11.2.04

MORE ON VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY AND SELF-SELECTION. Enough new cargo has accumulated to call a new train of thought rather than run a third section of this post.

Start first with the fallout from the ill-advised comments some senior people at Duke University made. Critical Mass notes,
In fairness, the denial approach documented above is not a response that is unique to the good people at Duke. It's become a standard form of dismissal on just about every campus where party affiliations are cited as indices of the faculty's political homogeneity. In its unapologetic refusal to admit that there is an ideological elephant in the living room, it's a willfully obtuse response--brilliantly, brazenly so. Its power is such that it can withstand even the most reasonable argumentation.
Professor O'Connor's post provides connections to related commentary. (Signifying Nothing sees the sparks flying and decides to stay away. More connections here.) Ralph at Cliopatria worries whether or not the lack of a core curriculum is beginning to affect the professoriate's sanity:
Do philosophy departments teach logic anymore? Or is it, as a philosopher at Antioch explained to me, "We don't teach it because students don't want to take it." That is one place where my libertarian friends are exactly wrong. Whatever happened to requiring students to take courses because we know they need to? Those who haven't benefitted from required courses apparently now chair departments at reputable institutions.
Apparently none of these considerations bother Stanley Fish, the Jack of Clubs. (How soon do I get to "X" him off?) Tightly Wound finds a new Al-Jaz Chronicle of Higher Education commentary by Clubjack, and fisks part of it. There's more. Here's Clubjack, seeing the end of the old core courses as a Good Thing, particularly if viewed in light of the campus culture wars.
If victory for the right meant turning back or retarding the growth of programs like women's studies, African-American studies, Chicano studies, Latino studies, cultural studies, gay and lesbian (and now transgender) studies, postmodern studies, and poststructuralist theory, then the left won big time, for these programs flourish (especially among the young) and are the source of much of the intellectual energy in the liberal arts.
Flourish? If not for the "diversity" requirements that have been heaved onto the curriculum to the exclusion of calculus, logic, and languages, who would take these things? Even in the presence of these work-making requirements, aren't scholars in these victim studies and so-called theory programs the ones most likely to be freeway fliers, adjuncts, or serving coffee at Starbucks (who posted that Bart Simpson story???) I suppose if your standard of "flourish" is the standard by which the Berlin Wall made sense -- it did keep the fascists out of East Germany -- these disciplines are flourishing, but I doubt they would pass any market test.

Dean Fish goes on:
While questions of truth may be generally open, the truth of academic matters is not general but local; questions are posed and often they do have answers that can be established with certainty; and even if that certainty can theoretically be upset -- one cannot rule out the future emergence of new evidence -- that theoretical possibility carries with it no methodological obligation. That is, it does not mandate intellectual diversity, a condition that may attend some moments in the pursuit of truth when there is as yet no clear path, but not a condition one must actively seek or protect
Put another way: there is no elephant in the room, and if there is an elephant in the room, there is no reason to remove the elephant, or to open the room.

Elsewhere on the frontier of non-existent elephants, Best of the Web offers some observations on the remarks offered by the presumptive seven and eight of hearts, and uncovers yet more progressive intolerance, this time by the usual suspects (no fascists in Berlin, certainly none at Amherst College) from the usual disciplines. King at SCSU Scholars is instigating a research project to discover the political orientation of his colleagues along the Main Street of the Northwest. (Doesn't Minnesota allow crossover voting? If so, the party identifications adopted by voters for the primaries might be an imprecise measure of the political preferences of the professoriate.)

Elsewhere in the Establishment echo chamber, Milwaukee's Charlie Sykes posts an ABC memorandum that makes clear precisely what prejudices the highly-paid news reporters (making a lot of money does not exempt you from believing in Roosevelt Claus, apparently) are most comfortable with.

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