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August 20, 2003

CONSERVATIVES IN THE ACADEMY....I happened onto a new blog today run by the pseudonymous John Lemon, "a conservative academic working at a major university west of the Mississippi." Why the pseudonym? He explains here:

Although I am tenured, well-published and an outstanding teacher, I still choose life in a closet as I have more goals that I wish to accomplish in the academy.

Still not clear? Here's why:

I was once warned that no Republican would ever get tenure in this department -- I assume that can be generalized to all sorts of other unpleasantries.

I have heard this kind of thing vaguely before, and I'd like to know if it's true. Note that I'm not interested in whether certain corners of the academy are predominantly liberal. I'm sure they are, but you could say the same thing in the opposite direction about, say, the upper ranks of the military or the executive suites of Fortune 500 companies. What I'm interested in is whether it's really true that there are cases of conservatives/Republicans who have been denied tenure solely because they are conservatives/Republicans.

As contrary evidence, I note that John Lemon himself "slipped under the radar," and I also note that my own blogroll has several conservative/libertarian academics, including Sjostrom, Drezner, Reynolds, and the entire Volokh crew. All of them seem to be doing fine.

Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything of course, but I'm not sure how to go about finding out if there's any systematic evidence to back up this contention. If there is, it's disgraceful and it should stop, but if there's not, then conservative academics should stop retelling urban legends about how they are victimized by their radical leftist peers.

Any ideas out there from the legions of academe who read this blog?

Posted by Kevin Drum at August 20, 2003 03:45 PM | TrackBack


Comments

I detect either a persecution complex or a lame excuse here. But I'm not one of the legionnaires of academe, so what do I know?

Posted by: David W. at August 20, 2003 03:51 PM | PERMALINK

I have seen this claimed by those who believe there's a liberal academic elite that controls academe. Certainly in the field of history, there are conservative tenured professors; in fact they run the ideological gamut.

I too would be interested in some clear evidence.

Posted by: Jane Finch at August 20, 2003 03:53 PM | PERMALINK

Having an opinion in my field leads to unemployment. That's why I don't risk using my real name...

Posted by: squiddy at August 20, 2003 03:59 PM | PERMALINK

What *is* your field, squiddy?

Posted by: Kevin Drum at August 20, 2003 04:03 PM | PERMALINK

Whiners of the Right, Part Google.

That's what that was, Kevin.

Ask these right-wingers how many pro-labor or Keynseian econmist graduate students there are. That will tell us alot.

Also, look at the David Brock story about how he saw early on at college that the way to wealth, partying, and some fame was with the right wing, not the left.

Not saying that this is absolutely true, but that when you add in these factors, the whine from the right wingers becomes fairly clear.

Posted by: mitchell freedman at August 20, 2003 04:13 PM | PERMALINK

I would think that being conservative might be helpful in some ways. One gets the impression that very few conservatives or libertarians enter the professoriat, so it might be significantly easier to stand out if you were on the right.

On the other hand, you can see how it would be a relatively unpleasant social experience to be constantly surrounded with people who overwhelmingly disagree with your political beliefs.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias at August 20, 2003 04:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's fairly clear that being a Republican is no obstacle to a career as a law professor like Reynolds or Volokh. I doubt anyone cares much in fields like engineering, or mathematics, or biology. Maybe there are some fields (Sociology? Black Studies?) where the prevailing culture is such that being a Republican is a disadvantage, but I'll believe that when somebody shows me some concrete examples.

I have not seen this blog before. After looking at a number of his posts, it just doesn't seem to me like he has very much novel or interesting to say, quite apart from any matter of ideology. If he weren't so concerned about not blowing his cover, he might be a better blogger--imagine Volokh if he didn't want to post about legal issues, or DeLong if he didn't want to talk about economics!

Posted by: rea at August 20, 2003 04:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Matt that in some ways standing out as a conservative may be an advantage. In academia, like in many other things, it's good to be noticed, and being really conservative is a way of being noticed. I imagine any conservative who frequently tried to win converts to his/her cause wouldn't get invited to too many academic dinner parties, but the same could be said for most other partisans.

There was one case that might have looked like it backed up Lemon's thesis that being openly conservative is a career hazard, the KC Johnson tenure case at Brooklyn College. (See here for a not entirely unbiased summary of the history of the case.) On the other hand, since Johnson managed to come out of his tenure case with a promotion to full professor (wish I could pull off that stunt), and most liberal academics who heard about the case were appalled by it, it's not really the best case for a widespread bias against conservatives.

Posted by: Brian Weatherson at August 20, 2003 04:33 PM | PERMALINK

I teach at a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. The majority of the faculty are liberal, but there is a significant conservative minority, and I can confidently say that no one in my time (13 years) has been denied tenure or promotion for political views of any stripe. I asked some older faculty members, and they say the same, going back at least 40 years. Doesn't mean it hasn't happened elsewhere, though.

Posted by: englishprofessor at August 20, 2003 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's absolutely true that conservatives are persecuted at universities. Just ask David Horowitz. He sued UC Berkeley when Michael Savage was denied the post of dean of the journalism school based solely on his conservatism. The fact that he was not a journalist, had never practiced journalism or taught the subject, or as far as I know ever even taken a journalism class was just the phoney excuse UC used to smear him.

- Philip

Posted by: Philip at August 20, 2003 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

I smell a rat. He uses a pseud because people in his department don't get tenure if they're "Republicans," yet he's already got tenure. What's to lose? More here

Posted by: Emma at August 20, 2003 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that denying a professor tenure based on political affiliation would lead to an immediate lawsuit--that the school would lose. The whole thing's bogus...

Posted by: Emma at August 20, 2003 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

"The fact that he was not a journalist, had never practiced journalism or taught the subject, or as far as I know ever even taken a journalism class was just the phoney excuse UC used to smear him."

Well, there you go. That's how low the California educational system has sunk since Prop 13. Grins...couldn't they have thought up better reasons?

Posted by: Linkmeister at August 20, 2003 04:50 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Emma. If he has tenure, he has nothing to lose. If it's a science or technology oriented field, no one would care what his politics are; if it's a social science or humanities field, it's probably already well-known.

Posted by: halle at August 20, 2003 04:51 PM | PERMALINK

"I smell a rat."
Emma may have a point. Look at this, for example:

http://johnlemon.blogspot.com/2003_08_17_johnlemon_archive.html#106118434983787666

Does he really have Bush bumper stickers secured to his SUV by magnets, so he can take them off while he's on campus, and put them back on while he goes to the gym?

Posted by: rea at August 20, 2003 04:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Check out the case of highly regarded historian KC Johnson. Ok, Johnson doesn't exactly fit the theme here because he is not a conservative Republican but he fell afoul of the same race/gender/PC lunacy that afflicts the liberal arts in academia that regularly trips up conservatives on campus.

http://hnn.us/articles/1115.html

Posted by: mark safranski at August 20, 2003 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

Some ideologies deserve persecution. If the guy were a Nazi, any "I was wrongfully denied tenure" lawsuits would probably wither on the vine. So the question is whether, say, Republicanism is sufficiently vile to merit discrimination, or whether it's just harmless political fun.

I happen to believe that Republicans don't deserve tenure, but I've never been on a departmental committee.

Posted by: Matt Davis at August 20, 2003 04:57 PM | PERMALINK

I thought further about this, and see Emma has covered my questions. Further, how does said tenured anonymous professor account for the likes of Mike Adams, Thomas Sowell and Philippe Rushton, to name a few?

Posted by: Jane Finch at August 20, 2003 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

There's also the story of James Miller, a conservative Smith College prof who claims a "tenure bias" (my phrase, not his) because of his political beliefs.

Posted by: edub at August 20, 2003 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

After 42 years in the academy (mostly at flagship universities) and as the son of a professor, I know of no case where a faculty member was not granted tenure because of his or her politics. During my career, I was 7 years each a department chair and a dean and I know that faculty were in fact tenured notwithstanding the fact that their politics were out of step with the majority of their colleagues, both liberal and conservative.
My guess is that if someone is too far right or left for his (prospective) colleagues, that person would never be recommended for hire after the on-campus interviews.

Posted by: P. Clodius at August 20, 2003 05:00 PM | PERMALINK

The history field as a profession is tilted heavily to the Left in politics and while labor history is not what it was twenty years ago, it's hardly unrepresented in university departments. Race/gender/orientation/ethnicity focused social history is predominant while diplomatic and economic history positions are basically facing the budgetary axe.

Perusing the major history journal article titles or surfing H-netwill give you a good indication of where the profession is these days.

Posted by: mark safranski at August 20, 2003 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

I have been a college teacher for over 30 years (11 years at a community college and more than 20 years at a major research university). In addition to teaching I served as a department chairperson for eight years and regularly attended national conferences in my field for most of my career. It's been my experience that nearly all the paranoid talk about discrimination based on issues such as political beliefs is simply not true. I'm not saying that discrimination doesn't happen. I'm just saying that laying the blame on politics or unpopular stances is a smoke and mirrors tactic similar to playing the race card. Something else is inevitably at play.

Tenure (the right to be a jerk and keep your job) is sacred in academia. As a result almost every department at every public college/university (and most reputable private ones) has at least one "terminably disgruntled" faculty member who makes life miserable for everybody else. Local unions, the AAUP, and countless faculty committees wouldn't have it any other way. And I agree with them.

A huge debate in academia right now is a general attack on tenure as an institution. Even that attack is not so much an effort to squelch unpopular opinions. It's more of a strategy by cash strapped universities to get around the job-for-life financial constraints that tenure imposes on them.

Having said all this I can still imagine that a single faculty member in a single department could still have a lot of grief. Isn't that the way it is everywhere? Obviously faculty members at small religious schools have the potential for running into even more grief.

Posted by: Georg Heimdal at August 20, 2003 05:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an astronomy professor. In the sciences, politics is a non-factor in tenure decisions. In all of the departments that I've spent substantial time in, the faculty has spanned the political spectrum. On average physics/astronomy types are probably to the left, but the range is wide and political issues are really tangential to our work. There are other areas (e.g. economics, business, chemistry, engineering) where the predominant culture would be moderate to conservative.

Personality issues do play a role in faculty hires; you're going to be reluctant to be stuck with an abrasive jerk unless they're very talented. (Maybe not even then!) But I've never seen anyones politics even mentioned in an off-the-record conversation about hiring or tenure.

There certainly are some departments prone to bickering, and there are clearly some where ideology plays a role in hiring/promotion. There
are also some businesses where there happens...

which proves what, precisely?

cheers,

Marc

Posted by: Marc at August 20, 2003 05:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm posting this anonymously because I don't want to draw excessive attention to this situation at my local school, it's ancient history. So here goes.

Tenure is not inviolable, and bias cuts both ways. I know one local professor who was tenured. She taught Black Studies and was quite a radical. Then she got into a conflict with one of her students, a white, middle aged woman. She told the student from day 1 that she would never get an a passing grade in her class because white students were incapable of understanding her curriculum. The student persevered and did good work, but got an F. She took her work to the Dean, who regraded the work as an A and passed her for the class. I don't know exactly how it happened, but she was kicked out of the university despite her tenure.

Posted by: Anon at August 20, 2003 05:27 PM | PERMALINK

I know from personal experience that political "discrimination" isn't confined to liberal academia. I just retired after 35 years working for a major military R&D laboratory. It was assumed that everyone there was politically conservative and Republican - except for a few radical libertarians.

The political atmosphere was blatant. Meetings frequently started with anti-Democrat jokes, or sometimes simply insulting comments directed at "liberals". During election periods the e-mail traffic was filled with overt pro-Republican and anti-Democrat comments in spite of a rule prohibiting political activity in the workplace.

I felt that I had to keep my progressive leanings to myself to protect my career. Even now I don't feel free to openly criticize the political atmosphere at my former employer. The politics of the R&E lab has permeated the local community where I still live. I don't want a brick through my window.

As I read over the above it sounds a bit overblown. It isn't. The DoD officer corps and civilian leadership is well know to be predominantly conservative and Republican. This is ok as long as a bright line of separation exists between official duties and personal political opinion. In my experience, the line is getting very dim.

Aaron A.

Posted by: Aaron Aardvark at August 20, 2003 05:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

The American Enterprise Institute survey (Sept. 2002) cited below provides an ugly picture of the lack of political diversity in the Academy.

Of course, there can be no certainty that it is a result of bias on the part of those responsible for hiring. But the only other explanations are 1)that conservatives are inherently failures as academics (doubtful) or 2) that conservatives are uninterested in pursuing academia as a career (plausible). Anyway, decide for yourself.

http://www.taemag.com/doclib/20030716_018kzandgraphs.pdf

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 05:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, the above link is the charts. This one is the intro, and from here one can move into the charts by following the directions at the bottom of the page.

http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleid.17443/article_detail.asp

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 05:49 PM | PERMALINK

AEI doesn't have any particular agenda, does it, spc67?

