Progressives are fine with people who don’t look like them as long as they think like them

George Yancey, a sociology professor, says he has faced many problems in life because he is black, “but inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” Credit Nancy Newberry for The New York Times

George Yancey, a sociology professor, says he has faced many problems in life because he is black, “but inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” Credit Nancy Newberry for The New York Times

Believe it or not people holding conservative viewpoints experience discrimination inside Universities and Academia.Twenty five years ago I did not experience discrimination as a teacher but I was sometimes treated as an amusing oddity by other teachers whenever I expressed my conservative views. Many were quite patronising, as if I was some how unsophisticated or naive for holding such views. When I was at university I do not recall having any conservative lecturers although I do remember having a lecturer who recommended that we all try drugs.

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.

…consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the 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?”

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. 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.
…The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.

Yancey, the black sociologist…conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.

The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”

A study published in The American Journal of Political Science underscored how powerful political bias can be. In an experiment, Democrats and Republicans were asked to choose a scholarship winner from among (fictitious) finalists, with the experiment tweaked so that applicants sometimes included the president of the Democratic or Republican club, while varying the credentials and race of each. Four-fifths of Democrats and Republicans alike chose a student of their own party to win a scholarship, and discrimination against people of the other party was much greater than discrimination based on race.

“I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a conservative professor is quoted as saying in “Passing on the Right,” a new book about right-wing faculty members by Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. That’s a metaphor that conservative scholars often use, with talk of remaining in the closet early in one’s career and then “coming out” after receiving tenure.

This bias on campuses creates liberal privilege. A friend is studying for the Law School Admission Test, and the test preparation company she is using offers test-takers a tip: Reading comprehension questions will typically have a liberal slant and a liberal answer.

Some liberals think that right-wingers self-select away from academic paths in part because they are money-grubbers who prefer more lucrative professions. But that doesn’t explain why there are conservative math professors but not many right-wing anthropologists.

It’s also liberal poppycock that there aren’t smart conservatives or evangelicals. Richard Posner is a more-or-less conservative who is the most cited legal scholar of all time. With her experience and intellect, Condoleezza Rice would enhance any political science department. Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian and famed geneticist who has led the Human Genome Project and the National Institutes of Health. And if you’re saying that conservatives may be tolerable, but evangelical Christians aren’t — well, are you really saying you would have discriminated against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Jonathan Haidt, a centrist social psychologist at New York University, cites data suggesting that the share of conservatives in academia has plunged, and he has started a website, Heterodox Academy, to champion ideological diversity on campuses.

“Universities are unlike other institutions in that they absolutely require that people challenge each other so that the truth can emerge from limited, biased, flawed individuals,” he says. “If they lose intellectual diversity, or if they develop norms of ‘safety’ that trump challenge, they die. And this is what has been happening since the 1990s.”

…Universities should be a hubbub of the full range of political perspectives from A to Z, not just from V to Z. So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.



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  • good article and so true that SJW’s are very… very intolerant people in general. Free speech is dying on the left . On FB on Twitter, everywhere. The diversity that is truly important is not necessarily cultural diversity either(as that often means promoting religions)…… but ‘intellectual diversity’.

    • kereru

      Not only intolerant but arrogant.

  • andrewo

    What really annoys me is Creationist Christians describing themselves as ‘conservative’. They’re not. They’re just members of a crackpot cult.
    I’m a conservative. A conservative atheist. Someone who is a product of the Age of Enlightenment, with an education and beliefs based on evidence.

    • kereru

      Why is it necessary to belittle the beliefs of Christians while claiming your views to be above reproach? In doing so you aptly illustrate the problem mentioned in the article of showing intolerance to another worldview while demanding acceptance of your own. Science cannot answer the ‘why’ questions or give assurance, significance, comfort or meaning to life. It has its limits, and its limits are strictly material. What of the metaphysical, the philosophical? Would you be prepared to be so strident were this an Islamic website? If not, why not?

      Contrary to your outburst, you have every right to think as you do, but I believe you are making the category mistake of confusing mechanism with agency.

