by John T. Plecnik
American Repiorter Correspondent
March 1, 2005
WHY LIBERALS DON'T TOLERATE CAMPUS CONSERVATIVES
LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- Regardless of age, we have all heard the phrase, "First Amendment Rights," bandied about. Free speech has been the rallying cry of the liberal elite since the '60s, and every time violent protesters are beaten back by police or cordoned off from a rally, the ACLU comes a-calling.
However, the same team of trial lawyers, rebel billionaires and Deaniacs turn a blind eye toward the abuses of their academic brethren. America's colleges and universities are anything but free speech zones. Contrary to their mantra of universal tolerance, Stalinist professors and administrators see intellectual diversity as a disease.
Unpopular viewpoints, like a belief in absolute truth or the Republican Party, are actively discouraged.
The reality of liberal bias on campus is so overwhelming that columnists and commentators are forced to choose between countless illustrations. Whether examining the anti-Christian bent at the University of North Carolina, where one student was labeled a sexist bigot for asserting his personal belief that homosexuality is immoral and Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity was derecognized as a student organization for refusing to admit non-Christians, or the age-old liberalism of Berkeley, where researchers found that conservatism is a disease shared by Hitler and Ronald Reagan, the bias is clear: Liberal professors see conservative beliefs as vermin and our universities as their own, private roach motels.
Ideally, conservative minds check in, but they don't check out.
Our professors have at least four years to scare us Democrat, and they seldom waste an opportunity. Studies show that liberals hire liberals; the faculty at elite institutions like Duke and Yale fall to the Left of Hillary Clinton. More frightening, however, is the condition of our average campus. Along with the elites, most state schools are stacked with Democrats and Socialists.
Perhaps conservatives are just too stupid for academia, as Dr. Robert Brandon, chairman of Duke's philosophy department, once asserted. Myself, I tend to believe that hiring committees prefer "fellow travelers." And as for self-selection, I think most Right-wingers are smart enough to see the "CONSERVATIVES NEED NOT APPLY" sign hanging beneath the ivy.
Of course, campuses are larger than the classroom and the message of liberal professors might be drowned out by inappropriate speakers. That's why our faculty and administrators are careful to allocate the lion's share of funding to invite still more liberals. After all, if not for men like Ward Churchill, how would students come to understand the innate evil of America? A true conservative would never think to compare 9/11 victims to Nazis!
However, unfortunately for our Stalinist friends, control over class time and tuition only goes so far. Outspoken students might still convince their peers that John Kerry and Karl Marx don't have all the answers. Darn that First Amendment. It was so useful for flag burning.
Some universities try to institute campus speech codes, limiting dialogue to their understanding of political correctness. Most just lambaste conservative students. At UNC-Charlotte, the resident College Republican chapter recently hosted their third annual "affirmative action" bake sale. Treats were offered at lower prices to traditionally recognized minorities, protesting how "affirmative action universities" accept minorities with comparatively lower academic credentials.
Kristen McManus, UNC-Charlotte's Associate Director for Academic Initiatives for Mentoring Students, was quick to label her students as racist. Titling the communiqué, "Racist Practice at UNCC," McManus e-mailed the press and warned them of the College Republicans' "egregious methodology." After this slur, will members of the UNC-Charlotte College Republicans remain comfortable coming to McManus for academic assistance? Would you feel safe around someone who called you a racist?
All considered, however, campus conservatives shouldn't feel too badly. The Stalinists will even cannibalize a Clintonite for speaking out of turn. When President Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard University speculated aloud that "innate differences" between the sexes might explain why fewer women succeed in careers of math and science, he was attacked by feminists and academics alike.
The former treasury secretary has been threatened with a vote of no confidence by Harvard's faculty and thus far, no one is willing to let him forget his flub. I find it ironic that the presidents of Stanford, MIT and Princeton are in an uproar over their colleague's mere speculation, when none of them were offended by the Berkeley study that labeled conservatives as mentally ill.
Perhaps this sentiment is just a product of my diseased, conservative mind, but I get the feeling that academia isn't even fooling itself anymore. After all, if professors pretend that free speech rights exist on campus, someone might try to exercise them.
John T. Plecnik (JTP) is a 21-year-old law student at Duke University and a Featured Columnist at The Conservative Voice (www.theconservativevoice.com), Lincoln Tribune, a weekly newspaper in Lincolnton, N.C., and various other online and print publications. Write him at John.Plecnik@law.duke.edu.