The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Teaching Your Kids to Hate You

Posted on | May 9, 2013 | 16 Comments

Donald Douglas calls attention to an interesting argument by Bruce Thornton about the “trickle-down” of leftism in education:

We often focus on the ideological biases of the university, where the more lunatic examples of political correctness get the most attention. But in education as in economics, there is a trickle-down effect. The grandees at the elite universities train the PhD’s who go on to second and third tier institutions, where they in turn train the students who get high school and grade school teaching credentials. They also write most of the textbooks that end up in K-12 classrooms. Thus the progressive ideology metastasizes throughout the educational system, determining the curriculum, the textbooks, and the point of view of the teachers. At that level the ideas may be garbled, half-baked, incoherent, and a collection of clichés and slogans. But they are still toxic and effective at transmitting a world-view to impressionable minds.

Please go read the whole thing, because this is exactly right: When I graduated from a state university 30 years ago, the curriculum was not corrupted with “critical theory,” “post-modernism” and other such fashionable nonsense. Our professors were perhaps, on average, a bit more liberal than our parents, but none of our professors were ranting Marxists or other such fringe ideologues.

Sixties radicalism was mainly a phenomenon of elite universities — Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, etc. — and the subsequent vogue of “political correctness” (i.e., cultural Marxism via the Frankfurt School) was likewise manifested mainly at upper-tier schools. However, in recent decades,  this elite radicalism has diffused itself throughout academia. It was a shocking revelation to me a few years ago was when Orit Sklar and Ruth Malhotra had to sue to overturn a speech-code regime (and were demonized by gay and Muslim radicals) at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Freaking Tech? The “North Avenue Trade School,” as Lewis Grizzard derisively called it? If this kind of radicalism had made it all the way to Georgia Tech, surely it was now ubiquitous, and subsequent anecdotal reports (including from my own children) confirm that the humanities and social-science faculties are overwhelmingly radical — not merely “liberal leaning,” but staffed by hard-core leftists — even at small-town community colleges.

Certainly, less than 15% of Ph.D.’s in history and political science granted by American universities in the past 20 years went to anyone who could be accused of having ever voted Republican. Whatever number of kids from Republican backgrounds enroll in college with an idea to pursue careers in the humanities, the number of conservatives who go on to graduate school in those fields is drastically smaller for three reasons: (a) students who enrolled as conservative freshmen get brainwashed into liberalism by the time they graduate; (b) university faculty and administrations are openly hostile to conservative students; and (c) “diversity.”

More than 15 years ago, when I inquired with a friend who is a history professor about the possibility of pursuing a graduate degree in that field, he told me plainly, “Don’t even bother. For a white male nowadays, a history Ph.D. and $1.25 will buy you a cup of coffee.”

The only white males who can get hired into tenure-track positions at most universities are either (a) gay, (b) radical leftists or (c) both. Even if a conservative history student was brilliant — with an honors degree from a top school — the only way he could possibly make it through to a Ph.D. and a tenured professorship at a university would be to disguise his political views.

This has been true for so long in academia (and especially on elite campuses), that the phrase “liberal professor” is nearly redundant — almost all professors in the humanities, arts and social sciences are liberal, if not indeed left-wing extremists, so that Professor Richard Dekmejian’s hateful views are scarcely unusual on campus, and if not all professors are domestic terrorists, most are at least deeply sympathetic to the anti-capitalist cause.

As university faculties have tilted ever farther to the left, this tilt has necessarily been replicated in K-12 education, and this process of ideological diffusion — what Bruce Thornton calls “trickle-down” — is gradually making educated a synonym of liberal. If it weren’t for homeschoolers and church schools and whatever mental resistance to brainwashing Rush Limbaugh inspires, all educated young people would be liberal young people.

Still, this trend is much worse at the elite level. In general, the higher the tuition, the more extreme the leftward bias of the campus, so that you might as well send your kid to the University of Pyongyang as to send him to Harvard. A few years ago, I met a conservative who had recently graduated from Yale, but there was only one of her, and that was 2007  or so, I think.

One hears rumors that about a half-dozen Republicans will get Ivy League diplomas this spring, but I don’t pay much attention to that kind of idle gossip. Let’s be honest, eh? There are probably more Baptists at Brandeis than conservatives at Columbia.