      • Cadwallader

        I don’t see science as being as distant from philosophy as you suggest. To quote Carl Sagan: “Science is not a body of knowledge; it is the skeptical interrogation of the universe.” As physicists drill further into the sub-sub-atomic world numerous things and events appear counter-intertuitive hence the imagination is required to fuel the science.

        • kereru

          An elegant description by Carl Sagan, and you make a good point. But as a member of a ‘crackpot cult’ I was endeavouring to point out that science and the metaphysical/philosophical are to be considered as essential parts of a glorious whole, not opposites or enemies. Mankind is far more than merely organic matter, molecules and atoms.

          Of course, we know that many distinguished scientists see no contradiction, one of whom was Sir Isaac Newton who made a huge contribution to the thinking of the Enlightenment – of which andrewo is so proud of being a product.

          • Cadwallader

            It is a question of certainty. I am a non-believer but given recent discoveries in science I am resolved to not possessing a conclusive knowledge of anything. I think the “why” question is the most difficult for us all whether a creationist or not.

          • understater

            I have spent a great deal of time recently listening to debates between the “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and leading Christian apologists like John Lennox, Frank Turek, and William Lane Craig. The arguments range from ontological, to cosmological, epistemological, biological, theological, philosophical and moral, and a couple of things have become abundantly apparent.

            The scientific evidence for intelligent design is absolutely overwhelming.
            The new atheists to a man share an iron clad presupposition of philosophical naturalism. That there is nothing beyond the natural world, so irrespective of where the evidence leads, the possibility of any supernatural cause must never under any circumstances be entertained, because the underlying philosophical assumption in their world view precludes it. This putting the cart before the horse.

            Secondly, with the exception of Sam Harris, the new atheists deny any possibility of objective morality, because to accept that any objective moral law exists, they would have to accept a moral law giver. Which would then open the door wide open for God to enter. They then go on to use objective morality, the existence of which they expressly deny, to critique the moral qualities of God in order to prove his non existence. They borrow morality from God to deny God’s existence, which is an appallinglogical fallacy.

            In short, the new atheists don’t have an intellectual problem with God. They have a philosophical and moral one.

          • kereru

            I’m reminded of the quote by Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist) one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology.

            ‘We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spiteof the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a prior adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
            (italics in the original)

          • understater

            It reminds me of the much lauded Verification Principle. Simply put, the verification principle states that anything that can’t be empirically verified by means of the five senses should be rejected as non sense…. Nonsense.

            There is just one major flaw.

            The verification principle cannot be empirically verified through any of the five senses, so is by its own definition, nonsense.

            A J Ayr, at one time a champion of scientific naturalism, later said that while viewpoint was a blind alley. He said any de-bunker should be made to publicly

          • kereru

            Ah yes, the self-refuting statement is a wonderful thing to behold. The mystery is that despite making the statement I quoted, Prof Lewontin has not himself allowed ‘a Divine Foot in the door’ of his beliefs. I find it intriguing that this quote is from his book entitled ‘Billions and Billions of Demons’.

    • phronesis

      All the Creationist Christians I know are raving Socialists. I’m curious what you think the necessary connection is between peoples political and religious beliefs?

      • kereru

        I don’t mean to be rude, but I know of no Christians that are ‘raving’ anything – and certainly not raving socialists. I can only surmise that you don’t know many Creationist Christians.

        • phronesis

          Obviously that wasn’t really the point of my post but I must say I am surprised. I wonder if it’s a generational thing. Between the promoters of liberation theologies, the Labour and Green party activists and of course the refugee welcome committees, the label raving socialist is quite apt. I know of a number of churches that have invited left wing politicians to speak but never from the right.

          • kereru

            ‘I know of a number of churches that have invited left wing politicians to speak but never from the right.’

            These ultra liberal churches have no business meddling in politics. They seem to disregard the teaching of Jesus to “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:17). In other words, Jesus was teaching the separation of church and state.

            Often these are splinter groups from mainstream churches which have a ‘niche’ congregation. Again, churches which do not use Biblical teaching should find another word to describe themselves, for they have ceased to be ‘churches’ in the Biblical understanding of the word – a body of people who are followers of Jesus Christ.

            The majority of churches would no more ask a politician to speak than Parliament would ask a member of the clergy to speak.

  • JEL51

    Facebook being accused of manipulating news trends yesterday with similar accusations being laid at Twitter. A dangerous game they play.

