Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Liberal Discrimination

Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times has stirred up something of a kerfuffle with a column that admits, and laments, the overwhelming and inexcusable bias in the culture against conservatives and conservative ideas. He writes:
[C]onsider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.
Kristoff goes on to cite studies that show that conservatives are grossly underrepresented on university faculties and adds this:
The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.

Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas,conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.

The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”
It's not just university faculty who are biased against conservative ideas. Former Facebook employees have revealed how Facebook censored conservative news stories and sites so that they wouldn't get circulation.

Liberals will outnumber conservatives as commencement speakers at major colleges this year by a ratio of at least 4 to 1.

The intriguing question about this censorship of, and discrimination against, conservatives, especially conservative evangelicals, is why the left fears them so much that they have to deny them a platform and deny exposure for their ideas. Why do those on the left, despite a massive amount of empirical evidence to the contrary, continue to reinforce to each other the silly, self-serving myth that conservatives are not very bright and that their ideas have been discredited?

Perhaps it's because deep down they know that in a free and open exchange of ideas liberals simply don't stand a chance of convincing open-minded, critical listeners but conservatives do. Folks on the left know that if colleges made it a point to seek ideological balance on campus the same thing would happen to liberal ideas in the classroom as has happened to liberal ideas on talk radio, cable television, and internet news aggregators, all of which became dominated by conservatives almost as soon as conservatives chose to compete in these media.

Liberals suspect that they'll get clobbered in an open competition of ideas so in order to avoid being rejected by the masses they censor conservatism so that the uninformed masses don't realize that there's any alternative to their own ideas.

Which brings me to an irony in the Kristoff column: One person (Steven) was quoted as having declared, in so many words, that conservatives should be censored and discriminated against because they're stupid. Yet it was Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, who repeatedly acknowledged that the Obama administration was able to foist the Affordable Care Act onto the American public because the voters were too stupid to know what was happening to them.

Now which voters was he talking about? It surely wasn't conservative voters who supported Obamacare, and indeed no Republican politician voted for it. All of the ACA's support came from Democrats, i.e. liberals. These are the people, the members of his own party, who the Obama administration's Mr. Gruber, enjoys calling "stupid:"

I wonder if Steven supported Obamacare.