Posted by: Linkmeister at August 20, 2003 05:50 PM | PERMALINK

actually, it used to be 100% true that you didn't get tenure if you weren't in the right party at the right time and knew someone to get the patronage.. in Austria.

anyone who thinks there is a real, effective anti-conservative bias in any academic or business field in the same way that there are measurable biases against fat, short, unattractive, older, more female, or nonwhite people needs to produce the studies. I've seen the measurements for the rest, and they're diusturbing; I'm ready to be equally depressed about academia. peer-reviewed with a believable metric, please.

Posted by: wcw at August 20, 2003 05:55 PM | PERMALINK

AEI doesn't have any particular agenda, does it, spc67?

Of course it does, as does the NYT, and Foxnews, and the Guardian etc. So what? Check the data and the methodology, then quarrel if you disagree. I at least read the Times before I bitch.

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 06:02 PM | PERMALINK

Both Senator Phil Gramm (Texas A&M) and Dick Armey (North Texas State University) left their teaching positions and got into politics because they felt they could not succeed as conservatives in the respective Economics Departments.

Of course, Phil Gramm had a really poor publication record and both had a hard time getting along with the others in the department because of their attitudes, so I think it was a personality problem in each case that led them to take libertarian/conservitive positions in the first place and then to have difficutlies getting along with others in the second. It was common knowledge in each University that the respective departments were delighted to see them go. At A&M they were saddened to lose Wendy Gramm, however, who is at least as conservative as Phil.

Both had tenure, and Armey was Chairman of the Economics Department. I believe that Wendy Gramm also had tenure in the Economics Department of A&M, but I can't swear to that.

Other than that, I find that in the School of Business being a conservative is certainly no handicap. I haven't run into many liberals or Democrats. But I am in Texas.

Posted by: Rick B at August 20, 2003 06:02 PM | PERMALINK

Linkmeister,

BTW, (I think you're in HI right?)I'll be moving to your sunny shores, different island in a few weeks.

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 06:05 PM | PERMALINK

spc67: I read that when it came out. What it shows is that faculties in certain areas are very heavily liberal, which I have no trouble believing. Frankly, though, my guess is that not very many conservatives get PhDs in women's studies or black studies, so I'm not sure it means anything.

I'm with wcw: I'd like to see some real evidence of discrimination. If it's genuinely a problem, then someone ought to be willing to study it and try to put a stop to it.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at August 20, 2003 06:10 PM | PERMALINK

spc67, is that right? Moving as in not just visiting, but permanent (well...) relocation? Welcome!

Local blogging scene, if you're interested.

Posted by: Linkmeister at August 20, 2003 06:13 PM | PERMALINK

As a college student, I'll testify to all manner of weirdness going on on the campus. The getting-denied/losing tenure or professional standing or whatever for being a "conservative" I suppose I could see something like this happening at some squirrely JC or maybe one of the CSU campuses or something. But this double life story? He reads like Penthouse forum, fer chrissake. C'mon, this dude is a crank.


"He looked like your typical aging campus radical from the psychedellic era who had probably attend a few too many Grateful Dead concerts and smoked a few too many banana peels (for you other "Deadheads" ...and you know who you are)...I took his flyer and immediately crumpled it in his face."

*whistles*

Posted by: spacetoast at August 20, 2003 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

It would be very difficult to prove tenure was denied because you were a conservative. It would be kind of like proving you were fired (or not hired) because you were a black or a woman -- very difficult. The idea of conservative diversity among professors is important and worth discussing.

However, I do have a few reservations about how the issue is framed (and these reservations have been hinted at above). For example, one of the loudest voices leading the fight for more conservative voices on university faculties is David Horowitz, and he is, quite frankly, insane. Just this week, he wrote a post on his website titled, "The left's continuing rape of the universities." That rhetoric is typical of him. And since Horowitz denies the idea of institutional racism (he typically -- and repeatedly -- points to Oprah as evidence there's no such thing) and says minorities have access to the courts if they have a legitimate case, one is inclined to tell him that conservatives academics can also go to court and that he can shut the hell up. But Horowitz isn't the only one concerned about this issue, so he shouldn't end the discussion.

Unfortunately, this "John Lemon" is barely much better. He has tenure. By his own admission he's a coward. Plus, he publicly speaks at GOP events and sees students there, so I hardly think his conservatism is a secret among his colleagues. I find his credibility wanting. Does anyone really think he gets "constantly screamed at" by his colleagues for his political views? I sense a victim complex in him that conservatives usually see in racial and ethnic minorities.

While Mark Safranski is undoubtedly correct about the overwhelming PC nature of the two major historical journals, I don't think that is evidence of the lefty or liberal bias of the entire history field and of history faculty at schools across the country. I really don't. Plus, I rarely see conservatives wringing their hands about all the business majors, accountants and economists flooding higher education to learn a trade rather than gain a liberal education ("liberal" in the classical sense). I can't help but think conservatives are trying to "work the refs" just like they've so successfully done with the media.

Despite all of these numerous asides on my part, I do think diversity of thought on campuses matters even more than diversity of culture or skin color and that in the liberal arts, in general, being a conservative could only hurt, and not help, your career advancement. I'm personally aware of history prof with several publications in the midwest who might've been denied tenure based on his conservative politics. And my sources for this were two liberal profs who emphatically disagreed with the guys politics, but thought he shouldn't have been denied tenure. So I'm sympathetic to the conservatives -- I just don't think this "John Lemon" is the posterboy for it, that's all. And I don't think it's as widespread as people allege (except maybe in English, Sociology, Women's Studies, and African American Studies departments).

Posted by: Jim E. at August 20, 2003 06:16 PM | PERMALINK

Linkmeister,

As in the girlfriend, the dogs, bought the house, the whole deal. Thanks for the blogging link, and the welcome!

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Matt Davis (way above) that Republicans shouldn't be granted tenure. It's a matter of character. How can you trust someone who openly chooses to associate him or herself with the GOP's record of the last 20 years? Being a conservative is a whole 'nother thing. Nothing wrong with that, should'nt be discriminated against.

As for "John Lemon" everyone seems to think the goals he has in mind have something to do with his profession. I think he's just trying to get a date. I say to John, Good Luck.

Posted by: dennisS. at August 20, 2003 06:18 PM | PERMALINK

The claim is just plain wrong. I'm in one of those science departments, and I can say that politics is never a consideration in tenure decisions -- it's pure paranoia to worry that being a member of the Republican party would be a strike against you.

However, it is true that the dominant political voice in all of the departments I've been in has been strongly liberal. None of them were friendly environments for conservatives, and I can sort of sympathize with how someone with a distinctly minority opinion might feel some concern about it.

Posted by: PZ Myers at August 20, 2003 06:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, come on spc67 -- this report has been brought up before, and the obvious problems with it have been brought up as well.

First off the coding. As anyone who has ever walked a precinct knows you have more than just left and right parties, you also have independent or "decline to state" (DTS) voters. In many places DTS voters track with education -- in other words, the more highly educated the voter, the more likely they are to DTS. (This only works some places -- for example it is not universal in CA). Also, what about the significant number of professors that are either unregistered or ineligible. This is a first year research methods issue -- the coding is a mess.

The other is the curiously flexible choice of departments. For example, the Engineering faculty is listed for Brown, but not for Stanford or Berkeley (or just about anyone else). Did AEI think that these schols did not have Engineering schools (yeah, right) or was it that Brown had the only liberal leaning Engineering department in their sample. Also, with the exception of Brown's Engineering school, there is not one hard science department cited in the entire study while they managed to include Women's Studies and Political Science almost everywhere. Also, no Business or Law school faculties are listed. The nifty design looks nice with lots of graphs, but a simple crossreference table (standard in this kind of study) would immediately show the odd pattern of departments.

If you want to make a point about academia, it would behoove AEI to consider meeting some of the basic methodogical standards of academia. Until then, this is simply trash, with graphs.

Posted by: Claude Muncey at August 20, 2003 06:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with wcw: I'd like to see some real evidence of discrimination.

I'm not sure what you are looking for. When I was in the corporate world, the EEOC came armed with the presumption that a straight statistical anlysis was enough to "prove" discrimination. We'd be told "Hire black traders." We'd respond "We're growing them from within." We'd then be told, "hire senior black traders," we'd respond "find us some and we will!" They couldn't and fined us anyway. (Terminology and situation from late 1980's)

Pretty tough to get academics to admit to bias in hiring. So other than the stats like AEI shows, I don't know by what mechanism one could "prove" this...ever.

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 06:23 PM | PERMALINK

On a related subject, Ralph E. Luker has an interesting blog on the History News Network and I'm under the impression he had an ugly denial of tenure spat decades ago because he was a conservative. Does anyone know what the backstory is on him? Compared to the GOP of Bush, DeLay and Santorum, Luker seems quite moderate to me. I'd just like to know what happened to him -- I like his blog.

Posted by: Jim E. at August 20, 2003 06:28 PM | PERMALINK

Whoops, what spelling -- and with preview no less.

Posted by: Claude Muncey at August 20, 2003 06:28 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Safranski:
I think you yourself make clear that the K.C. Johnson case does not fit the "persecution of Republicans" claim. Johnson appears to be good researcher, a productive writer, and an excellent teacher. On the other hand, he's not a conservative and he got a lot of support from both the left and the right in his case.

As for the notion that
The history field as a profession is tilted heavily to the Left in politics and... Race/gender/orientation/ethnicity focused social history is predominant while diplomatic and economic history positions are basically facing the budgetary axe"
I'm afraid you're a bit behind the curve here. As a social historian, I'm sad to report that the most influential subfield is cultural history. In fact, that's where a lot of the focus you're describing actually lies. Diplomatic history positions are indeed dwindling, but that's largely because undergraduate students shun those classes, and grad students find relatively little interesting work being done in the field.

As far as I can tell, the economic history positions are safe. It's not a trendy field, but it's well-respected and gets some talented grad students.

In my experience historians who are pursuing obviously conservative topics might face greater skepticism and have to work harder to convince their prospective employers that their work is interesting and valid. But if they can meet that task, the questions go away. I can't think of any cases where someone's personal politics has strongly affected a tenure decision.

Since Mark cited the history news network I might add that one of my friends, a libertarian with a solidly conservative research agenda, runs the hnn "Liberty and Power" group blog. I don't doubt that he's had uncomfortable social interactions with some of his liberal colleagues, but that hasn't affected his professional career.

spc67:
The argument here isn't about bias in hiring (for which you'd have to show that conservative candidates were hired at lower rate, not just that fewer conservatives were hired). The argument is whether being a conservative will, in and of itself, get you denied tenure. Frankly, I doubt it.

Posted by: Keith at August 20, 2003 06:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: I doubt there are 10 registered Republicans teaching in the liberal arts or social sciences at the UC campus where I went to school. The political climate of that school has always been tilted so far one way that I can imagine anyone teaching there with a conservative viewpoint feeling intimidated.

As for Lemon himself, previous commenters wonder why he is still "in the closet" if he has tenure. After getting tenure, he undoubtedly became an associate professor, the next step on the ladder. Becoming a full professor is the final step, but it is not automatic and subject to peer review.

I know of one person (not a conservtive) who is still an associate professor after 25 years of tenure. This is very unusual. Whether that is because of a rumored sexual harassment scandal 20 years ago or because he hasn't published enough is open to interpretation.

Is discrimination based on political beliefs widespread or intentional? I have no idea. Does it happen? I think it does.

Posted by: Internet Ronin at August 20, 2003 06:34 PM | PERMALINK

The argument here isn't about bias in hirin
(for which you'd have to show that conservative candidates were hired at lower rate, not just that fewer conservatives were hired).

There is a very strong analogy there it seems to me


The argument is whether being a conservative will, in and of itself, get you denied tenure. Frankly, I doubt it.

I have no idea. My own anecdotal experience at Swarthmore (undergrad), St. Joe's, Villanova and Penn (grad courses, and for fun), over the past 20 years is that the dramatic underrepresentation of conservatives in humanities faculties come from somewhere. I suspect, but cannot and will never be able to, prove the kind of bias Kevin is describing. Nor can anyone prove another cause IMHO.

Posted by: spc67 at August 20, 2003 06:38 PM | PERMALINK

The underrepresentation of conservatives in the humanities could simply be that fewer conservatives choose to go into academia. To take an extreme and ludicrous example, why would Rush Limbaugh be interested in devoting his life to Women's Studies or Sociology? He wouldn't. There's obviously quite a bit of self-selection going on that has nothing to do with discrimination.

The granting or denial of tenure based on politics, however, is a different issue, and one that would be difficult to prove. I remain unpersuaded that conservatives avoid academia because they face a hostile work environment. Yet I do think diversity of thought is essential, esp. in higher education, and that we all should want more conservative voices and conservative scholars. (The best teachers, of course, should be able to present such diversity to their students, no matter what their own preferences are.)