  • BigDogTalking

    I have never really understood a desire to have cultural diversity, religious diversity, or intellectual diversity. All of these involve you having made a choice I have rejected (having not adopted your cultural norms, your religious viewpoint or your intellectual conclusions) so my starting point is rejection of those things that you have embraced. Why would I want to be with people who act and think against my preferred view.
    Having said all that Live and Let Die is my motto, as long as I don’t have to agree with your (IMHO) poorly thought out ideas, why should I care.

    • Annoyed

      While true, in the context of an institution that is supposed to help mould the thinkers of the future, they should absolutely not be ignoring the ideological viewpoints of people just because they disagree with them.

    • Keyser Soze

      Yes diversity. No religion any where advocates tolerance of diversity. That’s because religions are borne of a time when their purpose was to control the unwashed masses. What better way to do that than a scary omnipotence watching and judging your every move? There is no room for tolerance in that end goal. The only tolerance taught in Christianity is towards other Christians not towards anyone else.

      • kereru

        ‘The only tolerance taught in Christianity is towards other Christians not towards anyone else.’

        An astonishing claim. Do you have a source for that assumption?

        • Keyser Soze

          It is self evident in religious behaviour over the last thousand years before slaughtering your neighbour for blasphemy, witchcraft or the like has become constrained by societal norms.

          • kereru

            You misunderstand – I’m looking for a New Testament text which supports your view. I asked for a source, not supposition.

  • PersonOfColor:WHITE

    It is much, much worse than that in US universities. There is a concerted campaign to exclude conservative views, by force. Watch Ben Shapiro at CSU LA

  • JohnO

    This is one of the reasons Donald Trump gained huge traction in the republican primaries and swamped his opponents. He said “I am not a Christian but the war against Christianity in America stops the day after I become president”. It will be interesting to see if he can put enough heat on those university staff to make them return to their senses.

  • phronesis

    Your confusion results from the description liberal which in America is a synonym for socialist. I guess they kind of had to call themselves something else when the bad guys were the U.S.S.R..

  • kereru

    “There is a modern myth that holds that true tolerance consists of neutrality. It is one of the most entrenched assumptions of a society committed to relativism. The tolerant person occupies neutral ground, a place of complete impartiality where each person is permitted to decide for himself. No judgments allowed. No “forcing” personal views. Each takes a neutral posture towards another’s convictions.

    This approach is very popular with post-modernists, that breed of radical skeptics whose ideas command unwarranted respect in the university today. Their rallying cry, “There is no truth,” is often followed by an appeal for tolerance.

    For all their confident bluster, the relativists’ appeal actually asserts two truths, one rational and one moral. The first is the “truth” that there is no truth. The second is the moral truth that one ought to tolerate other people’s viewpoints. Their stand, contradictory on at least two counts, serves as a warning that the modern notion of tolerance is seriously misguided.

    Ironically, though, there is little tolerance for the expression of contrary ideas on issues of morality and religion. If one advocates a differing view, he is soundly censured. The tolerance issue has thus gone topsy-turvy: tolerate most behavior, but don’t tolerate opposing beliefs about those behaviors. Contrary moral opinions are labeled as “imposing your view on others.”

    Instead of hearing, “I respect your view,” those who differ in politically incorrect ways are told they are bigoted, narrow-minded, and intolerant.” ~ Greg Koukl

    • understater

      Tolerance has morphed into something resembling society’s new highest good, and it is used as a blunt instrument to silence dissent and enforce group think. But only because the very meaning of the word tolerance has been stretched so far that it means something else. To tolerate someone, you must first disagree with them. But that is no longer the case. We have got to the point where simply respecting another’s right to voice their opinion is no longer acceptable. We must validate and celebrate their differing views. It comes out of the absurd notion that all beliefs are of equal merit and value, which is another self refuting statement. If my belief is that your beliefs are stupid and without merit, then you are bound by your own expressed beliefs to validate mine. Madness ensues.

      • kereru

        An excellent summary. I regret the days seem to be over when intelligent debate was not only possible but encouraged, and debaters had sufficient humility to at least respect their opponent’s point of view. It seems our Universities have been turned into sausage machines turning out identical products of Marxist thinking and indoctrination, marching in lockstep, and instructed in what to think instead of how to think.

