So let’s read those two “down with identity politics” pieces written by people who don’t need “identity politics.”
First Kristof May 7.
WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.
Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.
That’s a silly observation. It’s a category mistake. Progressives think women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims and so on shouldn’t be systematically excluded from various societal goods simply on the basis of who they are. That has nothing to do with what kind of people progressives seek out as friends and/or political comrades. No, I don’t have to make a point of befriending conservatives or religious believers on the grounds that belief in equal rights entails it.
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.
That could be true, but the way he phrased it is again a mixing of categories. A point of view isn’t necessarily a stigmatization of the opposed view. “Intellectual diversity” isn’t necessarily a good thing, because it depends. There are standards in intellectual work, and those standards filter out people who don’t meet them. That’s as it should be. You don’t want to include charlatans and buffoons and conspiracy-mongers in your “intellectual diversity.” You don’t want to include hacks, either.
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.
Oh, my – that’s an unfortunate set of analogies. Yes, oddly enough, I do have more compassion for war victims and trafficked children than I have for conservative scholars facing purported discrimination. I hope everyone does, including conservative scholars.
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.
No. Conservatives, yes, but evangelical Christians, no. Practicing evangelical Christians can’t contribute to intellectual or scholarly or educational discussion, because that’s not what they do. Diversity does not demand that they be represented on university faculties.
Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).
In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.
Sigh. Again, this is just silly. What if Marxists are more drawn to the social sciences than Republicans are? This isn’t a question of inborn characteristics, it’s a question of acquired tastes and interests.
He does go on to cite actual studies.
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.
But that’s not discrimination in the pejorative sense. Evangelicals have an extra filter, and it’s a filter that screens out much of what is important to disciplines like anthropology and literature. I don’t think we should be treating literalist religion as a mere arbitrary marker when in fact it’s a very substantive view of the world, which can interfere with more thoughtful views of the world. It’s not ideal for an academic.
“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.”
Horseshit. That’s just manipulative. The two are not comparable and we’re not required to treat them as if they were.
Universities should be a hubbub of the full range of political perspectives from A to Z, not just from V to Z. So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.
Should they? Really? Should there be KKK perspectives, Nazi perspectives, ISIS perspectives, Opus Dei perspectives?