Posted by: Jim E. at August 20, 2003 06:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's BS. And it's BS you see written by people with tenure, books, promotions, etc. That sorta tells you it's BS.

Posted by: QrazyQat at August 20, 2003 06:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well, about the article, the sample size is rather small for a LOT of departments. They are missing a rather large portion of profs.

As for the bias by department, most sociology departments I've heard of are fairly far left. However, economics, business, and law are fairly far right. Politics/foreign affairs types are generally fairly far to the right ("Clash of Civilizations" and all that) but sometimes have a liberal voice or two. History I have found to be a mixture. Hard sciences, as has been stated many times, it doesn't matter as much.

But, let's take MIT as an example. Operation Phoenix was an MIT idea, and we all know how much "liberals" supported that. Let's take the Chicago school of economics. We all know how much liberals love the whole "WTO/IMF is your friend, you nice little south american experiments" philosophy. And so on.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2003 06:57 PM | PERMALINK

Man, I looked at his current blog entries and there may be more to this that you started with; bowel movements? There must have been a point to it, but I am not sure. check it out. I guess, Kevin, you just wondered about anti conservative bias in tenuring, but your man here goes deeper than that.

By the way I have taught in a community college for 35 years in TX and political attitude has little to do with getting tenure. In the early days-- late 1960's Baptists and retired military got preferential hiring, but women got less money. All of those things are things of the past.

Getting past the TP (toilet paper) in your guy's blog was almost as much as I could handle on the tenure roll(track).

thelrd in TEXAS

Posted by: Larry Davis at August 20, 2003 07:00 PM | PERMALINK

I know of one person (not a conservtive) who is still an associate professor after 25 years of tenure. This is very unusual.

Actually, it isn't. Just about every department has at least one or two "permanent" associates. You're a bit more likely to find them at research schools, where it can be rather difficult to get promoted to full. At comprehensive schools you occasionally encounter permanent assistants--normally someone hired as ABD who failed to finish, but nevertheless proved good enough in the classroom to warrant keeping on the staff. (These are usually older faculty, however, hired in an age when it was a seller's market.)

Posted by: Miriam at August 20, 2003 07:11 PM | PERMALINK

Keith wrote:

" Diplomatic history positions are indeed dwindling, but that's largely because undergraduate students shun those classes, and grad students find relatively little interesting work being done in the field. "

Actually this is a self-referential phenomena. Diplomatic history positions are eliminated and thus fewer such courses are offered. The fewer courses in this subfield are then more likely to be taught by someone who wrote their dissertation on the power implications of gender discrimination in 17th century witchcraft trials.

Serious students hoping for an academic career see the handwriting on the wall and opt for a field in which they have some prospects of finding a job when they finally graduate. Fewer scholars means less interesting work, particularly when " publish or perish" means untenured faculty have to appease the PC tastes of the journals.

This is not a chicken-or-egg question. The DH and Political history positions were cut first as a normative choice even as departments added redundant positions in other fields.

Posted by: mark safranski at August 20, 2003 07:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Although I am an outstanding teacher..."

Modest fellow, too. He and Cornel West should definitely get together for tea sometime.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at August 20, 2003 07:36 PM | PERMALINK

I feel like a couple issues are being conflated here. I think it is pretty obvious that in humanities and social sciences, a person's politics will often have an effect on his scholarship. Take history, for example. First of all, a leftist historian will tend to see the same historical data in a different way than a right-y historian. That's unfortunate, but probably unavoidable. But second, a leftist historian will likely choose to study different things or use different methods than a right-y historian. Howard Zinn writes leftist history about the "common people"; I'm sure there are a couple right-y historians writing about the common people too, but people on the right tend to think that the history of events or of great men or whatever is more important.

My point is just that one's politics affects not only one's results, but also the fields one chooses to study. So it may not be that academics look at a tenure or hiring candidate and think, "Jeez, this is great scholarship, but the guy's a Republican so I'm voting against him." Rather, they think, "What we really need in the department is someone to teach a good course on labor history, [or social construction of race, or whatever]." Well, the only people out there who think that stuff is worth writing about are on the left, so of course they're going to get hired.

One also ought not to forget that scholars aren't born, they're made. I attend Harvard Law School, and I think it's certainly harder for conservative students to find scholars to serve as mentors, research advisors, etc. They're certainly out there -- I don't want to imply that conservatives are being oppressed -- but it's probably significantly more difficult.

Posted by: Chris at August 20, 2003 07:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an ex academic who was a business prof for many years. My experience--sexism is a far greater problem among academics and tenure than is political viewpoint. I've never known any one who was denied tenure for being too conservative or too liberal for that matter. It just doesn't seem to matter.

Posted by: ann revere at August 20, 2003 07:41 PM | PERMALINK

My brother in law recently received tenure in economics at a midwestern school. He says that the faculty there leans toward conservative, but they are really quite uninterested in ideology. He mentioned that he tried to tweak a few of his colleagues by saying they were Marxists when they said that capitalism in China would inevitably lead to democracy, but they apparently considered ideology too irrelevant to rise to the bait.

Posted by: Alex at August 20, 2003 07:53 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting. I read just the other day about the U of Chicago history professor whose work was cited by Justice Kennedy in the Lawrence case. The article said he was passed over by many departments because his research agenda was too radical.

No evidence of that was offered. Should I suppose it isn't true?

The reality is as we all know it to be. Conservatives aren't encouraged to pursue the careers, they aren't hired, and there's anecdotal evidence that they are passed over for tenure at a higher rate. Others with similarly non-mainstream academic views probably experience similar things; I expect that religously traditionalist but politically liberal candidates don't fare well in the process either, and I don't doubt that those on the cutting edge of queer studies didn't do well for a time.

Here's my story. I'm a lawyer, and was a distinguished, if I say so myself, law student before that, with an expressed interest in career in the legal academy. I was told by more than one professor--liberal white male professors-- that my skin color and politics would make the pursuit of that career difficult, but not impossible. I chose to do something else.

Before law school I had considered a graduate education in philosophy. I was encouraged in the pursuit of that by a (liberal white male) professor. But, looking at the profession, I didn't see anyone who had a political worldview at all similar to mine. It's one thing being the odd voice out in class, quite another to turn one's livelihood over to those who think I'm crazy. I passed on the opportunity, and went to law school instead.

Posted by: Thomas at August 20, 2003 07:54 PM | PERMALINK

more liberals in academia for the same reason there's more liberals in the media (or were at one time)...bottom line...not enough money in academia...same reason you'll find few leftists energy traders or bankers...leftists have interests other than money and pursue them. Their ideals can trump the paycheck arguement...

just a thought...

M

Posted by: mike switzer at August 20, 2003 07:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for someone to come forward with a contemporary definition of "conservative." I don't have any idea what the term means anymore...

Posted by: peter jung at August 20, 2003 08:15 PM | PERMALINK

Chris wrote:

"I feel like a couple issues are being conflated here. I think it is pretty obvious that in humanities and social sciences, a person's politics will often have an effect on his scholarship. Take history, for example. First of all, a leftist historian will tend to see the same historical data in a different way than a right-y historian. That's unfortunate, but probably unavoidable. But second, a leftist historian will likely choose to study different things or use different methods than a right-y historian. "

Historians spend a fair amount of time criticizing each other's work on methodological grounds and use of sources. However this is not a Left-Right breakdown but one of Competent-Incompetent. John Lewis Gaddis and Walter LeFeber are both excellent historians, their sharply differing political views on how to interpret history in a moral sense notwithstanding. I don't agree with the views of Howard Zinn at all or much of what Eric Foner has to say about contemporary issues but I wouldn't argue that they are poor historians. Far from it, particularly in Foner's case.

Now if you engage in plagiarism, are sloppy with your citations, look at evidence selectively, ignore data that weakens your argument, fail to provide evidence for your claims - then you are a mediocre scholar.

Posted by: mark safranski at August 20, 2003 08:25 PM | PERMALINK

So Republicans should be denied tenure? Ideological prejudice rationalized in the bastion of 'free speech' that public universities should be but are not?

Well I'm no believer in Godwin's law that the first asshat to mention the Nazi's loses the argument... allow me to dispute your point that (R)'s are fascist:

National Socialist German Worker's Party appealed to the unemployed and disenfranchised in rivalry with the Communists. They are left-wing in name and outlook.

The Nazi's preached 'Common use before private use'.

The Nazi's endorsed Eugenics including the founder of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger.

The Nazi's endorsed 'Gun Control'.

The Nazi's implemented revolutionary ideologically based 'change'... they were not 'conservatives'.

The Nazi's allies in the Reichstag were the leftist Unions(SPD)

"Ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Fuehrer" (One State, one people, one leader) sounds Collectivist to me
"What is the worldly religion of the Jew?
Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money."? No. It was not Adolf Hitler but Karl Marx himself.

How are 'Affirmative Action' and 'Diversity' not race based preferences consistent with Nazi Master-race theories? Why is the left against Proposition 54 in California?

We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions. (Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by John Toland, Adolf Hitler, 1977, p. 306)

Godwin's law is just another PC imposition to surpress the 'big lie' that covers the fact that NAZI's are a collectivist Left wing organization and their tactics, like the assault on the common sense individualism of Republicans, betrays them as NAZI's.

Oh... and to say that education attracts the altruistic ignores the fact it also attracts those seeking a non-competitive 'dodge'...

Tenured professors... like 'mom and dad' would laugh at you.

Posted by: DANEgerus at August 20, 2003 08:39 PM | PERMALINK

For my own part I suspect that there is discrimination based on political viewpoints but I suspect it works both ways. The dynamic in question revolves around bureaucratic behavior. If you have any hierarchic organization, the values and mindsets of the people at the top of the pyramid take on a life of their own. If the people who tend to be near the top of the pyramid have the power to determine who will "rise" in the hierarchy, the natural inclination will be that those whose values and beliefs most closely mirror the ones at the top will be the ones who will rise within the pyramid. People who have "weird ideas" or "bad attitudes" will remain at the bottom where they will have little power to influnce the "culture" of the organization. The "culture" will perpetuate itself. If (and I'm using an absurd example to illustrate the principle) one of the main and cherished tenets of a given organization was that the earth was flat, people who entered at the lower level who openly professed a belief that the earth was round would probably never be promoted by their superiors because they held such outlandish and r idiculous beliefs. Thus, power is only given to those who accept the core values of those at the top. Its essentially intellectual inertia. This process works in government agencies, businesses, and, I strongly suspect, at academic institutions.

And then again, as many of the people here have pointed out, the influnce of one's political beliefs in academia depends upon what subject you're talking about. I truly doubt that one's political beliefs could have any effect on how they viewed quantum mechanics, but it might indeed be a factor when it came to the "social" sciences.

I do not doubt that there are departments where conservatives can never hope to acheive any respective positions of power because of their beliefs, just as I believe that in other places there is no way in hell that a liberal could rise to any predominant position. Is this really so suprising?

Posted by: Ratbane at August 20, 2003 08:48 PM | PERMALINK

I have to laugh at the guy above who wrote that academia attracts the non-competitive. He's obviously not familiar with what publish-or-perish means. Given the state of the job market for history profs right now (it sucks), I *wish* academics were non-competitive. Unfortunately, it's far from it. Lots of overqualified scholars fighting over too few jobs right now (and for several years, actually).

Posted by: Jim E. at August 20, 2003 08:56 PM | PERMALINK

It is always hard to tell given we don't know John's department. Generally, political ideology doesn't matter as much as methodological ideology in the departments I'm familiar with. Inbreeding occurs, but not along ideological reasons in any purposeful manner.

That being said, David Hogberg points out that being a conservative in a polisci program is like being a turd in punch bowl and that is one of many reasons why there is such ideological imbalance.

While better balance would be good, I can't say that what is taught in most classes is left wing propoganda--in fact most of it is analytical and not ideological. There are exceptions, but usually, they aren't very good teachers or researchers.

Posted by: ArchPundit at August 20, 2003 09:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a lowly graduate student so I can't speak about tenure. I will say this, undergraduate and graduate students, from my anecdotal experience, tend to be to the left of the general public on average.

I think that conservatives who decry the liberal slant of academia may be overlooking the real problem:
Conservatives are under-represented in graduate school (except for Business, Law and Econ I guess).
As such, I am a strong supporter for ideological affirmative action. A lot of this already happens by proxy through geographic preferences.
I think this is where conservatives should focus their energy; that and the rising anti-intellectualism on the right.

Posted by: WillieStyle at August 20, 2003 09:53 PM | PERMALINK

The original question asked was if there happened to be systematic evidence that faculty members in higher education were being discriminated against because they had a particular political viewpoint. I say no. It just doesn't work that way in academia.

