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Wanted: conservatives

June 02, 2008

Re "The smog of academic consensus," Opinion, May 29

Although Crispin Sartwell's overall point has merit -- there are not enough conservative voices on American campuses -- much of his argument is simplistic and prone to gross generalizations. That most professors are registered Democrats is no indication they are prone to group-think or dedicated to reproducing "Obama-ism." Some may vote Democratic because they believe the party best represents their values. Others may do so for simple economic reasons, because in recent history Democrats have been more favorable to funding public education. Most important, political ideology and party identification may have little to do with how one teaches a classic text. The great books of political philosophy rarely fit neatly into contemporary American definitions of liberal and conservative.

Michael McLendon

Pasadena

The writer is an assistant professor of political science at Cal State Los Angeles.

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As an English professor with 30 years' experience at a secular humanist and overwhelmingly politically correct, small liberal-arts college, I agree completely with Sartwell's defense of the University of Colorado's move to guarantee more conservatives on its faculty.

I'm strongly for Barack Obama, but I tell my students that Max Weber was right when he said that the best professor is the one who forces his students to question their most deeply held beliefs. In our time, those beliefs are overwhelmingly liberal, relativistic and PC. This means that American colleges and universities are mainly in the business of strengthening unexamined prejudices. Colleges and universities in America have once again become enforcers of orthodoxy. This is not what Socrates had in mind at all.

Fred White

Baltimore

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I had to laugh at Sartwell's suggestion that academics overwhelmingly support Obama because they've "been taught that conservatives are evil idiots." Who needs to be brainwashed into being anti-conservative when the last seven years have been an object lesson in arrogance, deception and incompetence?

Conservatives like to use attacks on George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan to claim that liberals are elitist, but most criticism isn't in the form of ad-hominem digs about their intelligence. Bush's disastrous policies are an extension of Reagan's ideology, and it is the responsibility of academics to point out their failure.

Maeve Wolfenden

Sherman Oaks

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