederson said...

I agree that, if one is being literal, 1% is “outlandish” in describing “Christians” in colleges.

Well, claiming 1% is a lot more than hyperbole. As for "state" school restriction, that was the claim originally made by kirby olson that I was responding to, not me.

Now, are you claiming that we have a bunch of business, med, dental, law and other professional schools, engineering, agriculture and economics departments at state universities in this country that are dominated by leftists. That my contention that they are predominately conservative is outlandish? Well, I guess the proof is in the pudding. Are the business schools teaching that nationalization of industry is a good thing? That unions are a positive force in the economy? That globalization is bad? Where is all the talk in the economics department of the dialectic? I don't see the medical profession supporting socialized medicine. Certainly the leftwing medical schools would be indoctrinating students about its advantages.

From Inwood said...

Fred Fred

Silly me. When you said

"outside the liberal arts...most state schools in this country are predominately conservative",

I thought that you had said exactly that.

Please, I'm simply asking you to follow your own injunction against others & "prove" what you say. You simply declare that it's true. Oh, I forgot. The fact that B-schools don't teach “nationalization of industry” proves that they're a hotbed of conservatism.

And I don't recall anyone saying that teaching nationalism of industry in the History Dept or Eng Lit (poor old Sister Carrie & George Hurstwood) was the sole test for liberal arts schools as leftist.

So, rather than addressing the issue, you continue to gloss over the fact you have carved out exceptions & declare victory, Mrs. Lincoln: not to worry; no lefties in academia except in non-state schools & liberal arts. (I notice you didn't include the law schools in your non-liberal arts conservative list.)

Nor am I sure where you got the idea Prof. A, Mr. Horowitz, or any critic of the Academic Left was trying to prove that every professor, in every school, in every university in the country is a certified close-minded Leftist, but hey, that's what happens when in your zeal to control the issue, you don’t consider what was said in the thread you're commenting on but, rather, attack the position you wish had been said.

Anyway, using your method of argument, I guess that you admit that liberal arts schools in all colleges & universities, state & non-state are leftist and all schools in non state colleges & universities are leftist.

Bonus question, then: what does the traishon des clercs in Harvard in the Summers’ contretemps & the traishon des pot bangers in Duke re the lacrossers say to you about the disproportionate influence of the Liberal Arts faculties on University group think?

Kirby Olson said...

Two caveats -- I said "State" colleges and universities -- and I said "humanities" departments. Valparaiso therefore wouldn't qualify would it? It's a Missouri Synod Lutheran University -- at most Missouri Synod colleges you have to sign a statement of belief in order to teach, am I right? I know that that is true at at least Concordia in Texas -- or so I was told.

At the University of Washington where there were 80 members of the English department I can't think of a single church-goer. I assumed that that was the general case. I remember asking someone from Penn State English Department and he told me likewise there were no church-goers. Perhaps a Blakean might be as close as you might get to a Christian.

The Miltonists probably still read the Bible.

At any rate, the numbers are not proportionate, or anywhere near proportionate to representation in the schools I've been. Perhaps Horowitz could do another study, and write another book on this topic with the help of some of his ghost writers. I do think he takes responsibility for what's under his name as something that he thinks is more or less on the money.

Sundays are difficult for me to get to the computer...

Kirby Olson said...

There is a web page that purports to list "Christians in Academia" and there were 39 people world-wide who had signed up on it. Of those, one was in a Humanities department.

Perhaps there are more. Perhaps there is a registry, or a study that has been done somewhere. My evidence is anecdotal, and is limited to "state" universities and colleges, since that's where I've been.

I did once look through the English departments of the 42 ELCA (Eangelical Lutheran Church of America) colleges. I visited Muhlenberg College in Allentown and was told that of 108 profs, there were three practicing Lutherans. Were any of these in the humanities? Perhaps? At Wagner College on Staten Island, there were no Lutherans on the faculty, I was told by one librarian. Still the college does get money from the synod.

I assume that even there the situation is probably pretty much true throughout the ELCA college network. Roanoke College does have some practicing Lutherans in its theology department. I couldn't identify any however in the English department.

Perhaps of our 6000 colleges in this country there is some state college or university where the proportion of Christians in the actual population is matched by the proportion of professors. I find it hard to imagine, but anything is possible.

I think the list of 39 that I found here is probably more like it:

http://www.reap.asn.au/directory/?tx_gsifeuserlist_pi1%5Bpointer%5D=1

hdhouse said...

kirby...sundays are not only difficult for you to get to a computer they seem to be a difficult day in which to think.

You can't think of a single church goer? did you go to all the churches and see who showed up? is your definition of a christian one who goes to a church you observe? did you go around and ask all 80? what's the deal?

is your name really kirby or can we just rename you Ad Hominem

The partisan moderate said...

