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College Faculty Seldom Hears Opposing Views

January 05, 2003

Re "A Fight for Freedom of Speech," Dec. 27:

Eric Foner and Glenda Gilmore apparently are unaware of the irony in their reference to a "gathering threat to freedom of speech." Having earned a PhD at one of their bastions of free speech and having taught at several universities before going into business, I have been in a position to observe over the last 30 years the unthinking, knee-jerk liberalism that has come to dominate our institutions of higher learning and smother rational dissent from the conservative side.

Recent surveys of dozens of universities across the nation indicate that self-described "liberals" account for at least 90% of the faculty in humanities. The reasons range from the sinister to the fairly innocuous: Call it blacklisting or simply a case of people naturally wishing to hire those who think as they do.

The result in either case is that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for an applicant for a tenure-track position who allows it to be known that his or her views on key issues are conservative to get a teaching job.

Further, college campuses do not permit dissenting speech from outside speakers; when a conservative is invited by some brave soul to speak on campus, the usual speech police march on the administration building to attempt to force a withdrawal of the invitation. Because college administrators are notoriously spineless, this will often succeed. But if it does not, then the liberal rabble-rousers will steal and burn any notices of the speech, including the student newspaper, and then do their best to shout the speaker down. All of this in the name of "tolerance" at the "free marketplace of ideas."

What is the faculty role in all of this? The imbalance between liberal and conservative faculty guarantees that a professor can spend all working life without ever hearing an alternative point of view from a conservative.

It is against this backdrop that Foner and Gilmore ask: "What was our sin that unleashed this assault" from Daniel Pipes? Alas, they will never understand, because to do so would require that they see themselves objectively.

Bill Savage

Orange

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