Finally, Sarah Hoyt linked me yesterday, but only to argue that I was wrong about selection effects in the media. But she’s a novelist, not a journalist, so I suppose she’s as reliable an expert on that as I am on the Ivy League, having never set foot on any of their campuses. My hatred of the academic elite is perhaps not their fault but mine, as I am temperamentally incapable of tolerating snobs.

Not a lot of Ivy League alumni at Fort Benning, but if any of those Harvard boys think they’re a match for my son, let ’em give it a shot.


16 Responses to “Teaching Your Kids to Hate You”

  1. Sarah A. Hoyt
    May 9th, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

    I was actually commenting on how selection affects novelists. I have journalist friends who say it’s the same for them. It’s silly to argue that it’s how we decide, when there is a liberal network of gatekeepers in place who affect our decision. What we end up arguing is “there would never be any squid farms on the moon, even if we hadn’t spent all this money on welfare.” You can’t prove the lost opportunities. (And the argument you made, applied to novelists inevitably comes down to both the right and the left screaming that the right is less creative. Which is poppycock. You can trace the down-spiral of Hollywood (and mainstream publishing) by how successful they are at keeping everyone not-extreme-left away.) Actually I’m rather proud of linking people. Normally I can’t remember where I read whatever…

  2. BobBelvedere
    May 9th, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM Teaching Your Kids to Hate You #TCOT

  3. Your Kids Hate You And It’s Their Teacher’s Fault | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    May 9th, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

    […] Stacy McCain links to an article that says teachers now are being paid to make our kids hate us. (Only if the parents are conservatives.) […]

  4. robertstacymccain
    May 9th, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

    Look, Sarah, I’m not saying that conservatives lack intelligence or creativity. I’m saying that conservatives — as a general rule — make pragmatic career choices. Young conservatives are unlikely to pursue careers in the arts and humanities because those are bohemian “dreamer” type fields of endeavor. Surviving on ramen noodles in a cramped basement apartment while struggling to break as an actor or screenwriter just isn’t the College Republican mindset.

    Because conservatism is practical, it generally attracts practical-minded people. It is therefore hardly surprising that many of the top conservative bloggers (including Ace of Spades) are law school graduates. Ace might have wanted to be a screenwriter, but film school wasn’t as practical as law school. It is rather fortunate for us (if not for Ace) that his career as a young lawyer didn’t work out ideally, leaving him free to demonstrate his writerly brilliance as a blogger.

    Let me name three other top bloggers on the Right — Instapundit, Patterico and William Jacobson (Legal Insurrection) — who demonstrate what I’m talking about: Smart conservative writers go to law school. And, to further demonstrate the pragmatic aspect of that calculus, you’ll notice none of them have quit their day jobs.

    Just one more example (one you might not think of): Andrew Breitbart. He was a party-hearty slacker in college, and not really political, but basically default liberal. It was only *after* he graduated college and was sort of slacking along as a music writer for “alternative” journals, that he became more conservative, and then discovered the Internet and started changing the world.

    However offended you were by my argument, the evidence behind my argument is easy enough to find, if you accept that the plural of anecdote is “data.”

  5. Adjoran
    May 10th, 2013 @ 12:19 am

    I suspect the humanities began turning hard left at the university level much sooner. No, it didn’t hit small state-supported schools in the Deep South for a couple more decades, but it was already “trendy” at bigger institutions to be marxist-oriented. The radical movements of the early ’60s didn’t influence faculties, they were the product of faculties who had been in place long enough to be tenured BY the early ’60s.

    And there are plenty of conservatives with advanced degrees in actual sciences and hard curricula like engineering. It’s true few of them write anything beyond the occasional scholarly article, and also true most of the general public, having been subjected to two generations of federal control of education, couldn’t understand a word they write.

    The only solution is to get the federal government out of the school business, period. Tall order, to be sure.

  6. noprezzie2012
    May 10th, 2013 @ 12:57 am

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM Teaching Your Kids to Hate You #TCOT

  7. Eric D. Mertz
    May 10th, 2013 @ 8:01 am

    I have attended two different Community Colleges in Kansas City (Johnson County Community College and Kansas City Kansas Community College) both of which displayed the exact features you mention here.

