I saw a share of a NYT opinion piece on facebook just now, entitled “Academia’s Rejection of Diversity.”
Despite the sarcastic title, the opinion piece is about the observation that academia does not equally welcome Conservatives into the academic fold, and the author is calling that a lack of diversity.
I couldn’t more strongly disagree with the arguments in this article. We presumably don’t hire too many appropriately-educated serial killers into high education either, but I wouldn’t call that a lack of diversity either. Okay, sorry. I know that’s dramatic, but so is this opinion piece. I wanted to respond to it without highjacking my friend’s facebook post which shares this article. This is just my opinion, as the referenced article is the opinion of that writer. I suggest one read them both.
I’ve had this conversation with many people over the years, and strongly disagree that this is even a valid argument, to call the lack of conservative perspectives represented in higher education a lack of diversity. I’m confident that the alleged lack of diversity that results from not having too many conservatives in academia, merely reflects the collective hope that academia maintain the minimum common sense essential for the potential for scientific rigor. Too many Conservative goals are based on denial of science.
It’s good to hear opposing viewpoints when doing so can strengthen and refine one’s arguments, true. My own friends are often surprised to hear that I listen to right wing conservative talk radio when I’m in my car. I listen so that I can always be attending to why I believe what I do. I wouldn’t want them teaching my kids. I would want my kids to be prepared to think critically, and creatively solve problems, and then I’d want them to hear what conservatives have to say about how climate change is not real, and other strange opinions.
This is just a personal blog. The inaccuracy of the following points is well-documented. If you honestly think they’re not clearly wrong, leave a comment and I’ll google to get you some solid references and statistics. But really, the Earth is not flat, Black people are not lazier than White people, and climate change is real. This is why I think it’s good to not have too many people with magical thinking teaching and forming America’s future leaders.
1. Conservatives’ non academic idea #1: Help the U.S. economy by building a 2,000 mile long wall, scooping up like 10 million people, and dropping them on the other side of that wall. [A different , not trumped up version of this conservative viewpoint is to simply say that undocumented workers are bad for our economy, that they steal our jobs and drain our budget.]
Why are more conservatives not represented in academia? Well, evacuating ten million people is mathematically impossible, and the need to do so is based on lack of fact. Fact is that undocumented workers in the U.S. grow the economy, and have literally saved Social Security, among other things. For example, Stephen Goss, the Chief Actuary of the SSA said that without the billions of dollars undocumented workers have paid into SS, with no intention of ever getting anything back, SSA would have been short of payout power starting in 2009 (1). There are many, many more myths about the so-called illegals and how they take our jobs and drain our economy. These are myths because from an accounting reality they are untrue. Denying economic science is essential to conservative viewpoints. This is why I argue that it’s a good thing that we don’t teach young students to do the same.
2. Conservatives’ non academic idea #2: fracking is good, climate change is not real, GMO food is good, etc.
Again, such a profound and nearly insane denial of science, if taught on a large scale, would render our future scientists and leaders laughable in the world.
3. Conservatives’ non academic idea #3: Guns are good and if more law-abiding citizens had guns on their sides we would be better off.
4. Conservatives’ non academic idea #4: Spending money to put more police in public schools is a good investment, whereas spending money to return some of the school psychologists and guidance counselors is a bad investment.
5. Conservatives’ non academic idea #5: The gays are destroying our families.
6. Conservatives’ non academic idea #6: Funding early childhood interventions is a waste of resources; funding the for-profit prison system, and supporting the school to prison pipeline is a good thing.
7. Conservatives’ non academic idea #7: Healthcare should be tied to employment.
8. Conservatives’ non academic idea #8: Working families who cannot pay rent need to work harder and try harder to pull themselves out of poverty like we did; their social situation is a result of their own poor choices; we should not help them; we should not ensure they can make livable wages; we should accept that they are going to starve no matter how hard they work, then shame them for their situation and accuse them of feeling entitled to something more.
9. Conservatives’ non academic idea #9: There’s no implicit bias in the human mind. Policing is not racially influenced. Having a Black-sounding name makes no difference on a resume because conservatives are colorblind.
10. Conservatives’ non academic idea #10: All sorts of unscientific things about women’s health…
etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
I personally cannot think of a school of thought that is less scholarly, or more lacking in scientific rigor and fundamental common sense, than the conservative platform. Therefore, I am grateful that academia in the United States tends to favor hiring candidates who don’t accept fallacies as truths and who, instead, desire to scrutinize and challenge systems and patterns that lead to such large-scale suffering and oppression.
But that’s just my two cents.