Thursday, August 23, 2007

Maybe the problem's not with academia

Harry at Squaring the Globe points out the overwhelmingly Democratic tilt of political contributions by faculty in Boston area colleges and universities, which looks pretty bad if you're convinced by the tactics of right wing groupthink.

The title has a bit of a problem with it claiming, "No quota for conservatives" which implies that donations to the Republican party are the only metric that can be used to tell if someone is conservative. According to the hacks I have seen approvingly quoted on his site before like Schlafly and Malkin conservative does equal Republican loyalist, so I think it is safe to assume Harry agrees. But of course in the world of right wing (I refuse to call it conservative) ego massaging the fact that the Republican Party has been transformed into something that is many things but not one of them conservative, is unmentionable.

Never is the notion entertained that the reason academics don't give to the Republican Party might be not because there is a problem with academia but with Republicans. It is again just assumed that a good education means ideological diversity (which of course means equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats) and retreats into a form of relativism where each side is equally correct and must be presented. Far be it academia's position to exercise some intellectual authority and maybe try to push new ways of thinking rather than blandly presenting different ones as all equally good. Relativism and diversity are apparently just fine for the Christian Right when it suits their purposes. It remains the case, however, that it is going to be hard to get the most intellectually elite and engaged portion of the population excited about a party whose main tactics include appeals to religious fundamentalism, (John McCain can't even say he would support teaching evolution in high schools) xenophobia, (just see how much the talking heads love to plaster the faces of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes all over the media) truthiness, (Conservapedia) and big government Christian socialism (George W. Bush). Any conservatives you will find in academia are not going to be populists and in abandoning their traditional fiscal policies, conservatives will lose much of the support they ever had.

That right wingers so often make such unquestioning assertions such as this is symptomatic of the lack of nuance underlining their worldview. It is a pathetic type of relativism to complain that one's ideology deserves to be presented simply because it doesn't get heard enough. It is a sad fact that not all ideologies are on equal footing. Creationism does not deserve to be taught along with evolution and it is very possible that the underlining ideology of the current Republican Party does not merit serious discussion. But in the rather Manichean world of the right, if the Republicans aren't getting air time then the Democrats are. Independent thought does not occupy a place of reverence for them.

None of these questions are asked. I don't really know the answers and I haven't done thorough research but i feel qualified to make the last few educated guesses about why the Republicans aren't popular with academics. Unfortunately for most right wingers its easier to just get angry at pie charts.

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