At the large Midwestern research university where I teach ideas of all sorts are more than plentiful. They're literally "a dime a dozen." Every which way you turn there are ideas being promoted that have years of clinical and/or field research to back them up. At any given hour of the day a dozen (or more) individuals with world-class credentials are championing differing points of view. Many of those views are incredibly radical and some of them verge on being inflammatory. In this kind of environment the notion that any particular faculty member is a Republican or Democrat is a pretty lightweight concept.

Real academia is not your neighborhood barbershop where everybody has an opinion and the local jerks get to strut their stuff. It is, instead, a serious professional environment that nurtures all kinds of reasoned ideas, both mainstream and orphan.

Posted by: Georg Heimdal at August 20, 2003 09:56 PM | PERMALINK

2) that conservatives are uninterested in pursuing academia as a career (plausible).

A small anecdote from my own life. I graduated from an Ivy League college and went back for my five-year reunion earlier this summer. Got the whole gang back together again and everything; it was great. But as the day wore on and we began telling our stories, I noticed a few things:

* My college friends spanned the ideological spectrum, from diehard conservative Republicans to flamingly liberal Democrats. [That latter would be, uh, me.] And the resolutely apolitical, too.
* We were all, if I say so myself, intelligent, ambitious people. Those of us who were slackers (and again, uh, that would be me) were slackers in a motivated, geeky sort of way.
* Almost none of the conservatives went on to graduate school; and of those few who did ALL went either to law school or med school. A few other conservatives were planning on going to business school down the road.
* Around a third of the liberals did (or had done) some kind of graduate work -- getting a teaching degree, MA, PhD, whatever -- but only ONE went into either law school or med school. [And he only went to law school after working on a math PhD for three years.] Another of my liberal friends is flirting with the idea of law school, but that's not saying much.
* As near as I could gauge it, the average conservative income was at least two to three times higher than the average liberal income. The only ones living in near-poverty (and that's a hat-trick of self-referentiality!) were of liberal persuasion; the only ones making insane amounts of money (at least three of my friends are near-millionaires) were conservatives.

The short version of this is that it appears fairly clear to me that, at least for this limited sample size, conservatives seem to prioritize income higher than liberals. And giving how appallingly academia pays -- or at least, how long you have to defer a legitimate income, and how small it tends to be relative to what you could make in the private sector -- it doesn't surprise me in the least that there are relatively few conservative (domestic) grad students in my department, and thus relatively few conservatives going on to be professors.

YMMV, of course.

Posted by: Anarch at August 20, 2003 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm probably wasting my time posting on this dead thread after the asshat DANEgerus posted, but anyway --

I think that there is a tendency toward consensus centrism in academia just like everywhere else. People who insist on unpopular opinions will be culled because they have annoying, insistent personalities, rather than purely because of their opinions. No one has ever denied that "collegiality" is a factor.

Political bias varies from discipline to discipline and school to school. Some economics departments are viciously right wing. Engineering tends right as I've heard. And so on.

I had a sociologist friend who was being courted by two grad schools, one left, one right. The rightist one had markedly more money and so he went that way. (Of course, in sociology the right wing is in the Martin Peretz area. Probably there are few Phil Gramm sociologists).

You have to consider that free-market conservatives are unlikely to go into something as un-lucrative as academic life. And you also have to consider that many conservatives are strongly anti-intellectual and that a significant proportion are dumb as stumps. (Bite me, SPC67. Go blow up a UNICEF solicitor or something).

I actually thought of an academic career for awhile, which is why I concealed my identity for awhile. But then I realized that annoying people do not do well in the academic world, so why bother? I can tell you though -- when we annoying people stand up and claim our rights, we'll shake the world.

Posted by: zizka at August 20, 2003 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Is it surprising that Repubs are not the BMOC's? First of all, they have to know what they are talking about. Then they have to face a diverse student body on a daily basis. And lastly, they have to answer unscripted questions.

Posted by: Mr. Palmer at August 20, 2003 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Zizka, you're exactly right that many conservatives are strongly anti-intellectual and that a significant proportion are dumb as stumps.

Unfortunately, that doesn't distinguish them from liberals, who often do go on to academic careers.

I've never understood the argument that these jobs aren't lucrative, so conservatives wouldn't want them anyway. They're very lucrative, if one considers the various costs and benefits.

Posted by: Thomas at August 20, 2003 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

They're very lucrative, if one considers the various costs and benefits.

I think that depends quite heavily on what you consider to be "lucrative". For myself, I don't use "lucrative" to mean "possessed of high utility", I mean "makes lots of money." In that sense, no, being a professor is -- on average -- a decided nonlucrative career path, especially when one considers the lost potential income of the grad school years.

I agree that the academic life has some degree of compensating benefits, but exactly how compensating they are depends on your valuation of utility. If your valuation slants utility towards financial success and all that implies -- i.e. towards what I would call "lucrative" -- then being a professor would probably not be a an appropriate choice. If your valuation slants utility in other directions -- e.g. flexible working hours, health benefits and potentially the job security of a tenured position -- then, yes, being a professor is possessed of high utility... although much of that utility is not (directly) monetary in nature.

I should add a disclaimer here that I'm still in grad school, so that's a worm's eye view. It is, however, a worm's eye view informed by conversations with my father, a historian for 25+ years.

Posted by: Anarch at August 20, 2003 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

I will say this as delicately and politely as I can: I think John Lemon is full of shit, and I question whether he's telling us the whole story. Something's not right.
Does a tenured professor at a large university really walk up to "your typical aging campus radical from the psychedelic era," grab the anitwar protester's flyer, and then crumble it up and stick it in the protester's face on campus? Isn't he a tad intolerant of opposing views? Presumably a university exists in part to teach the value of exploring, airing, and debating conflicting beliefs, no? Seems he must have missed the seminar on the importance of diverse views and the nurturing of critical thought.
I have many more questions, but it's late back here. Suffice it to say that I think this guy is a charlatan, an arrogant, self-absorbed impostor.

Posted by: Dan Baker at August 20, 2003 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

You people are wonderfully skeptical. Statements like, "The underrepresentation of conservatives in the humanities could simply be that fewer conservatives choose to go into academia", are everywhere. Lets translate that into something that the EEOC would recognize.

The underrepresentation of black people in corporate executive positions could simply be that fewer black people choose to go into high-pressure executive track jobs.

I'm confident that in our next discussion of racial discrimination we will all be using the same burden of proof established in this thread.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at August 21, 2003 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

I can't speak for anyone else in this thread, Sebastian, but if you could actually provide compelling evidence that "The underrepresentation of conservatives in the humanities could simply be that fewer conservatives choose to go into academia" is false, I'd certainly be willing to change my stance. [Well, I'd actually be looking for something a little more stringent, having to do with proportionality, availability, opportunity and the like, but that's the basic idea.] But I think your analogy here fails for two or three reasons.

The first is that the wide panoply of affirmative-action-style programs, into which category I'll lump the EEOC example above, are based on the premise that those receiving affirmative action are systemically discriminated against based purely on some group to which they belong. Whether or not you accept that premise, I don't believe that you can show that conservatives are systematically disenfranchised throughout their education, which means that your analogy fails here. If you'd like to prove me wrong, though, please be my guest.

The second is slightly tricker: there's a qualitative distinction between immutables (gender, ethnicity and the like) and ideology. I think most people would agree that discrimination on the former category is, as a general rule, bad. Discriminating on the latter is a little trickier in academia, simply because as your ideology as, say, a historian informs your work. Now I certainly believe -- as, it appears, does every other academic here -- that one's personal politics should not by themselves determine one's chance for tenure, provided they meet some minimal standards. [No Nazis, for example, "tolerance" and "diversity" notwithstanding.] The problem is that unlike measuring performance vis a vis immutables, which should presumably be two independent metrics, measuring performance in academia vis a vis ideology involves two potentially correlated metrics. Maybe the conservative position on economics is compromised; maybe the liberal position on the environment is just wrong. I'm not saying this can't be dealt with, but I can't see any legitimate way of screening out this correlation that doesn't involve we, the great unwashed masses, making political decisions about objective reality. It'd be Lysenkoism in (affirmative) action.

The last reason is quite obvious, I think; perhaps so obvious it goes without mentioning. In the case of black people (or women, or Jews, or gays, or whichever group is in question) it has been shown repeatedly that they really do want to do the jobs in question. Perhaps not in as great numbers as the opposite group -- does the EEOC mandate that there be as many blacks in any given corporation as in the general population? I don't know, but I suspect not -- but in sufficiently great numbers that one can legitimately claim they're being underrepresented.

More accurately, they not only want to be executives, they're willing to make the necessary sacrifices to become one. I'd like to be a writer, for example, but I'm not willing to spend the years honing my skills in order to produce a shining piece of prose. [As this post attests.] Does this mean that I could allege discrimination because my "liberal values" mean that I'm unable to adequately compete with other writers? Hardly. I didn't pay my dues in the profession, so I lacked the skills required to compete; end of story. To pick a less trivial example, one could certainly allege a "conservative bias" against corporate executives -- and I have done so on numerous occasions -- but one couldn't appeal to the EEOC for remedy since the problem is likely that liberal valuations are difficult to reconcile with the sacrifices needed to become executive.

This, then, is the point on which the statement "The underrepresentation of conservatives in the humanities could simply be that fewer conservatives choose to go into academia" turns. It's an empirical statement; my experience tends to support that, others' might not. In the case of black people, I think we've seen time and time again that the desire to succeed in business, and the willingness to make the requisite sacrifices, transcend racial boundaries. In the case of conservatives in academia, I believe that are many conservatives who'd like to be professors if it were simply a matter of clicking one's heels... but I also believe that most of those were put off from this desire by the brutal grind of graduate life. [At least a third of my entering class has dropped out, and more will be going soon.] As I said waaaaaaay back up there, if you have evidence to the contrary, I'd be happy to hear it.

Anyway, it's late and I'm still mildly concussed, so I'll shut up now. Sorry for the slog, but I think your point merited an (exhaustive) response. :)

Posted by: Anarch at August 21, 2003 02:16 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, Kevin, I know you don't have much in the way of posting guidelines but on looking back over my post... so, just how much did I go over your desired length?

Posted by: Anarch at August 21, 2003 02:18 AM | PERMALINK

When I taught a bit at U of Chicago, the place was chockablock with plenty of professors who could only be described as conservative. Much to my surprise, so were many of the students. Nevertheless, some of the kids were quite smart and charming (irony/joke alert).

Posted by: tristero at August 21, 2003 02:28 AM | PERMALINK

(i) Let me add my voice to the number of academics here who think that it's just hooey to think that conservatives are the victims of any general sort of discrimination in the academy. I can only speak for philosophy, and indeed for my own experience within that field, but when engaged in a hiring search frankly we are unlikely to even know what a candidates political views are, let alone discriminate on their basis. Even in political philosophy or philosophy of law, where something like the person's orientation will be known, someone defending a conservative political thesis with a good argument will be in a much, much better position than someone defending a liberal one lamely.

(ii) Some small anecdotal evidence for the self-selection/conservatives-prefer-income thesis: my high school was a very conservative boys prep school in the south. When I was a senior, and expressed that I intended to pursue an academic career, this declaration was met with a mixture of confusion and a kind of disgust that I can only describe as a fear of a class traitor. Of the top students in my class, I was the only one of a decidedly liberal persuasion ... and the only one to pursue an academic career.

(iii) Having said all that, let me conjecture one small way in which "Prof. Lemon" may be right. It seems to me that, in the academy, conservatives are not discriminated against qua conservatives. But maybe, _maybe_, angry vociferous conservatives may be discriminated against qua angry vociferous conservatives. Various sorts of in-your-face bad behavior that would be excused in a left-leaning colleague might receive greater censure when performed by a right-leaning one. But this is purely a conjecture on my part.

(iv) If one extends the umbrella term "academia" to include think tanks, RAND, etc., would that indicate much less of an ideological imbalance in academia?

Posted by: JW at August 21, 2003 05:36 AM | PERMALINK

JW has a good post, but let me add one or two things as an academic.

Those who are "conservative" on economic and military issues have no problem getting ahead in my field (Political Science). This is very true in Economics as well.

Those who are "conservative" on social and cultural issues are on less firm ground, although they seem to do just fine in Law, for example. Since the academy is by definition populated by members of the new middle class, their biases are always well represented: running the range of opinions on economic questions but demanding (and often getting) a rather narrow range on socio-cultural issues. It's OK to be a libertarian or an imperialist in the academy. If you're a Christian, for example, you've got a much tougher row to hoe.

Posted by: General Glut at August 21, 2003 05:49 AM | PERMALINK

"It's OK to be a libertarian or an imperialist in the academy. If you're a Christian, for example, you've got a much tougher row to hoe."