  • Keyser Soze

    I have to say I have some sympathy with the statement “Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” Perhaps not so much with conservatives but certainly with evangelical Christians. Personally I’d certainly discriminate against someone who, for example holds a world view that the bible is the word of God etc… In the same way as I’d discriminate against an idiot or criminal, or someone who wears white socks with black pants.

    • Jonat

      Proving God exists is almost as hard as proving he doesn’t exist. Even though I cannot take you to him and point him out, there are certainly clues that speak of an intelligent being far greater than ourselves that I believe stare us in the face every day.

      Unless you believe in some other god or force that’s not the god of the bible, I am presuming you hold to a view that the universe came together by chance, because that’s really the only alternative. This view is empirically false. This has been mathematically proven to be impossible (In his book, Darwin’s Doubt, Dr. Stephen Meyer gives a comprehensive argument), no matter how many 0s you add to the number of years it would take. Such order, precision, and intelligence cannot derive from disorder and unintelligence.

      Nearly everything that is man-made you can recognise as such. You know that everything from a piece of paper to a cathedral was designed and built by people. Nobody would even consider otherwise, that would be silly. However, many people can look at something far, far more complex, like the universe, how it holds together, the laws of physics, and so on, and shrug it off as an accident. This worldview makes no sense to me.

      • Keyser Soze

        I don’t recognise these clues you speak of as anything more than looking for elephants in the clouds in the sky and finding dumbo. Some people need validation beyond the awesomeness of the natural world, I do not. I don’t mind that I don’t understand how or why the universe came about or why I’m here beyond my biological imperative, I live in awe that against all probability I’m here to enjoy it.

        The difference between us is of course is that while I am prepared to change my position should you take me and introduce me to God (and I’m not talking some prayer meeting), I suspect you would have a problem making the same commitment. I am minded of my favourite quote on this subject:

        Live a good life. If there are gods & they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

        Marcus Aurelius

        • Jonat

          I am glad that you would be willing to believe in God if I could introduce him to you, but I would expect anyone with even the least bit of sanity to do that.

          What I was trying to show was the perspective of someone who you’d discriminate against in a not too dissimilar way to an idiot criminal. That from our perspective, denying a creator looks equally as stupid.

          Any living thing in nature requires numerous other things to exist and do their job in order for it to be able to exist. If there are two things where one without the other is pointless or impossible, this is the number one sign of engineering. Not I think, not I hope, not I believe; it is. And so, yes, I am convinced of a creator. I, like you, am at least a little bit sane. Likening this to “looking for elephants in the clouds in the sky and finding dumbo” sounds very ignorant from my perspective.

          As a Christian, I am constantly having to put up with hearing people like yourself (correct me if I’m wrong) and lefty academics say that Christians are naïve and unscientific. This statement is taken as fact because it has been said so many times. But it simply isn’t true.

          • understater

            It’s the classic ad hominem attack technique. Attack the man for his beliefs to avoid having to consider his beliefs. Keep up the attack to prevent others from considering his beliefs. It’s actually no different to the silencing of academics in the article. Criticize, marginalize, and ostracize so the Christian world view doesn’t get a seat at the table.

            That and of course the “God of the gaps” straw man.

        • kereru

          The problem with that is that humanity is not agreed on what is just or unjust – for ISIS torturing and killing the non-Muslim is a just war. For tribes in Papua New Guinea treachery is more admired than virtue. They don’t understand gratitude and have no word for expressing it. Hitler and his Nazi henchmen thought he was justified in ridding the world of Jews. Mao thought ridding China of its intelligentsia was just. Throughout history all tyrants have considered the ends justified the means.

          By the same token, what is virtue? And you will only live on in the fading memories of your loved ones for a couple of generations. And then oblivion. A bleak prospect indeed.

    • kereru

      So you’d lump an evangelical Christian in the same bracket as an idiot or a criminal?

      Do you regard believing that the Bible is the word of God is a criminal offence? If so, you’d have to shun the company of such notables as Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Michael Faraday, Blaise Pascal, Lord Kelvin, Robert Boyle, Gregor Mendel, Max Planck, Sir Robert Boyd, John Polkinghorne, Francis Collins – and this is just a small fraction of scientists.

