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Nicholas Kristof: More self-deceptive blather on academic freedom

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From Nicholas Kristof at New York Times, who has just discovered  that most “liberals” don’t agree that close-mindedness is a bad thing (he wrote about it recently, and now follows up):

Third, when scholars cluster on the left end of the spectrum, they marginalize themselves. We desperately need academics like sociologists and anthropologists influencing American public policy on issues like poverty, yet when they are in an outer-left orbit, their wisdom often goes untapped.

In contrast, economists remain influential. I wonder if that isn’t partly because there is a critical mass of Republican economists who battle the Democratic economists and thus tether the discipline to the American mainstream.

I’ve had scores of earnest conversations with scholars on these issues. Many make the point that there simply aren’t many conservative social scientists available to hire. That’s true. The self-selection is also understandable: If I were on the right, I’d be wary of pursuing an academic career (conservatives repeatedly described to me being belittled on campuses and suffering what in other contexts are called microaggressions). More.

Oh blather. First, the scholars whom Kristof repeatedly refers to as “liberals” are by definition not liberals if they are massively clustered “on the left end of the spectrum.” That’s elementary logic but universities are too politically correct to teach logic anymore.

Calling them liberals is not a minor verbal dishonesty either. It prevents a discussion of the true issue: It’s not merely  that conservatives are not heard but that only or mainly progressives are heard. And the methods used to enforce that state of affairs are increasingly illiberal, witness the growing use of precious little asshats as enforcers.

Second, why the earnest pretense that these “liberal” “scholars” want to do good academic work anyway? They are interested in enforcing progressive orthodoxies, in part by preventing literate challenges to them. They make that clear by their words and actions, as Kristof himself admits.

He also says

Mixed in here are legitimate issues. I don’t think that a university should hire a nincompoop who disputes evolution, or a racist who preaches inequality.

This is classic virtue signalling. Kristof wants the cocktail set to know that he isn’t serious about free inquiry, he just wants to witter about some of the unpleasant places  into which his favourite people’s fascism has led him.

Most virtue signals are a bit more adroit than this. Right now there is indeed a big dispute going on about evolution, and if Kristof is not hearing more about it, that’s principally due to the fact that he’s likely getting most of his information from Darwin’s fanboys, not from the new thinkers in the field.

Incidentally, as everyone knows, lots of racism is being preached today on campus, in support of progressive “diversity” goals. Would Kristof like to try doing something about that?

No wonder the New York Times is shedding writers and readers. Who wants to pay to see someone decorously wringing his hands?

See also: NYT: Confession of liberal intolerance – a bit late

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4 Replies to “Nicholas Kristof: More self-deceptive blather on academic freedom

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    Um, how out of touch ARE you? The Socialists took full possession of the term “Liberal” many decades ago. Progressive is used the same way: it means “Socialist”. But even American voters with only casual interest in politics understand that they HATE Socialists. So Socialists, and even most Communists, disguise themselves using other words with very vague meanings.

    At the same time, Nazis were always and still are LEFT Wing groups. When Hitler came to power in the 1930s, Stalin and the Comintern sent out the Party Line that suddenly Fascists, a Socialist party started by the internationally recognized Socialist Mussolini, were “Right Wing”. This despite the fact that in the traditional spectrum of political opinions The Left Wing (of the French parliament) was for strong central control (e.g., all Monarchists are Left Wing by definition) while the Right Wing stood for local control and defense of personal property. Today, the true Right Wing consists of Libertarians and Anarchists (except the Socialists who want to steal everybody’s stuff and then claim that the government run by them is not really a government…)

    The great accomplishment of confusing Westerners about the political spectrum is that Communists and other Socialists can condemn people who argue with them as “Nazis” and part of the mythical RADICAL Right wing.

    Some day the Libertarians will conquer the world. And their first change will be to leave everybody the hell alone.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Mahuna at 1, I do know a bit of the history, but thanks for more detail.

    The problem is that misuse of language has reached the point where the term “liberal” is synonymous with the very opposite attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviour. That isn’t especially true of the term “socialist.”

    If a major columnist can get away with portraying far left attitudes as “liberal,” more people should be calling him on it. Especially people who actually ARE liberals, and have something to lose – their identity.

  3. 3
    clown fish says:

    Misuse of language transcends all affiliations. The “Moral Majority” was neither. Neither Conservative nor Liberal are used in the traditional sense.

    I would much rather see people argue the actual issues rather than pigeon-hole everybody into a convenient category and then dismiss anything they have to say. This tactic is used by all sides. I have always been referred to on this site as a leftists (when I am not being called a liar, abjectly stupid, contemptible, arrogant on a cosmic scale, and shameless) when in fact, I would consider myself to be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    Social scientists should have no influence. these matters are for the people to decide. Economists have very little in reality.
    Its all about these folks claiming to be the experts and so we have to submitt to thier wisdom.
    So this guy, in his liberality, allows for more balance. big deal. People like him caused all the problems.
    Simply a opposition must be held against authority and instead a demand for everyone to prove on the merits.

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