Well, that's true up to a point, I'm sure, but properly so. Not many believers in the literal truth of Genesis are going to rise to the top of biology departments. That's not improper discrimination--that's simply requiring that scientists be scientists.

Posted by: rea at August 21, 2003 06:41 AM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty close to both North Texas (Armey) and TAMU (Gramm) and their Econ departments. My understanding from talking to faculty is that Armey left because he wanted (gasp) to run for Congress, and Phil Gramm left because his publication record was weak and TAMU was attempting to upgrade the department, so the writing was on the wall, anyway.

Believe me, it wasn't political bias, at least in the latter case. There are several Mont Pelarin Society(Friedman and Hayek's libertarian intellectual group) members on the TAMU Economics faculty. Gramm's social conservativism was less congenial, but there wasn't enough ill-will either way to cause serious problems. Marshall Gramm - Phil and Wendy's son - got his PhD in Economics from TAMU in 2000. The department is right-libertarian enough that I would guess a liberal might feel unwelcome there, but I doubt that a conservative would run into problems.

Posted by: rvman at August 21, 2003 06:41 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian is as reliable as the sun rising in the morning. What we were saying is that qualified conservatives go into better-paying areas like business instead of academia. And in fact, engineering professors, law professors and economists, who are able to make much more money than English professors, also tend to be much more conservative. (To say nothing of business management and entrepreneurs).

You could say the same for high school teaching, which barely gets you into the middle class while forcing you to listen to people bitching about how high school teachers are (shocking!)paid more than the average worker in the work force!

So in order to get more conservatives into English departments, you'd have to pay English professors a lot more.

Sebastian -- turning the other guy's arguments back on himself can be a very effective rhetorical trick now and then, but when you do it all the time it makes you seem like a failed experiment in artificial intelligence. Always remember the Turing test!

In cases I was unclear, what I meant to say in my most recent posts is that dumb anti-intellectual people tend to be conservative. I'd like to see a survey on that. Somehow I don't think that the 10% or so of the Republicans who are happily waiting for Armageddon are people who would ever be capable of teaching history at the college level.

Anarch, Sebastian's knee-jerk productions rarely deserve a serious response. You blew him out of the water, but that happens to him all the time. He's indestructible.

Posted by: zizka at August 21, 2003 06:58 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian Hosclaw--there is a standard in the law used to show racial discrimination in hiring, promotion, denial of tenure, discharge and discipline--known as the McDonell Douglas test--
1) the plaintiff belongs to a racial minority
2) the plaintiff applied and was qualified for a job for which the employer was seeking applicants
3) plaintiff was rejected despite his qualifications
4) after plaintiff's rejection, the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants from persons of plaintiff's qualifications

now can you use the above test, substituting "Republican Party" or "conservative"(whatever that means) for "racial minority" and provide an example of where it's occured in academia? It's been proven over and over again in racial discrimination cases.
(Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here)

Posted by: Ringo at August 21, 2003 07:07 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, I agree with the poster above who says that this alleged professor is a total phoney. Unless he says who he is so that it can be verified, he's just a clown trying to perpetuate that Horowitz conservative persecution myth.

Posted by: Ringo at August 21, 2003 07:12 AM | PERMALINK

I've spent my whole professional life in academia and I can tell you faculty doesn't divide into conservative and liberals. It divides into tenure and non-tenured, and further into "stars" and "everyday". If you have tenure you could probably set fire to the student lounge and dance naked in the flames and there would be a job waiting for you when you came out of the loony bin. If you are a star, you wouldn't even have to go to the loony bin; the whole incident would be considered part and parcel of your brilliance.

Are there "liberal" departments? Certainly. Are there "conservative" department? Absolutely. My first graduate school department (history, if you are interested) was incredibly conservative. One professor actually advised me that "women were more suited to secretarial and nursing positions". I spoke to one faculty and several secretaries in te department, whose advice was: get out of Dodge, because you're dead meat. I did. Even then, I knew the uselessness of the "he said, she said" argument. He did this to my own certain knowledge to three hispanic students. NOBODY ever called him on it. He was a rainmaker for the department and they were not about to offend him.

So anecdotal evidence is at best uncertain. We all have our stories....but for a tenured professor telling me he is afraid of his department...he's either aiming for department head or higher. He's playing University politics, and believe me, those are dirty enough to make the Texas redistricting fight a model of decorum and good behavior.

Posted by: Emma at August 21, 2003 07:16 AM | PERMALINK

Just to add some empirical data to the chorus, my mother is a traditional liberal and father a staunch conservative. He's been far more 'successful' than she (by most commonly-held standards of 'success') because he publishes frequently and she has never published anything of note.

Granted my father hasn't taught at remarkably liberal colleges, but almost all schools I'm familiar with lean towards liberalism. When my father was hired at a southern A&M college to be head of his department he became a visible political target for a lot of faculty liberals in other departments (including the father of one of my best friends who was continually mining me for damaging personal information about [my father]). There is a great deal of emnity against conversativsm and I can understand why a conservative would feel ostracized on most modern campuses, but I think the bottom line is that if you're good at what you do and are capable of bringing academic prestige to the school you'll be forgiven just about everything.

My father has complained about the preponderance of liberals in his faculties, but never complained about being discriminated against. And he probably would have were it happening.

Posted by: theperegrine at August 21, 2003 07:20 AM | PERMALINK

Hi.
This is John Lemon.
Interesting thread going here, far too much for me to comment on now, but I will post a response to all of this on my blog within the next 24 hours (i.e., by Friday morning).

Suffice it to say that when we were interviewinga candidate about two years ago who had said something that smacked of conservatism in his job talk, there were at least two people going office to office lobbying that we reject him b/c he was a conservative ideologue. We didn't hire him, despite the fact that he had the strongest publication record of the batch we interviewed.

Our department also chooses hotels for candidates based upon whether they have unionized labor and whether they serve wine that is on the blacklist from the Caesar Chavez crowd. I kid you not.

During faculty meetings, conservatives are called assholes, f****** idiots and all sorts of other names. If you would substitute the word "gay" for conservative, most of these folks would be in the Dean's office defending themselves.

I still use a pseudonym because I need to get promoted to the next level -- full professor -- which comes with a bump in salary. The jump to full prof is much more ambiguous than getting tenure.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 07:25 AM | PERMALINK

And again, why should anyone believe that you are other than 100% full of shit?
You might as well recite fairy tales. But I'm sure you'll find plenty of believers over at freerepublic.

Posted by: Ringo at August 21, 2003 07:56 AM | PERMALINK

As an ex-academic, I think we need to be very specific when we're talking about tenure. Lemon says that _in his department_ a conservative couldn't get tenure. And he doesn't say what field he's in.

Those are two important issues. First, he's not saying conservatives in general can't get tenure--just not in his department. Because academic departments in research institutions have specific characters, they sometimes have biases that arise more out of the academic paradigm that professors have in common than any intentional bias. For example, I got my PhD in a literature department recognized for its strength in non-European areas. Not surprisingly, it had a number of professors from non-European areas--or people who had spent significant time there. This is going to give tenure discussions a particularly spin that may not be intentional, just a natural outcome of having a bunch of people who work on postcolonial literature. By the same token, I'm guessing it would be very difficult for a liberal to get tenure at U Chicago's Econ department. Not necessarily because, once hired, the department would discriminate against said liberal professor. But because a professor accepting liberal paradigms would not be hired, his or her work would not be considered very interesting by the faculty.

Which brings me to the second point. Lemon doesn't say what field he's in. A bunch of people have posted that there is no bias in their departments--but they tend to be in the sciences (widely defined). Science departments are founded on the paradigm of the scientific method, which doesn't really have much relation to one's ideology (unless you're one of the scientists hired by Bush and his crowd). But the foundational paradigms of most humanities disciplines and social sciences (the soft ones, anyway) do relate--at least tangentially--to one or another ideological bias. I chose to work in literature because the tools available were ones that worked for my project; I could just as easily have done my work in communications (and have taught there). By choosing the field I did, though, I was choosing a particular approach that really had an underlying ideological bias. So I'm thinking that if Lemon is in the humanities or social sciences, he may simply have gotten himself hired in a department which was not necessarily a good match. But the academic job market being what it is, I'm not surprised he didn't reveal that to his potential colleagues.

But both of these points have underlying implications for academics that I think are worth noting: Academics is supposed to be about free inquiry, challenged by confronting opposing opinions. I don't think that's what academe really is, though, largely because within a particular field, you are going to be judged (in peer review) by those who accept the same foundational paradigm as you do. Which means the possibilities for disagreement are fairly limited. Which means the academy is not really challenging itself paradigmatically as much as it claims to.

Posted by: emptywheel at August 21, 2003 08:05 AM | PERMALINK

Academics is supposed to be about free inquiry, challenged by confronting opposing opinions. I don't think that's what academe really is, though, largely because within a particular field, you are going to be judged (in peer review) by those who accept the same foundational paradigm as you do. Which means the possibilities for disagreement are fairly limited. Which means the academy is not really challenging itself paradigmatically as much as
it claims to.

Remind me to call you next time I want to make a complex point in a pithy manner. :) Well said. Now, what can be done about it?

Posted by: spc67 at August 21, 2003 08:10 AM | PERMALINK

So Lemon feels that he has to con his collegues about his views to accomplish "more goals . . . in the academy" ? There's an obvious explanation for his professional problems: He's a flaming horse's ass.

This is a judgement call, of course, but it seems pretty clear from reading his 'blog. Among other things: it's 2003 and he's still complaining about "hippies." I didn't know Eric Cartman had tenure.

Posted by: Molly at August 21, 2003 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

John is legitimate. While I don't know his identity, the last post does a pretty good job representing how petty academic hiring can be. Reading his previous stuff, he is in the discipline.

Assuming John is accurate in what he is relaying it is a serious problem at his institution. I'm not sure it is as serious across the board in polisci. That doesn't detract from the fact that ideological diversity is a good thing. In hiring it is most important to have a first rate researcher and someone who can train and mentor students, but ideological balance is a good thing to strive for. I don't think it is as easy to achieve for demographic and self-selection reasons, but one thing to make it better would be to reduce the weird conservative bashing that goes on.

It shouldn't matter what one's political ideology is if they are doing research that sharpens our understanding of human behavior.

I can think of a good example in the rat choice debates. Some opponents of rat choice don't take issue with its explanatory power, but with some supposed hidden agenda behind it that is supposed to be promoting capitalism. Given most researchers I know who use rat choice are certainly Democrats and somewhat liberal, I find this an amusing argument beyond that it doesn't deal with explanatory power of a method.

Posted by: ArchPundit at August 21, 2003 08:23 AM | PERMALINK

emptywheel--Actually, the UofC economics department is remarkably open to those who disagree with traditional Chicago-school economics. See S. Levitt, for example. And the GSB at Chicago has R. Thaler, as notable a non-Chicago-school academic as one could imagine.

Perhaps those on the right are better at dealing with dissent?

zizka--The thing is, most of the dumb, anti-intellectual people I meet are liberal. (And I'm not including all the uneducated/undereducated morons who are on the left.) Perhaps by "dumb, anti-intellectual" we mean different things; I mean just that such people are incapable of anything other than rote response and that they find intellectual argument, particular about controversial issues, threatening or offensive. Maybe we travel in different circles...

Posted by: Thomas at August 21, 2003 08:34 AM | PERMALINK

I teach economics at a non-PhD. teaching university in Wisconsin. I'm tenured, full professor and a Howard Dean supporter. We have a wide range of political opinions, here, though as a broad generality, folks in the physical sciences probably tend to be more conservative, natural sciences are probably pretty well split, humanities and social sciences tend to lean toward the liberal side, and my business colleagues are, of course, mostly conservative. I can't recall a single case at our university where someone's political opinions ever even entered the conversation when it came to decisions on retention, tenure, or promotion. In all the personnel committee meetings I've sat in, NEVER, NOT ONCE, did the candidate's political opinions matter in the decision.

Yeah, in class I probably sound "liberal" since there are good reasons grounded in economic theory for why government intervention can, if well designed, help promote greater efficiency (a higher overall level of economic welfare), a smoother and more effective operation of markets, and a more equitable set of outcomes of market activities. I make very sure to point these out to students since they can get plenty of the Rush Limbaugh b.s. elsewheres in society. And the funny thing is that many of us with advanced degrees do think that equity and environmental protection (expressions of moral values) are just as important, if not more so, than the bottom line. If that makes me a biased, academic liberal, so be it! And I'm damn proud of it!

Posted by: Den from Wisc at August 21, 2003 08:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm in a medical school department, about 1/3 PhDs and 2/3 MDs. I'd say about 90% of the MDs are conservatives. The PhDs are split exactly 50/50. There is one rabid conservative and one rabid liberal PhD. Those two and I have lunch every Wednesday. Though it's presumptuous to speak for them, I don't think it's a stretch to say that we'd all be deeply offended if there was even a hint of consideration was given to political affiliation in regards to any sort of hiring/promotion/tenure decision on any of the committees upon which we serve.