    At JCCC, the Political Science professor – who is also head of the department, Dr. Brian Wright – spent most of the class period attempting to cast Conservatives in general and members of the Tea Party in particular as dangerous and imbecilic fools. Our discussions got so heated that after I informed him – in an attempt to give him fair warning that I would be doing so – that I would be bringing in a recording device for all future classes following an incident in which he used the gaybaiting epithet of Tea Baggers, he contacted Campus Police to inform them that I was threatening him. I filed an ethics complaint against him, but nothing ever happened and after he kicked me out of class for bringing in a recording device, I never returned. I was suspended for a semester, he still has a job.

    Similarly at KCKCC, the professor who teaches Political Science, Prof. Unoke, spent the first month – I don’t know about afterwards as I dropped the class – attempting to indoctrinate the students to Unokeism. The incident which convinced me to drop the class was his description of Republicans and other critics of Obama as being motivated solely by race.

  8. ReaganiteGOPer
    May 10th, 2013 @ 8:29 am

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM Teaching Your Kids to Hate You #TCOT

  9. Cube's daughter
    May 10th, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    Thank goodness for homeschooling. I’m in high school, and even my online curriculum includes brainwashing about “alternative energy” and all that stuff. I have a creative side but I think I will pursue a career in the sciences, since the economy is not kind to creativity. Not sure why. And I’m NOT going to University of Chicago or anything like that, even though they won’t leave me alone. “Come to our school! We want your parents’ money!” Of course, they never actually say that, but it’s clear. I will pick a small, Christian college to pursue my degree.

  10. whig
    May 10th, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

    There are a few more conservatives than you would expect in academia. However, very few of us are confrontational because essentially that kills your career and if expressed early enough–tenure. Law school is a bit different and you will find more openly conservative/libertarian faculty there but even so, a number of outspoken individuals at Widener and Univ. of Iowa have had their careers terminated.

    Given the lengthy purgatory of graduate school to achieve the chance for an academic career, most of us decline the opportunity to be martyrs for conservatism by being high profile bashers of the dominant culture. What I do, and I suspect other stealth conservatives do as well, is present the facts as even handed as a I can, present the arguments from both sides, and let the students decide for themselves. I have no desire to promote students parroting what they think I want to hear on topics. I try to balance political stories of good and bad with examples from both parties through history. As far as research in my field, since I focus on empirical research, I avoid much of the fights over normative issues of what it means. Let the readers decide that for themselves. From fellow conservatives in academia, I have seen a similar pattern of focusing on empirical research instead of theory. It is probably that career pragmatism at work again.

    For anyone else, don’t let the supposed hive mentality prevent you from pursuing a career in academia. Just realize that you will need to be careful about how you do it.

  11. Teaching you children to hate you, and America | The Daley Gator
    May 10th, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    […] Why is the Left winning? Because not only do winners write the history, but those who write the textbooks win too […]

  12. DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Teaching Your Kids to Hate You
    May 11th, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    […] Read it. […]

  13. Tyler V. Johnson
    May 11th, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    I am a conservative evangelical and I have a Ph.D. in U.S. History (Purdue 2009). At every professional conference I assume that in I will hear at least 3-4 irrelevant anti-conservative or pro-“progressive” comments at the various panels (total). Also, the American Historical Association operates as if every member is automatically a liberal (I can give examples if someone wants me to). Many professors and leaders of professional organizations talk a good game about their concern for the working class yet have no problem with a tenure system that requires the use of poorly-paid adjuncts and teaching assistants to teach the classes that they do not want to teach. I could go on with such examples, but I still love my field, despite the many ways in which its practitioners sometimes drive me nuts, and I do have many liberal friends.

  14. News of the Week for May 12th, 2013 | The Political Hat
    May 12th, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    […] Teaching Your Kids to Hate You Donald Douglas calls attention to an interesting argument by Bruce Thornton about the “trickle-down” of leftism in education […]

  15. Googie Bergdorff
    May 16th, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    I’d suggest that at top schools, most of the kids are already liberals before they even start. The schools don’t brainwash students so much as they render them incapable of critical thinking. As a conservative, I was thankful for the incessant liberalism because it kept me sharp, and I can’t imagine anything worse than having been subjected to non-stop conservatism instead. Having a few conservative professors over the four years was good enough for me, and any student who isn’t a complete dullard should be able to ferret a few out.

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