I agree wholeheartedly that professors should not use the classroom forum for advocacy. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident as teachers and fellow students discriminate against their conservative brethren in the hiring of teachers, mocking conservative viewpoints in class, and students complaining about teachers who do not hold liberal opinions on issues like affirmative action.

If universities want to hire solely on merit, fine. But right now universities seek to hire based on "diversity" and as such, diversity should extend to political minorities as well, who are greatly discriminated against in law school hiring and are more underrepresented than any minority group.

I go to a top five law school and at best maybe a couple of faculty members voted for President Bush and maybe 5-10% of students. In classes with non-anonymous grading, one has to be really careful about what views to express. There is not a single law review student on the law Republican listserv. Considering, the law review competition is based on part on subjective measures like a personal statement; there is cause to believe some discrimination is happening at least subconsciously. Furthermore, in can be really discouraging to listen to obnoxious comments made about the President by professors and students on pretty much a weekly basis.

If universities and graduate schools will not add ideological diversity as a goal, than they should get rid of all diversity goals. It is intellectually inconsistent to say you want a class that reflects America but where everyone agrees with each other repeatedly on all political matters.

BTW, I was in the business school as an undergrad and while political discussions were less prevalent, most professors were not conversative. Most economics faculty are also considerably more liberal than the country as whole just not as bad as some other majors.

Kirby Olson said...

I'm with the Partisan Moderate. I didn't realize that things were so bad in law departments, too.

Literature departments are where I've been. There's quite a bit of pressure to adopt the party line which is almost uniformly Marxist: forming a kind of gauntlet.

That's the pipeline, and has been for at least 20 years. I expect the pipeline to narrow and intensify in terms of its wish to silence anyone coming through who isn't strictly party line.

My concern is that Marxism has never been particularly good to writers: much more concern has been spent with killing or silencing them in communist countries than in nurturing them. In Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge they went all the way of course: slaughtering every literature person, but some version of that hatred toward individual visions has always been the norm in communist countries. You are not permitted to have a personal vision. You must illustrate the party line. This has made for fairly boring literature.

That this less than 1% who call themselves Marxists has taken over American English departments is quite unpromising for the future of literature. Most of our great writers have had at least one foot in Christianity -- Shakespeare clearly a Catholic with a great deal of affection for Lutheran Hamlet; Emily Dickinson; Marianne Moore going twice a week. The great writers of the 17th century: Herbert, etc. They can't be understood outside of the Christian context that nourished them. But very few if any scholars are being prepared to study them, or to keep them alive from within their original context. The gauntlet won't allow it. In terms of Marianne Moore -- there are some 20 or 30 books now on her 100 poems that she kept -- and out of all that and the thousand or so articles there are two or three articles that look at her work from within the Presbyterian context in which she spent her whole life. Her work is often strait-jacketed and tortured into speaking for the far left when she herself was a Republican who wore a Nixon button and was for the war in Vietnam.

That 80% of the taxpayers and the writers they have nourished should be silenced by a very vocal 1% or less seems unjust, but I suppose to those who believe that they are justice personified nothing that they can ever do will ever seem unjust.

Again, I am only responding to the problem within English departments (Stanley Fish is a law professor but has also been the head of an English department so this would seem to be his concern as well).

(In terms of business departments or other departments -- well, does it make sense to have a Marxist businessman? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Does't Marxism mean in every case the collapse of the economy due to a lack of individual initiative?)

Perhaps again the Marxists think that they do nurture writers, I wouldn't know. But if you look at the facts even outside Cambodia they are still not impressive. Of course, Mao thought he was a poet. Stalin, too. And Mrs. Ceausescu thought of herself as a profound member of the literati as well as one of the greatest scientists that Romania had ever produced.

But against these megalomaniacs who are only canonical in their own minds, the handful of writers from communist countries who are more or less canonical in the west seem to be almost entirely against communism: Solzhenitsyn, Kundera, are two of the few who managed to survive their incarceration and still publish books.

I salute them.

But if I were a writer -- I'd much rather have an entirely different and more democratic system to work within. Therefore, I'm with Horowitz. Almost anything would be better than the current deadly gauntlet for those interested in literature as literature, as opposed to agit-prop for Marxism.

Kirby Olson said...

One more thing -- whatever your name is -- I don't know what you mean by ad hominem. Do you? Could you give some examples of where I use an ad hominem argument? This means to attack a person instead of the idea that they represent, bringing up issues about a person where they are irrelevant to the idea at hand. Even Camille Paglia and Michael Berube (far left professors) would agree that almost everyone in humanities departments are on the left. They just happen to think that's groovy. It's just a fact.

If there was such a thing as a religious person at the UW English department don't you think I'd have known?

I did work with brilliant communists while there and learned their language. I'm not entirely unhappy with that.