Just more anecdotal grist for the fire.

Posted by: Jeff Boatright at August 21, 2003 08:38 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps those on the right are better at dealing with dissent?

I'm sure you think they are. And that's why your posts are banned here. And I'm sure, from your point of view, all the "dumb anti-intellectual" people you meet are liberal.
Well, that's all the proof I need./sarcasm

I'm still waiting for someone to show me one real example of a Republican/conservative being denied tenure or not hired because of political affiliation. So far I've seen none, and there are obviously no reliable studies on the issue.

Posted by: Ringo Mountbatten at August 21, 2003 08:57 AM | PERMALINK

spc67 - I'm a Swat grad, too!

Posted by: jesse at August 21, 2003 09:08 AM | PERMALINK

The humanities and social sciences, by nature, obviously impinge on politics more than the sciences. Furthermore, there's a broader range of disagreement within these fields; most areas of physics are non-controversial, where everyone agrees with what the science says. Not true in any of the humanities or social sciences.

As a result, the discretionary power in hiring and promotion is enormous. It covers methodology too. For example, Popperians are angry that they can get hired in Britain but not the US -- not for political reasons. Process philosophers can only get work in theology departments. When this kind of thing happens (I'm on the losing side most of the time) it's in the nature of the game. The consensus on basic methodological principles really can't be as complete as in physics.

Political opinions could be part of the mix, but "collegiality" covers a lot. There was a tenured anti-feminist conservative where I went to school, and he was a very unpleasant guy with personal grudges. And like I said, no one would ever hire me because I'm annoying.

Posted by: zizka at August 21, 2003 09:19 AM | PERMALINK

As an academic in the Humanities, I can say that I think of it rather as a teaching/fraternizing block, as opposed to a promotion block. Most historians, linguists, writers, media analysts in academe tend to support liberal causes, and attempt to serve as a voice against the dominant discourse. So, if you watch indie films, believe in women's right to choose, history as ever-changing and able to be reinterpreted, gender race and class as fundamental categories of analysis etc., then you will have more friends in departments, more sway at meetings, and more acceptance of your pedagogy. However, at my university, one with a VERY liberally minded humanities center, our tenure is decided more by science criteria than political belief (i.e., a recent professor was denied tenure despite unanimous support from the department because she did not have enough citations of her work in the academy etc, and because several people (men) thought she had received too many benefits while not publishing a book on time). 1 out of 20 members of the university tenure board serves on the Humanities. Thus, it would be hard for the Humanities to block conservatives even if they were so inclined.

Posted by: Dave at August 21, 2003 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

This guy has tenure? His research methods seem pretty weak

I just realized that I have probably been spelling "vomit" incorrectly all these past months. Given the amount of it I see on a weekly basis, from a variety of sources, it just seems like that word should have two m's.

Posted by: KevinNYC at August 21, 2003 09:47 AM | PERMALINK

My point on standard of proof is not that conservatives are in fact racial minorities. I'll assume that I wasn't clear since so many of you missed the point.

Kevin basically asked if discrimination against conservatives existed. He also strongly suggested that it was really just an urban legend. He did not ask if it would fall under the EEOC (clearly it wouldn't as being conservative is not a racial minority). He asked if it was actually going on.

That is a question of fact. If it is appropriate to find discrimination on the basis of race based on facts A, B, C and/or D it should be equally appropriate to find discrimination on the basis of ideology based on facts A, B, C and/or D. This is true because the meaning of discrimination does not change over the two cases, only the class of person being discriminated against. It may be perfectly LEGAL to discriminate in that fashion. But that isn't the question. The question is: Is such discrimination in fact taking place? It may be morally ok to discriminate against conservatives (as at least 2 above have argued) but that doesn't answer the question

So how do we notice discrimination in the racial context. Since people are rarely stupid enough to leave behind memos outlining racial discrimination, you typically look at individual companies, or in large companies individual departments and find large statistical disparities between the population at large in the area and the number of hires. If a large statistical disparity exists, this is currently considered strong proof that discrimination exists.

We could argue the effectiveness of such an approach if you want, but this is the approach currently in use.

There are indeed disciplines in academea where it is difficult to find conservative in tenured positions. If you accept the statistical modeling approach as evidence for racial discrimination, this would tend to suggest that conservatives are being denied tenure in these (normally non-science) areas.

In reality I am not a big fan of proving discrimination in that way, because it does not adequately control for personal choices which may have dramatic effects on the numbers. But if you do like the use of statistical disparity as proof of racial discrimination, I know of no reason why statistical disparity should not be used as proof of ideological discrimination.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at August 21, 2003 09:49 AM | PERMALINK

ringo writes,
"And again, why should anyone believe that you are other than 100% full of shit?"

Well, Ringo...if I was 100% full of shit I would not be alive since I need my vital organs to survive. Remember Biology 101?

And be careful Ringo or I'll bring back Pete Best. It don't come easy, you know.

Emptywheel has some good comments and hits the problem spot on. However, I didn't reveal my ideological predilections to my department at the time I interviewed since I wanted to have a job. ...and a job at a major university. ...with a good basketball team. ...and running water.

Check back later in the Barrel of Fish (link above) to get more of my comments.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 09:56 AM | PERMALINK

My point on standard of proof is not that conservatives are in fact racial minorities. I'll assume that I wasn't clear since so many of you missed the point.

Oh geez, you really are a basket case. No one thought you were saying that. You wanted a better test to use to show that there was or wasn't discrimination in hiring and tenure. I provided you the test used in racial discrimination cases, which could also be used for gender or age discrimination. It has nothing to do with statistics. Then I asked for someone to provide one example of discrimination in hiring or tenure based on political affiliation or persuasion. So far we have none, except for "professor" Lemon's anonymous anecdotes.

Now, the problem with substituting politics for race, age or gender is that a person's political ideology is hard to determine objectively. Being over a certain age, or of a certain race or gender, however, is objectively determined and doesn't change. I could easily find ten different people who have ten different definitions of "conservative", so how do you really determine that there are an insufficient number of "conservatives" in academe using a statistical analysis? There's also the fact that people's beliefs change over time, for various reasons.

But I've read warnings about not feeding you, so if you don't get, that's it.

Posted by: Ringo at August 21, 2003 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

spc67 - I'm a Swat grad, too!

Jesse, I'm class of '85. Was your experience of the tilt of the faculty similar to mine? Or has it changed? (I always presume those on here are younger...don't know why I do that).

Posted by: spc67 at August 21, 2003 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Lemon is obviously just trolling for hits to his site at this point.

And ultimately, he seems to have a complaint about one candidate (and we don't know anything about said candidate other than Lemon's claim that the publication record was better, which is one but not the only criteria for hiring). For the record, I'm assuming that Lemon never votes to hire based on ideology.

Posted by: halle at August 21, 2003 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Ringo...if I was 100% full of shit I would not be alive since I need my vital organs to survive. Remember Biology 101?

Uh-huh. It was a figure of speech. So are we to assume you're not an english "professor"?

Libruls, libruls, everywhere! An intellectually superior "conservative"(whatever that means) just can't catch a break anywhere.

Posted by: Ringo at August 21, 2003 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Our department also chooses hotels for candidates based upon whether they have unionized labor and whether they serve wine that is on the blacklist from the Caesar (sic) Chavez crowd. I kid you not.

You mean caring about the fair treatment of workers automatically makes you biased against conservatives? Say it ain't so!

Posted by: Maureen at August 21, 2003 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Also, on this point:

"Our department also chooses hotels for candidates based upon whether they have unionized labor and whether they serve wine that is on the blacklist from the Caesar (sic) Chavez crowd. I kid you not."

Why would you be kidding? This is very common, especially for a public institution (I don't know if Lemon's institution is). As is using unionized labor for many jobs where union labor is an option. But the real point is, Lemon seems to think this bolsters his argument that his colleagues (and thus all of academia) discriminate against conservatives. While we still don't know what field Lemon is in, I guess we can safely assume it isn't law.

Posted by: halle at August 21, 2003 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

How is it possible for ideology to not play any role in tenure? (This is an honest question.) How did George Mason and Peperdine Law Schools become well-known right-wing schools without some attention to ideology? How did all of Chicago's grad schools get that way? Don't small liberal arts schools strive to remain "liberal" (as opposed to the Ivy Leagues, which probably attempt to maintain some sort of balance.)

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar at August 21, 2003 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

"Perhaps those on the right are better at dealing with dissent?"

Amen, brother. 'Dealing' with it most effectively, we might add.

Posted by: NixonHooverAshcroftMcCarthy at August 21, 2003 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas wrote: "zizka--The thing is, most of the dumb, anti-intellectual people I meet are liberal."

Two points:

1. The reason this may be so is that when you agree with people, you don't actually take the time to dig down to find out whether they're agreeing with you because they've got an intellectual basis for doing so or whether they're agreeing with you because they're an unthinking dittohead. When you disagree with someone, you end up finding out more about them.

2. Selection bias. Nuff said.

Posted by: PaulB at August 21, 2003 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Ringo,
If the problem with anti-conservative discrimination is that we can't determine who is conservative, I guess we have a fairly serious problem. That wasn't the impression I got from statements like "If there is, it's disgraceful and it should stop, but if there's not, then conservative academics should stop retelling urban legends about how they are victimized by their radical leftist peers." I think the problem may be somewhat challenging, but certainly not impossible.

You don't argue with my point that statistical disparity is a major method of proof in racial discrimination cases. I take it that you do not believe that statistical disparity is particularly good evidence in racial discrimination cases? Or would that be an unfair characterization of your position?

I am confused by your suggestion that no one has provided a case other than Lemon. Right toward the beginning of this thread the K. C. Johnson case is provided. Here it is again. Johnson Overview with links The New Republic seemed to think that it was a serious case as is cited in the referenced document.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at August 21, 2003 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

emptywheel-

Re: Humanities...both my parents are European historians. It seems to me that conservatives do all right in history programs, but when I examine my mother's department hiring practices (she works for a SUNY school) it's appalling how much prejudice is indulged.

For instance...they had a supremely qualified and experienced candidate to teach South and Central American history, but she was white. She was rejected in favor of a string of fresh graduates with dubious qualifications and lackluster academic records, all of whom failed to meet department standards and were quickly dispatched...all Hispanic males.

Why Hispanic? It's insensitive to expect Hispanic students to receive instruction in their own history from a caucasian, and the hiring committee felt a Hispanic would be a feather in their cap when the dean analyzed their commitment to 'diversity' before allocating funds to the department. Why male? Because they were seeking to maintain an even male/female ratio within the department, and more alarmingly because it was determined by the hiring committee that Hispanics, especially Hispanic males, do not respond well to female authority figures.

There's a lot of hypocrisy in the 'cultural diversity' movement in academe, and it carries over into secular affirmative action policies as well. Not to mention that university politics are often petty, ego-driven and mean-spirited.

Posted by: theperegrine at August 21, 2003 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

University of North Carolina School of Law - a super conservative school in a super conservative state, right?

There were 93 law faculty, full and part time in the three-year period studied.

There was 1 registered republican. The remainder were democrat or green.

Those are the numbers, draw your own conclusion.

Posted by: Blackavar at August 21, 2003 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh sorry, I forgot one other thing.

There is a possibility that hasn't been raised, I believe, in the comments above. There was a recent Berkeley study which indicated that conservatism is a mental disease.

Again, draw your own conclusions.

Discuss.

Posted by: Blackavar at August 21, 2003 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

I can relate to where John Lemon is coming from, based on my own experience with UC Santa Cruz. I was there during GWI.
I can also relate from the other side as an engineer in Silicon Valley over the last couple years. We had an engineer who opposed GWII. He wasn't discriminated against, but he did raise his voice on more than one occaision.

There are several campuses on the west coast where any form of 'conservatism' is frowned upon. My understanding is that UCSC is not the most extreme.

John did not ask for this discussion to take place. He was off in his own place, mostly doing his own thing. Various people here have seen it proper to call him a liar and various other names because his experience does not match their own.

If there is someone who knows every department in every west coast university, I'd be happy to hear their thoughts. Short of that, the most anyone can say is "Not in any department I know."

Posted by: Dishman at August 21, 2003 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

'I can relate to where John Lemon is coming from, based on my own experience with UC Santa Cruz.'

No, you can't. Lennon claimed that somebody was rejected for tenure specifically b/c of being a conservative. You point out the obvious fact that colleges are more liberal than conservative. The one does not mean the other.

Posted by: thomas at August 21, 2003 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

John Lemon.

Quick question: since your blog indicates you've spoken publicly at GOP events and have been spotted by young people (presumably students) at these events, how is it that you think having a fake name on a website will prevent you from suffering academic discrimination within your department? I don't get it. It would seem like your "secret" is already out of the bag.

