William F. Buckley once observed, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views."
Buckley said that in the 1960s, but it is truer today on college campuses than ever. Even liberals are beginning to notice.
A few months ago I posted about how an NYU social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, had noticed the lack of ideological diversity on university faculties in the humanities and social sciences. He has shown how this has fostered a breakdown of civil discourse in our academic institutions.
Haidt is not the only prominent liberal who has taken notice. In a New York Times op-ed headlined “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance,” Nicholas Kristof wrote candidly on the phenomenon:
“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.”
Kristoff cites several sources and anecdotes, some of which are particularly striking. Take, for example, George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.
“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” Yance told Kristoff. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” (emphasis mine)
Kristoff mused on Facebook that “universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity.” The reaction he received basically proved his point:
- “Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi. “The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.
- “Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”
Kristof sees this as a great problem.
“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,” he wrote.
For the most part, liberals don’t seem to see the irony, let alone inconsistency, in their intolerance. After all, they think, why should anybody tolerate immorality—“real” (in their minds) immorality such as racism, sexism, and sexual phobias. (Or, rather, what they choose to define as racism, sexism, and sexual phobias.)
Let’s hope more than a few isolated progressives (and people in general) come to see the flaw in this type of thinking.
Or, if they prefer, they can continue to live in a moral matrix.
Michael Liccione earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania and his BA in philosophy and religion from Columbia University. He has taught in a number of institutions, mostly Catholic, including the Catholic University of America, the University of St. Thomas (Houston), and Guilford Technical Community College.
His conventional publications have appeared in The Thomist, First Things, National Review, and Christifideles; his personal blog is Sacramentum Vitae.