gop-cry-babyClose to the top of my list of things that amuse me about conservatives is their talk-tough veneer of strength, independence and personal responsibility contrasted with their never-ending calls for the waaaaahmbulance every time some mean liberal person says something mean.

Case in point: here’s a bit of drivel from The Weekly Standard on the subject of why there’s a dearth of conservatives in academia:

Why is academia liberal, then? Gross’s data indicate that it isn’t because liberals and conservatives have different values or mental habits, or that liberals discriminate against right-leaning graduate students and job candidates. Rather, it is because academia has a reputation for liberalism, and conservative undergraduates decide on their own not to continue in the field.

The key moment, Gross maintains, is the decision whether or not to go to graduate school. Young conservatives may not know all that much about academia at the faculty level, but popular stereotypes and a few off-putting experiences in class can sufficiently discourage them from pursuing academia as a site for success. A freshman orientation session that divides white males from everyone else, incessant talk about diversity, multiculturalist reading assignments, and so on may not bother them that much (and they can always find safe spaces such as College Republicans), but such things do convince young conservatives that staying on campus as a career move is foolish. An English major who reveres Great Books needs only one occasion of a teaching assistant ridiculing him for a dead-white-male fixation to decide, “I don’t need this.”

Oh. my. gawwwwwd!, Becky!!  Conservatives don’t enter academia because of “popular stereotypes,” “a few off-putting experiences,” “talk about diversity,” and being subjected to fleeting instances of ridicule at the hands of the all-powerful Guild of Teaching Assistants!?1?  How terrible!! {faint}

Wait… what?  It really all boils down to a fear that other faculty members will poke them in the ribs once in a while and give them the academic equivalent of a nurple?  Really??

I don’t know about you, but most of the insidiously liberal people I know who’ve gone into academia do so partly to (a) gather a huge arsenal of knowledge about a particular subject, and then (b) proceed to fire tremendous salvos of their own brand of such knowledge at anyone who dares to enter their field of vision.  I can’t say that I’ve ever run into any academic who doesn’t love diving into a scrum, getting as good as he/she gets and otherwise reveling in the cut and thrust of competing ideas.  Have you ever been to a theoretical physics conference??  I haven’t, but I hear they’re EPIC!   Stephen Hawking in particular is known to wield a +5 Staff of Ignominious Beatdown.

So, let’s compile an alternative analysis of why conservatives don’t want to join an institution based almost entirely on the raucous competition of ideas and the associated jabs one often needs to throw other peoples’ way in order to have one’s theories rise above the din:

  1. Conservatives are nervous, frightened little children who spook at the slightest whiff of ill will.  Criticism drives them to hide under a blanket.  Challenging their ideas prompts them to run for the hills like the devil himself was chasing them. And making a joke at their expense causes them to spontaneously lose bladder control and wet themselves.
  2. In order to succeed in academia, one needs to become an expert in a field and gather fact-based evidence to undergird the theories one is trying to assert.  Wandering around mumbling to oneself about the world popping into existence 6,000ish years ago, with your only evidence being a dusty old book written thousands of years ago by people who probably also thought that meteors were a sign that Lava God had a nasty cold, is likely to draw the scorn of geologists who have a tiny bit more evidence based on credible sources.  Scorn is also likely to cause bladder issues – see point 1 above.
  3. Those few intrepid conservative souls who are able to hike up their Huggies and slog their way through Liberal Hell to an advanced degree are presented with a cornucopia of follow-on, free market options that are often way more lucrative than a stupid faculty post at some publicly funded (!) state university.  Just think of the possibilities!  “Think” tanks, Koch-funded “academic centers,” research institutes catering to a single powerful interest group and front-groups trying to obscure religious bullshit with a veneer of scientific respectability.  You can do all sorts of “SCIENCE!,” without ever being challenged by your friendly colleagues or ever-benevolent benefactors.  It’s a warm, womb-like bubble in which never is heard a discouraging word, and the cash flows like water all day.

h/t Frum

  1. Lev says:

    4. This is aggression masked as victimhood, intended to work the refs and make universities hire more wingers so as not to be accused of “bias”. Probably won’t work though. It’s not as though there’s a blacklist--there were Republican professors at my college. They were there because they were smart people who could do the work, same as everyone else. If other Repubs were to put in the same level of hard work, no doubt the market would reward them…

  2. […] why I find the conservative obsession with LIBERAL ACADEMIA a bit puzzling. Metavirus at Library Grape points me to the latest, a conservative study on why conservatives don’t go to graduate […]

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