The Conservative Critique of Higher Education Misses the Mark

George Will has an article here https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/higher-education-is-awash-with-hysteria-that-might-have-helped-elect-trump/2016/11/18/a589b14e-ace6-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html in which he caricatures higher education as coddling students, as sheltering them in “safe spaces” from “micro-aggressions” while providing “trigger warnings” of ideas and events that might upset them. In short, it’s hysterical liberals who are responsible for electing Trump, according to Will. This is pure nonsense. Higher education is not too liberal: it’s too beholden to corporate and financial interests and the military-industrial complex, as I explained in this article. Nowadays, higher ed is just another business, with students treated as customers and faculty as providers. And if we’re going to run higher ed as a business, why not the country? If college presidents are hired because they are great at fund raising and have close ties to high finance and big government, why not elect a president whose main claim to fame is making (and losing) money?

George Will gets it exactly wrong: higher ed is not too liberal or too radical, it’s far too obedient and compromised.

Bracing Views

Prius Politics -- Seen at a campus near you! Prius Politics — Seen at a campus near you!

W.J. Astore

I have conservative friends (Yes, I do!) who express disfavor with higher education.  They see higher ed as being in lockstep with liberal/leftist agendas.  Things like gay marriage, aggressive feminism, multiculturalism, and diversity that focuses not on wide-ranging political views but on the politics of gender and race.  They further see higher ed as being unfriendly to conservatives, hostile to organized religion (especially Christianity), and intolerant of alternative views that challenge leftist shibboleths.

There’s truth to this critique.  I’ve been around enough liberal faculty members to recognize a certain collectivism, often manifested by smug superiority, in their treatment of anyone who challenges their views.  So-called Birkenstock Bolsheviks are hardly immune to prejudice, including the refusal of job interviews or the denial of tenure to conservatives.  Such prejudice is especially galling among faculties that pride themselves on tolerance.

But while…

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