Best of luck to you in your department -- it's a shame you have to watch what you say so much. That's obviously not right. (Although I do admit not believing you've been "constantly screamed at" by your colleagues because of your politics. That suggests mental instability -- and not discriminatory actions -- on the part of your fellow faculty members.)

Posted by: Jim E. at August 21, 2003 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is a long thread, but I'll contribute my two cents for whatever they're worth.

Any liberal who's posted here about "whining" conservative academics, please try the following thought experiment:

You've chosen a field to which politics should be irrelevant. And in this field, essentially everyone senior to you, everyone in your department, everyone with make-or-break power over your career, is a conservative. A good number of them, the ones you deal with most, are Ann Coulter-loving Michael Savage listeners. All the others are more reasonable in tone, but essentially agree with them in substance.

They bring up politics frequently--you never do. They express their hatred and abiding contempt for liberals, not just liberal views but the people who hold them, either not knowing or not giving a damn that you might be one. At social occasions, you get to listen to their conspiracy theories, attributing all manner of murder and treason to people who hold the views you do, just because they hold the views you do.

Oh, but they like YOU. They'd never hold your views against you. I mean, you'd be paranoid to even consider it, right? Just because they passionately hate everyone else who holds your views, doesn't mean you'll ever have anything to worry about. Show me the proof that that's ever been a factor. As long as you're not obnoxious about it, you'll be fine!

Posted by: JPS at August 21, 2003 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

blink.
"No, you can't."
I'm sorry, I fail to understand who appointed you judge of my feelings.

Posted by: Dishman at August 21, 2003 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

The University of North Carolina is probably the most liberal public school in the state of North Carolina, located in the most liberal town (Chapel Hill) in the most liberal area (the Research Triangle) of the most liberal state in the South.


IOW, you don't have a damn clue what you're talking about.

Posted by: Informed at August 21, 2003 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

I hear people making statements based on behavior in Texas or North Carolina. It's not necessarily valid to extend those experiences to the west coast.

Posted by: Dishman at August 21, 2003 01:16 PM | PERMALINK

You don't argue with my point that statistical disparity is a major method of proof in racial discrimination cases. I take it that you do not believe that statistical disparity is particularly good evidence in racial discrimination cases? Or would that be an unfair characterization of your position?

Statistical disparity, in my opinion(and apparently the opinion of the EEOC) can be good evidence of racial discrimination, but obviously it can't be viewed in a vacuum. Other factors should be taken into account, such as the racial makeup of the surrounding community. Charging a company in Vermont with racial discrimination in hiring because they don't have at least 15% minorities, or whatever, when the state only has 5%(I don't really know) to me seems ridiculous.

But it doesn't work for political affiliation, because how do you define "conservative" or "liberal" for that matter? It's constantly evolving and subjective. But if you're black, that's usually much easier to identify(unless you're Michael Jackson). The only way you'd have a good argument would be if a college looked at party registration, and decided they weren't granting tenure to registered Republicans no matter how qualified.

As for Johnson, the person who posted it above noted that he actually received the full tenure, and liberals were also against the attempt to deny it to him, so that's not a great example. Everything else I'm seeing is just stereotypes based on geography("conservatives are blackballed at California universities" or some such), hypotheticals, rumor, innuendo, anonymous stories which could easily be lies, etc.

Posted by: Ringo Mountbatten at August 21, 2003 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/06/29/noxf29.xml

If we can have a professor discriminating against a student for being Israeli, is it that far fetched to think that the same happens due to one's political position? I would assume that when someone in academia is discriminating against a certain group, they will use other criteria to justify it. Rare will be the occasion when a clear cut act of discrimination has occured.

Posted by: Cory H. at August 21, 2003 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ringo,

Here's a little help from your friend.

The problem with using statistical disparity to prove racial discrimination in academic hiring is that the sample size is so small that the standard errors become so large and statistical significance is impossible to achieve. Each unit needs to be evaluated separately and they only go through a few discreet searches for particular specialties once a year.

And I don't mind if you sing out of tune.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

JPS,

Well put. Thank you. I couldn't have expressed it better.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 02:44 PM | PERMALINK

Jim E. writes:
"Quick question: since your blog indicates you've spoken publicly at GOP events and have been spotted by young people (presumably students) at these events, how is it that you think having a fake name on a website will prevent you from suffering academic discrimination within your department? I don't get it. It would seem like your "secret" is already out of the bag."

Surprisingly it is not and I know this for a fact. I actually do research that should put me in the far left category, so everyone assumes stuff about me. (BTW, I consistently receive solicitations to Mother Jones, American Spectator, etc. at my office address. I even received free subscriptions to these without asking. Nothing from National Review.)

My students that know about me haven't blabbed to my knowledge as I'm pretty sure that I would hear from a few colleagues about it.

I do try to keep my blog anonymous as I like to talk about things that are not kosher in academics. It is a personal, not a work, blog. My work blog is called a "lecture."

Also, did I ever actually write that my colleagues are "constantly screaming at me"? Huh. Go figure. I actually like most of them personally and I am well liked as well. I'm not as sour as my name implies.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 02:50 PM | PERMALINK

The "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition" study is fun stuff. Whatever the ultimate merits/defects of the study, I'm sure enjoying the hissyfit over it. Would Jonah Goldberg et al feel better if it had been paid for by the Pioneer Fund?

Posted by: spacetoast at August 21, 2003 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

"No, you can't. Lennon claimed that somebody was rejected for tenure specifically b/c of being a conservative. "

First, it is Lemon, as in the fruit. Second, I never claimed somebody was rejected for tenure because of being conservative. Ever! I merely stated that someone mentioned to me that Republicans won't get tenure in my department. I proved them wrong, even though they don't seem to know it yet. And I still have another level of promotion to go through.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 02:57 PM | PERMALINK

Dishman writes:

"John did not ask for this discussion to take place. He was off in his own place, mostly doing his own thing. Various people here have seen it proper to call him a liar and various other names because his experience does not match their own."

Thanks Dish! Just imagine if some of these folks were my colleagues!!!

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 03:00 PM | PERMALINK

John Lemon,

Thanks for the response. Assuming when and if you get promoted to full professor, will you keep the fake name on your blog? From your tone, it seems like you'd prefer to remain anonymous on your blog anyways, and not just for insurance against departmental problems. I understand people who want to remain anonymous, even if they're not worried about jobs or offending friends or whatever. Just curious. Would you still hide your partisanship in front of your collegues after the promotion?

Also, you expressed wonderment that I quoted you saying you were tired of being "constantly screamed at" by your colleages. I merely quoted from your blog post on either June 8 or June 9, 2003 at 11:02 pm. No biggie. (Informality on blogs if fine, but it sometimes results in hyperbole.)

Posted by: Jim E. at August 21, 2003 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Thanks Dish! Just imagine if some of these folks were my colleagues!!!"

And just imagine if your colleagues read where you wrote that they were constantly screaming at you!!! (A statement you've now said is incorrect.)

My point is people spout off on comments sections to blogs (or on their own blogs) in ways they never would to someone's face. Wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: Jim E. at August 21, 2003 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

spc67:
"...you'd have to show that conservative candidates were hired at lower rate, not just that fewer conservatives were hired)."
There is a very strong analogy there it seems to me
Not at all. To put this in overly simplistic terms: if you get three liberal applicants for every conservative applicant, and they are hired at the same rate, you will end up with three liberal professors for every conservative professor. You'd have to show that conservative have a lower proportional success rate to show a hiring bias. That's simple math.

"The argument is whether being a conservative will, in and of itself, get you denied tenure. Frankly, I doubt it."
I have no idea. My own anecdotal experience at Swarthmore (undergrad), St. Joe's, Villanova and Penn (grad courses, and for fun), over the past 20 years is that the dramatic underrepresentation of conservatives in humanities faculties come from somewhere. I suspect, but cannot and will never be able to, prove the kind of bias Kevin is describing. Nor can anyone prove another cause IMHO.
Well, I do have some idea. I watched hiring decisions at my graduate institution, participated in the job market with my peers, and have been on a few hiring committees. For the most part, political affiliation simply doesn't come up with initial hires. If you're sitting at a convention interviewing 30 candidates at 30-minute intervals, you have a lot more important things to ask about than someone's political views -- e.g. dissertaion topic and progress, teaching ideas, etc. This could come up during a campus visit, but I can recall exactly one such question during more than half a dozen campus visits. In that case, it was from a mildly conservative faculty member who inferred from my dissertation topic that I might be conservative. My politics are not so easily pigeonholed, but I'm not the sort of conservative she was thinking of... and it didn't seem to affect her view of me at all.

Once upon a time, the general political outlook of the historical profession was what Samuel Eliot Morrison described as "a sensible conservatism." That started to change fairly quickly in the 1960s, largely because the new hires were predominantly liberal. They still are, so unless you advocate hiring from the ranks of conservative grad students at a rate disproportionate to their overall numbers, you will continue to have more liberal historians until the applicant pool changes.

Frankly, I think it's fairly common to consciously include a women, or a minority candidate, or even a conservative in the initial applicant pool. That allows someone to get a foot in the door, and insures that their application will be looked at carefully. After that, merit and a whole bunch of fairly eccentric factors come into play.

One final point. This whole argument seems overly reductionistic to me. For one thing, large numbers of people are not simply liberal or conservative. For another thing, and more importantly, there are all sorts of other factors that may play a role in how a professor approaches teaching and research topics: the part of the country or the world you come from, an urban, suburban or rural upbringing, what sort of household you grew up in (wealth, social class, etc.), religious affiliation (or none), presence or absence of quantitative ability, physical handicaps, etc., etc., and yes... political outlook. If my school is looking to hire someone who works on late imperial China, the fact that they grew up in the countryside, or write poetry, or are a Buddhist, or prefer literature to mathematics is a much more interesting point than whether they like George Bush or think we should publicly finance vouchers for private schools.

Posted by: Keith at August 21, 2003 03:32 PM | PERMALINK

Keith, you write "To put this in overly simplistic terms: if you get three liberal applicants for every conservative applicant, and they are hired at the same rate, you will end up with three liberal professors for every conservative professor. You'd have to show that conservative have a lower proportional success rate to show a hiring bias."

That kind of thinking will get you a nasty fine from the EEOC if you apply it to hiring minorities.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at August 21, 2003 03:49 PM | PERMALINK

That kind of thinking will get you a nasty fine from the EEOC if you apply it to hiring minorities.

a) See my long-ass post above for my opinions on this analogy.

b) I threw out a question in passing that I'd like to repeat: What are the EEOC's mandates regarding employment of minorities? Is it a requirement that every company have a minority? Some minorities? A non-trivial fraction? A proportion representative of the population as a whole? A proportion reflective of the applicants? An application process that makes no overt mention of race? An application process that is "demonstrably" color-blind, whatever that might mean? I have no idea, but I'm now vaguely curious.

Posted by: Anarch at August 21, 2003 04:18 PM | PERMALINK

It looks as if my previous message used up a lot of space mainly repeating ideas already presented by Georg Heimdal, JW, and Emma. That's what I get for not reading all the comments before writing my own.

Sebastian:
(1) I think your comment immediately above is incorrect.

(2) You write:
If the problem with anti-conservative discrimination is that we can't determine who is conservative, I guess we have a fairly serious problem.
John Lemon seems to be saying that his colleagues, who work with him every day, have indeed been unable to determine this.

(3) AFAIK, K.C. Johnson isn't a conservative, and the stupid opposition to his promotion and tenure were based on (probably imaginary) behavioral indiscretions, not political affiliation.

Posted by: Keith at August 21, 2003 04:38 PM | PERMALINK

Mark S:
Diplomatic history positions are eliminated and thus fewer such courses are offered. The fewer courses in this subfield are then more likely to be taught by someone who wrote their dissertation on the power implications of gender discrimination in 17th century witchcraft trials.
In my experience, this is simply false. You're right that this isn't a chicken-and-egg phenomenon, because in my experience enrollments per class and overall drop first, and only then does the selection of new hires alter the composition of the faculty.
When I was at the University of Alabama, new hires were allocated largely according to departmental enrollments (i.e. if two sociology professors retired, sociology would not get two new hires if their number of majors and class enrollments had been dwindling). When I was in grad school, economic history classes enrolled far fewer undergrads than most other history classes. Unless that changes, it's pretty likely that when one of the economic history professors retires, the next hire will be in a different sub-field, as long as that doesn't reduce the total number to zero.

Your example is an interesting one. Power and gender were in fact very important aspects of the New England witchcraft trials (unusually large numbers of widows who had inherited property and become economically independent were tried). Nonetheless, it's incredibly unlikely that someone who had written a dissertation on this topic would be assigned to teach the "fewer courses in this subfield" of diplomatic history... since there's precious little overlap between the witch trials and diplomacy.