But it would have been nice to have worked with one Christian. I think I'd have gotten a lot farther into what it is that I wanted to study. But that choice didn't exist. The gauntlet -- or what Fish used to call the Guild -- didn't permit it.

From Inwood said...

Partisan Moderate

You give fascinating, compelling evidence in contrast to the few on this thread who would try to soften the impact of Horowitz & others, the testimony of youth, when you note that

“[you were] in the business school as an undergrad and while political discussions were less prevalent, most professors were not conservative. Most economics faculty are also considerably more liberal than the country as whole just not as bad as some other majors.”

That reminds me the old joke about the funeral where there’s silence when it comes time to say a nice thing about the rotten deceased until Abie says “his brother was worse.”

That's the best evidence that opponents of Horowitz can come up with: it’s not so bad once you leave the liberal arts (what law school? Nevermind!); the cancer is only in the liberal arts. And, they’d have it, even in the liberal arts, the Economics fellows are not as bad either. What, Paul Krugman? Shhhh. And, stop Toto; forget the cowering administrations or overseers behind those curtain at Harvard & Duke; don’t you understand that the liberal arts faculty pot bangers do not have a disproportionate influence on the rest of the faculties, the administrations, or the overseers? And, since B-schools in state universities don’t teach nationalization of businesses, stop that barking; there’s no problem.

*************
Kirby

Altho we are concerned here with Conservative rather than Christian, I was impressed by your excellent presentation of the Christian position.

mikeyes said...

I can't get into the Times link, but from what Ann says, isn't Prof Fish advocating that teachers teach critical thinking?

Politics in the class room will always be a problem, especially if mimicking those politics is required to get a good grade. Maybe they should take a leaf from the Jesuits.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the "Ratio Studiorum", it is a philosophy that has been described as:

"This training or formation of the mind means the gradual and harmonious development of the various powers or faculties of the soul–of memory, imagination, intellect, and will; it is what we now call a general and liberal education."

As any Jesuit graduate will tell you, it teaches you a way of thinking and not what to think. While there are plenty of critics of the system, at least it is a system of teaching critical thinking. And if you want to argue that it only produces (you pick "conservative" or "liberal") graduates, remember that among the Nobel prize winnners, presidents of countries, humanitarians, scientists, teachers, doctors, preacher, etc that are products of this idea are the following: Voltaire, Saddam Hussein, Castro, and Bill Clinton.

Perhaps teachers need to keep in mind that learning to think critically is the goal of students and that converting people to your truth does nothing to achieve that.

Fitz said...

I posted this upthread & di not recieve any direct reponse.

"Is not Stanley Fish the advocate and pioneer of “reader response theory” , that our texts have trapped us, through the use of language, into a set of presuppositions about the world. That said “texts” must be deconstructed to reveal the implicit agenda of those writing them?

Did this not allow/aid in the politicization of every “text” and subject matter in the humanities and beyond.

Can anyone tell me if I am correct, (i.e. -do you know? If not "do my research for me")

Stanley Fish (to my knowledge) is/was a poponent of the enite Critical Studies field..a mere pre-text (in my opinion) for Marxism.

Kirby Olson said...

Fitz -- the Wikipedia article isn't bad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Fish

Someone once said that pinning down Fish is like trying to nail a pudding to the wall.

I think he's changing his positions, possibly for some of the reasons that Ann intimates in the original post.

He was raised in the Jewish faith in Rhode Island. I don't think he still attends a synagogue.

He is in fact or was an advocate of a kind of reader response theory. He developed the idea of interpretive communities.

But the Wikipedia article is quite good as a starter.

Kirby Olson said...

One more comment if I may, even if everyone else has already moved on. I do think that to some extent Fish is right: but only for Fish. That is, Fish is so brilliant that I could listen to him for hours no matter what he was talking about. He is precise, ingenious, makes very sharp hairpin turns in issues, and he comes up with elegant ideas. He reminds me somewhat of what the Athenian sophists such as Gorgias must have been like.

The problem is that many of his colleagues are not as bright, and the next generation is in many cases actually dumb. A dumb Marxist who is also an opportunist (doesn't really believe in sharing, but is a Marxist because that's the gravy train just now) can be really oppressive. In graduate school the trick is to find the handfull of operative brains, and to ignore their orientation. You can always learn from smart people.

And if someone is terrific mentally, it almost doesn't matter what their orientation is. I'd rather study with a brilliant communist than a mediocre Lutheran, even though I'm Lutheran.

A little bit of intellectual competition, on the other hand, might sharpen everybody up, so that competing ideologies can be like pencil sharpeners for one another. I think that faculties ought to hire the brightest people they can rather than people only of one persuasion or another. Bright people in the long run are what's needed. Not yes-men and women of the Marxist camp necessarily. Just the brightest person who applies.