      I know whose company I’d rather keep, but each to their own.

      • Keyser Soze

        You forgot Darwin. All scientists of an age when outing yourself as an atheist was akin to a death sentence. I’m sure than given their work was all funded, in one way or another, by the church they had no motivation to maintain a public face of devout adherence to religious teachings.

        I’d suggest that evangelicals today who believes the world is 6000 years old or that evolution is still a theory deserves to be discriminated against in the same way as idiots or criminals.

        • Jonat

          The irony is if you looked, you would find that many of the scientists who study the origin of life do not hold an evolutionary view, or if they do, it is a version of evolution quite different to what is taught as fact in our schools and universities.

          If Darwin were alive today, it is unlikely he would still believe in evolution. It was an interesting idea, sure, but it has been proven to be impossible. Darwin wasn’t an idiot, and he had the decency to acknowledge the weaknesses in his own theory.

          • kereru

            And it would have horrified him to learn of the development of eugenics as a result of his theories.

            ‘As Darwin’s theory gained widespread acceptance, thinkers of every stripe began to find lessons in it for understanding the politics and society of their time, using Darwinian thought to support their own agendas. This so-called Social Darwinism ran in many different political directions. The right-wing branch of Social Darwinism—which was not necessarily the most popular strand of it—promoted racism, justified social and political inequality, and glorified war. It also inspired Adolf Hitler and his ardent supporters to launch a world war and exterminate the Jews of Europe.

            The most important idea may have been “struggle,” the notion that all relations between individuals and between nations were defined by a merciless battle for survival. Struggle followed inevitably from the laws of nature as discovered by Darwin, and therefore had no moral significance. The Christian injunctions to “love your neighbor” and “love your enemies” had no place in the animal kingdom; neither should they control the behavior of human beings, who were not made in the image of God, but rather counted as nothing more than an especially clever type of animal.’


        • kereru

          Ah the intolerance of tolerance writ large. The thought police at work. Why should it bother you what Christians believe, especially as it seems you haven’t taken the trouble to find out what the New Testament actually teaches, nor do you seem to know why the Reformation took place, or the historical narrative of the OT, proven by archaeology and recorded history to be correct – and increasingly being substantiated by the discovery of ancient artifacts. In fact, Israeli archaeologists use the OT as resource for identifying where to dig.

          Are we to understand that you don’t you support freedom of speech and expression for those you disagree with? You seem to insist on it for yourself, which is fine by your opponents. Who is the more tolerant?

        • kereru

          ‘All scientists of an age when outing yourself as an atheist was akin to a death sentence.’

          That is a bit of a stretch. I suppose you’re thinking of Galileo and attributing the excesses of the RC Church to Biblical teaching. Again, you show your lack of understanding that that was exactly why the 16th century Protestant Reformation took place. The power, corruption and stranglehold of the RCC was totally unbiblical.

          One scientist is not ‘all’ scientists. In the Victorian era it became quite fashionable to be an atheist but almost all of the great Victorian reformers, from Wilberforce onwards, were motivated by the example and teaching of Jesus Christ. Atheists have always been content to live and let live, respecting the views of those who differ. Today’s ‘new’ atheists seem to think it is their place to ridicule the beliefs of others while lecturing them about tolerance. At the very least this is blatant hypocrisy. At the very worst, militant atheists are trying to create a spiritual vacuum which Islam is waiting in the wings to fill. Take your pick.

          • Keyser Soze

            We’ll have to agree to disagree on the persecution of atheists. It is still clearly going on today, esp in the USA. There is not one single elected official in the US who is openly atheist. How so? Even the great Sir David Attenborough will stop short of outing himself as an atheist when interviewed although he has made a famous quote regarding a parasitic African worm that which admittedly gives a pretty clear indication of his beliefs.

            I don’t accept that atheists have been ‘content to live and let live’ rather they have never had a choice nor been able to have a voice through fear of that persecution. The Internet and social media in particular (here we are!) is now the medium for that voice.

  • cows4me

    Liberalism is an attack on Christianity, it’s that simple. The question that should be asked is why.