Liberal Bias on Campus

by John Eberhard
01/29/04

In my last article, I described the overwhelming liberal bias that is seen today in the mainstream news media, meaning the major newspapers and the TV news. Luckily, there is also a booming conservative presence in talk radio, on the Internet, on cable TV (Fox News), and in the bookstores, to help balance things out. But if you only read the newspapers and watch TV news, like many people do, you’re really only going to get one side of many important issues today.

In this article I’m going to talk about another danger and area of potential propaganda, namely the liberal bias in our colleges and universities, specifically in the faculties.

I have four kids, the oldest 14. So college concerns loom for me in the not too distant future. Paying for it, of course, plus the quality and character of what we’re going to get for our money.

One would hope that in sending your kids to college, that they would be exposed to a variety of knowledge and ideas, that they would gain valuable skills that would serve them well in the job marketplace and in the workplace, that they would be taught how to think, and that they would be taught leadership skills.

In studies having to do with things like government, economics, sociology, and history, one would hope for a balance. After all, we do have a two-party system of government in America today, and the differences between the two parties couldn’t possibly be more distinct and evident than they are today.

As I reported in one of my earlier articles, a recent Gallup poll showed that 40% of Americans today consider themselves conservatives, 40% consider themselves as moderates, and 20% consider themselves liberals. Of course the moderates in the middle can tend to swing either way on a variety of issues.

Percentages of Ideology in College Faculty

Now let’s take a look at the percentage of liberalism and conservatism in the faculties on college campuses. A 2002 survey by pollster Frank Luntz of Ivy League professors found that only 3% are Republicans while 57% are Democrats. 84% voted for Al Gore in the 2000 election versus 9% for George Bush.

6% of these Ivy League profs said they were "somewhat conservative", while 30% said they were "somewhat liberal" and 34% said they were "liberal". That’s 64% liberal or somewhat liberal versus 6% somewhat conservative (note that none said they were "conservative"). That’s a 10 to 1 margin.

In May of 2003, 67% of Americans favored a tax cut, while a whopping 80% of Ivy League professors in the 2002 survey disagreed with any tax cuts.

11% of Americans agree that the federal government owes blacks some sort of reparations for the harms caused by slavery. 40% of Ivy Leaguer profs think so.

In October 03, 70% of Americans agreed that the government should spend more money on a defense system against nuclear missiles. Only 14% of Ivy Professors agreed. 74% disagreed.

21% of Ivy Professors believe that the media is liberal biased, versus 45% of the American public in a recent Gallup poll.

Given the choice of the editorial page of the New York Times (perhaps the most liberal newspaper in America) versus the Wall Street Journal (perhaps the most conservative), 72% of Ivy Professors said they agree more with the editorial page of the Times and 5% said they agree with the Journal.

That’s a pretty stacked deck on the side of liberal thought in Ivy League colleges. Other studies in recent years have shown a similar, overwhelming liberal bias in college faculties, and discrimination and denial of tenure to conservative professors, not to mention an atmosphere of enforced agreement aimed at the students.

And the point is, if you send your kids to college, especially in the areas of liberal arts and the social sciences, politically they are basically only going to get one side of the story.

Sites like Accuracy in Academia (www.academia.org), Campus Report Online (www.campusreportonline.net), the Collegiate Network (www.collegiatenetwork.org), and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (www.isi.org), are attempting to catalog this abuse and working to improve education at all levels by bringing about greater balance.

What Causes the Liberal Bias in Colleges?

So this odd situation begs the question – what brings about this strange imbalance in our nation’s colleges? Good question.

There is one fascinating theory on what makes certain individuals drawn to liberal/ socialistic/ communistic thought (they are all just different points in the same spectrum based on the Marxist idea of "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability to pay"), which is advanced by Allan Levite in a booked entitled Guilt, Blame, and Politics. This is a very interesting book although rather difficult to read and full of rather advanced terminology.

The basic premise of the book is that there is a thing called "political guilt," which is brought about in cases where a person perceives a big difference between his station in life and that of the bottom financial rung of society, i.e. the poor. This political guilt is deepened by situations in which the person does not have to work for a living, where his work is easy, or where he is particularly well paid. This guilt can also be brought about where one sees himself as being separate from the working class by factors other than economics, such as education level or by making a living using his mind rather than by his hands.

Levite doesn’t say this, but I’ll add that this situation would also be worsened in any of the sectors of society that are "failed", i.e. where they aren’t fulfilling the functions effectively that they are supposed to be fulfilling, such as psychiatry and psychology, much of government, and an education system that routinely finds students with lower IQs the longer they stay in school.

Levite states "Academics, especially in the less worldly areas such as art, literature, and the social sciences, may also be affected by their own remoteness from the mundane environment of production and commerce, as well as by the greater extent to which their erudition separates and shelters them from the rest of the world."

"Scholars in the humanities and the social sciences are even further removed from the workaday world than are other academics, and are therefore more likely to favor social leveling."

"College students and graduates can be expected to differ in their exposure to guilt according to the extent to which their major field appears to make a needed contribution to productivity. For this reason, such practical credentials as accounting and engineering degrees will usually provide much more protection from guilt than will degrees in art, music, literature, political science, psychology, journalism, law, history, or philosophy."

Levite also quotes a 1975 survey of university professors and students by Everett Ladd and Seymour Lipset, which found that while 46% of faculties as a whole were rated liberal in the late 1960s, 64% of the social science professors were rated liberal. This compared with 23% of business professors, 24% of engineering professors, and 14% of agriculture professors. At that time 20% of the US public was rated liberal (the same as today). So the level of liberalism of social science professors outnumbered the general population by three to one.

So essentially what Levite is talking about is exchange. If a person feels like he is working hard and exchanging his work for the money he gets, he won’t tend to feel guilty.

But if he grew up in a rich family, is living off an inheritance, is working a cushy job or a job where he gets paid extremely well, or even is working in a field where he doesn’t get his hands dirty, or where the field itself is of less tangible benefit to society, he may feel that there is something unfair about the difference between himself and others.

Per Levite, this person who experiences political guilt will favor methods of redistribution of wealth (welfare, socialistic programs), even if he doesn’t go so far as to give up his own.

I think Levite makes a rather compelling case. Even if you don’t agree with it, it certainly is thought provoking.

Where Do We Go From Here?

So I think the above information makes it pretty clear that the tilt on campuses is decidedly to the left. If we’re looking for a balance, we’re not going to find it. And college age kids, per Levite, are more susceptible to this political guilt because most have not been exposed to much hard work.

When only one point of view is expressed and others are suppressed, we have a potential propaganda situation. And as I mentioned in my last article, that raises the possibility of being manipulated, particularly if you don’t know what’s happening.

So what do we do with our kids? Well, first of all, if your child wants to pursue a profession that requires a college degree, certainly a major part of your responsibility has to be thoroughly researching the schools being considered.

Secondly, it is important to educate your kids on the differences between conservative and liberal, what issues each side supports, and what those issues mean. That way, they’ll be able to spot any bias, see through it, and even fight it.

In my next article I’ll be discussing the overwhelming liberal bias in the entertainment industry.



This article can also be seen on:

IntellectualConservative.com

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