Twenty years ago, you could have argued that institutional history positions were on the way out. Then the subfield adopted new research approaches, grad students found it more interesting (encouraged by advisors, in many cases), and lo and behold! the field is pretty vital today. A lot of students see diplomatic history as pursuing virtually the same research as a couple of generations ago, and few of them -- at least at the big programs that produce Ph.D.s who will actually get jobs -- find this interesting enough to justify 5 to 7 years of hard work. But who knows what diplomatic history will look like in 2020. I don't, and neither do you.

On a happier note, I agree almost totally with your 8:25 post re: competent/incompetent vs left/right. Gaddis and LeFeber are both excellent historians. Ernst Kantorowicz produced perhaps the best book I've ever read, and I have absolutely no idea what his politics were. Moreover, I don't care. I think that's a pretty typical attitude.

Posted by: Keith at August 21, 2003 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

"You've chosen a field to which politics should be irrelevant."

This is an extremely wierd assumption for a history career.

BTW, has anyone noticed that in the private sector comparable to academia - professional whatzits - are overwhelmingly liberal too?

Maybe while we're at it we can up the liberal count in the business schools! Christ, this is a stupid discussion.

Posted by: Jason McCullough at August 21, 2003 06:02 PM | PERMALINK

As an update, after I blogged on this yesterday, John Lemon found the post and commented. It was, I think, somewhat more interesting than his comments here. FYI.

Posted by: Emma at August 21, 2003 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

From Ringo (8:57 AM): I'm still waiting for someone to show me one real example of a Republican/conservative being denied tenure or not hired because of political affiliation. So far I've seen none, and there are obviously no reliable studies on the issue.

Ringo, still hopeful (1:50 PM); As for Johnson, the person who posted it above noted that he actually received the full tenure, and liberals were also against the attempt to deny it to him, so that's not a great example. Everything else I'm seeing is just stereotypes based on geography("conservatives are blackballed at California universities" or some such), hypotheticals, rumor, innuendo, anonymous stories which could easily be lies, etc.

OK, more lies, innuendo, and stereotypes:

Conservative Professor Denied Tenure Wins Appeal

A professor at a Massachusetts College is speaking out after being denied tenure because of his conservative views.

Thirty-six-year-old economics professor Jim Miller has been teaching at Smith College for seven years now. However, it was not until last December that he realized that he had been discriminated against because of his political beliefs. While Miller was reading letters from the members of his department who had voted against giving him tenure, one very specific criticism caught his attention.

Miller observed that some of his colleagues did not care for his teaching, while others had problems with his scholarship. However, one letter referred to an article he wrote for the National Review Online, in which he had criticized colleges for not hiring conservatives.

"Someone cited [that] article and said she was disturbed by the things I had written. But the odd thing was that I wrote things that most conservatives would agree with, so in essence she was disturbed that I was a conservative," Miller says.

After being denied tenure in a five-to-three vote, Miller appealed to the Smith College grievance committee. The five-member committee upheld the appeal, unanimously ruling that two members of Miller's department had violated his academic freedom.

I assume this example doesn't count either, I am just not sure why.

This article (short reg. req'd) gives more details:

Two of the letters explaining no votes in Miller's case refer to criticisms he has made of academia, though neither gives this as a main reason for a no vote. One letter cites part of his book Game Theory at Work, and the other cites an article he wrote for National Review Online entitled "Campus Colors."

The latter states, "I would also refer the committee to a piece included in Jim's 'Journalistic Articles' packet: the Guest Comment on NRO entitled 'Campus Colors,' in which Jim says, among other things, that 'professors are mostly left wing,' that '(t)he large number of non-U.S. citizens in American colleges necessarily makes these schools less patriotic,' and that '(p)ractically the only way for a women's-studies professor to get a lifetime college appointment is for her to contribute to the literature on why America is racist, sexist, and homophobic.' I find it extremely disturbingly [sic] that this could be Jim's image of academia."

"The person wasn't disturbed that it was poorly written or illogically argued, but rather she was disturbed by the conservative political views expressed in the article," Miller said. "This article is criticizing colleges for being politically correct. ... This was used as a reason to fire me. I consider that an absolute violation of my academic freedom."


Apparently, the school ultimately agreed.

And here is the offending article itself.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at August 21, 2003 08:16 PM | PERMALINK

Jim E. queries:

"Thanks for the response. Assuming when and if you get promoted to full professor, will you keep the fake name on your blog? From your tone, it seems like you'd prefer to remain anonymous on your blog anyways, and not just for insurance against departmental problems. I understand people who want to remain anonymous, even if they're not worried about jobs or offending friends or whatever. Just curious. Would you still hide your partisanship in front of your collegues after the promotion?"

I guess, if it is relevant. As I am more active in the GOP these days, I guess the door is partially open.

And then ponders:

"My point is people spout off on comments sections to blogs (or on their own blogs) in ways they never would to someone's face. Wouldn't you agree?"

You bet. Ain't the Internet great!

And as for the "constantly screaming at me," I cannot for the life of me remember that post. I will have to search it out.

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 09:23 PM | PERMALINK

I found the "constantly screamed at" reference. I probably used that phrasing more as hyperbole than as an actual fact. Most of the time, I don't see my colleagues as we are either in the classroom or writing (or blogging).

I think my frame of mind there related more to the fact that academics are hyper-critical of everything. Rarely during a colloquium or at a conference do you hear somebody saying, "hey, that's a pretty neat idea." There is always something constantly wrong. Granted, this makes for better research, but it is also very grating.

Funny the things we say on blogs. You got me. :-(

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

As an addendum to the last comment, I should note that I actually do like almost all of my colleagues personally and I am generally liked. I think I'm kind of the "class clown" of the department -- I usually generate at least one laugh per faculty meeting (often the only one).

Posted by: John Lemon at August 21, 2003 09:32 PM | PERMALINK

Tom Maguire:

You're "not sure" why the Miller case might not count, after reading the article? Gee whiz, maybe it's because Miller makes unsupported claims critical of academia in his NRO piece that several conservatives I know would not agree with, and would indeed find a disturbing view of academia. Miller's take on this is frankly quite bizarre: "This article is criticizing colleges for being politically correct. ... This was used as a reason to fire me. I consider that an absolute violation of my academic freedom."

How about this: Criticizing colleges for being "unpatriotic" because they employ large numbers of foreign nationals relies on a strange understanding of patriotism (and untested assumptions about those foreign nationals). Claiming that the only way a women's studies professor can get a "lifetime appointment" (i.e. tenure?) is "to contribute to the literature on why America is racist, sexist, and homophobic" relies on silly stereotypes, ignorance of women's studies, and a cynical and stupid view of tenure appointments. And finally, being denied tenure is not exactly the same thing as being fired.

These are clownish, Rush Limbaugh views of academia, hardly the informed and accurate views you'd expect from someone with a serious academic position. It would be one thing to claim that these were simplifications aimed at the NRO readership, but it's quite another for Miller to state: "the odd thing was that I wrote things that most conservatives would agree with, so in essence she was disturbed that I was a conservative." Well, no.

Look, Miller is free to write what he wants, but if you criticize your employer, make sweeping claims that you can't possibly support, and then submit a written version of those criticisms to a panel whose sole function is to decide whether to continue or terminate your employment, then not only should you be unsurprised if you get kicked out the door, you're also a damned fool.

I'll leave the following thought experiment to you:
Suppose an equally clownish piece about Aaron Aardvark's military R&D laboratory (see his 5:44 PM post) is published in T.A.P., full of stupid stereotypes about conservatives and the military (e.g. it says the only way an African American could get ahead in the military would be to act like Stepin Fetchit), and that the liberal who wrote this piece includes it in a packet of "journalistic articles" he submits to a review board at the lab as part of his attempt to get a promotion. Now imagine that his promotion is denied, and one of the reviewers, as part of a letter explaining a no vote, cited this article and said "I find it extremely disturbingly [sic] that this could be Jim's image of the military." Would you accept a defense of the writer vs. the lab that rested on the idea that "the odd thing was that I wrote things that most liberals would agree with, so in essence she was disturbed that I was a liberal"? I think not.

For goodness sake, I'm sure you can do better than this. Stop goofing around and bring your A-game!

Posted by: Keith at August 22, 2003 02:08 AM | PERMALINK

PS The above assumes that Miller is correct when he asserts that it was his criticisms of academia that let to the tenure committee's decision. The Smith College newspaper story linked to by Tom M includes the selections he highlighted, where the two letters explaining "no" votes mention criticism of academia but don't give this as a major reason for the "no" votes.

Nonetheless, the grievance committee accepted that these criticisms violated Miller's academic freedom. That's not the same thing as saying that he was denied tenure because he's a conservative, but they voted to overturn the initial decision and give him tenure. If he's a good scholar, then good for him!

Posted by: Keith at August 22, 2003 02:30 AM | PERMALINK

"Lemon" is not without a point but its not a very storng one. As a veteran of the academy and a pretty traditional liberal, I've seen this first hand. Hell, the right wing Bradley foundation paid for part of my disseration as an effort to either support good scholarship, bring me to the dark side or cement into place one of their star professor/conservative thinkers who was on faculty.

I've seen conservative job candidates get attacked for family association if nothing else. I've seen radicals and marxist job candidates get attacked for taking their department in the "wrong" direction. In political science at least, this can be significant stuff. But it goes in both directions. Also, it is minimal compared to the fury invested into methodological approaches - one of the things that drove me out and will keep me from going back to political science at least is the ridiculous culture war over game theory, quantiative analyis, qualitiative etc. This was the primary dimension of the department I studied in tearing itself apart.

Posted by: riume at August 22, 2003 07:00 AM | PERMALINK

IOP, I put the facts out there, that UNC Law profs run 92:1 Dem+Green to Republican.

If stating the facts that way is ignorant... well, then call me an uneducated moron.

That school, by the way, is funded by state money. If it is improper under the First Amendment for a state to engage in content-based or "viewpoint" discrimination, is the 92:1 ratio evidence of anything? Or are conservatives just too mentally diseased to be good lawyers, as our Berkeley pals might conclude?

As for the EEOC's standards, the workforce should contain something approaching the representation of qualified minorities in the surrounding area.

This works fairly simply. If the job is working as a CPA, and the firm is hiring 10 accountants, and the general population is 60:40 White: Black, the firm isn't necessarily engaging in discrimination if it hires 7 White CPAs and only 3 Blacks. The more important number is the ratio of qualified CPAs in the pool of potential employees. If CPAs within a 30 mile radius are at 60% Black and 30% White, then the firm ought to wind up with 6 Black CPAs and 4 White CPAs, and if it doesn't there must have been discrimination according to disparate impact theory. It doesn't matter if Black accountants as a group prefer to work in government in that area, or if White accountants as a group prefer to seek internal comptroller positions rather than firm positions; and the employer's good or bad motives are irrelevant under the theory.

Simply put, disparate impact is discrimination.

And if you don't buy that, then you are one of the old fashioned folks who believes that discriminatory intent (or the lack thereof) is relevant.

Posted by: Blackavar at August 22, 2003 09:21 AM | PERMALINK

In law, the lack of available minority candidates is a defense. In practice a small company will be forced to spend $100,000+ defending itself to prove a lack of available minority candidates. So in practice you have to keep minority hires in line with the population even if you have to stretch qualifications very far in order to find 'appropriate' candidates so you don't end up with an imbalance. Disparate impact used to be used to bolster a case of discriminatory intent. Nowadays it is pretty much all the proof that is required.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at August 22, 2003 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Having recently graduated with a B.A. from Reed College (mathmatics, religion minor), my experience was that a distinction between area/direction of research and political beliefs should be made. On the whole, my professors were extreme traditionalists who would never have budged an inch in order to follow trendy academic fads. On the other hand, a large number were literally reduced to tears when Bush was "elected." This is purely anecdotal evidence, but I think it suggests a secondary flaw in conservative arguments like Horowitz' that academia is too liberal.

That is, academia can (potentially) be dominated by liberals without doing injustice to "conservative" areas of study. And isn't that really the concern associated with having overly liberal professors in the liberal arts? It's not as if professors have excessive political power that necessitates that kind of diversity. After all, think tanks ensure that academia is no longer the only source for academic and pseudo-academic publishings.

Posted by: OmerosPeanut at August 22, 2003 08:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I've been a "legionnaire of academe" for over 30 years, including my own education. Three west coast institutions.

In an earlier post, spc67 reduces the argument down to two points:
"1)that conservatives are inherently failures as academics (doubtful) or 2) that conservatives are uninterested in pursuing academia as a career (plausible).

This conservative viewpoint fails is to take into account the liklihood that many conservatives that wish to join the ranks of acadaemia simply cannot defend their political positions without resorting to dishonest tactics that academics can see right through.

#2 is certainly valid, but I claim that #1 is also valid to an extent.

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