The most successful and pervasive blacklist in American history is the blacklist of conservatives on American college campuses, their marginalization in undergraduate life and their virtual exclusion from liberal arts faculties, particularly those that deal with the study of society itself. Because it is a blacklist enforced by academics, there has been no academic study of the problem. Consequently, the evidence regarding its mode of operation and the extent of its impact is anecdotal or confined to research that is incomplete. Nonetheless, its reality is undeniable.
This spring I have spoken at more than a dozen universities, while conducting my own inquiries into this problem. In my speeches, I always try to cover a broad menu of subjects, hoping in the hour or two available to jar students who may be seeing their first conservative speaker in the flesh into thinking in new ways about issues that confront them. These include the war, race relations, and the pervasive influence on campus of leftist viewpoints. In my speeches, I always make it a point to begin with the subject of the university blacklist, and open my remarks with these words: "You can’t get a good education, if they’re only telling you half the story --- even if you’re paying $30,000 a year." This is the slogan of the Campaign for Fairness and Inclusion in Higher Education, which I launched two years ago and which is beginning to gain traction on the campuses I have visited as conservative student groups take up the cause of intellectual diversity in their academic institutions.
Tulane Law School – one of the institutions I visited this spring -- has not a single Republican or conservative faculty member; the Duquesne Law School – where I also spoke -- has one. The students I met at the University of Michigan could not identify a single conservative on their faculty, although they could name several Marxists. At Bowling Green, conservative professors were isolated in a research center that has no teaching responsibilities. Out of 15 professors in the Department of Political Science at the University of Richmond, a private school with a decidedly conservative student body there is one Republican. The only school where there seemed to be even a handful (a literal handful) was at the University of South Dakota, a state which Bush carried in the 2000 election by 26 points.
The Center for the Study of Popular Culture is presently conducting a survey of the voting registrations of professors in the social sciences at 40 universities. The results already confirm the above impression as did the surveys by Frank Luntz and the American Enterprise magazine, which were initiated by the Center. An independent study of 20 law schools by John McGinnis and Matthew Schwartz also confirms the absurdly unbalanced ratio disclosed by our efforts (McGinnis and Schwartz published preliminary findings in a recent Wall Street Journal article.) At a recent lunch I had with the Dean of the Journalism School at the University of Southern California I asked him if he could name a single conservative on his faculty. He confessed he could not. You could throw a dart at a list of all American universities and be virtually certain of hitting one where Republican and conservative faculty members constitute less than a dozen members of a liberal arts faculty made up of hundreds.
At the beginning of April, after the United States and Great Britain had liberated Iraq, and after the streets of Baghdad were filled with Iraqis celebrating their freedom, the Academic Senate at UCLA voted to "condemn America’s invasion of Iraq" by a vote of 180-7. Such a politically partisan vote would itself have been regarded once as an abuse of the university, more appropriate to a political party than an institution devoted to scholarship and research. But the more extraordinary fact was that in a nation where 76% of the population support the war after the fact, 95% of the faculty senate at a state-funded academic institution were passionate enough in their opposition to "condemn" it.
The absurd under representation of conservative viewpoints on university faculties obviously does not happen by random process. It is the result of a systematic repression (and/or discouragement) of conservative thought and scholarship at so-called "liberal" institutions of higher learning.
In state universities the political bias against conservatives in the hiring process amounts to an illegal political patronage operation, which provides huge advantages to the Democratic Party and to the political left. Democratic and leftwing activists are subsidized and provided platforms at institutions with billion dollar budgets. Allegedly scholarly reports on capital punishment, racism, poverty and other volatile political issues that make their way into the national media are virtually guaranteed to have a leftwing spin. Leftwing political journalists are themselves provided sinecures in the form of university professorships, while politically left journals are often underwritten by university presses. Leftist journalism schools provide a steady stream of cadre to the nation’s media institutions. Campus funds available for political activities are inequitably distributed to student groups with leftwing agendas. (The ratio is normally in the neighborhood of 50-1.) These fees underwrite an army of radical speakers and agitators who operate nationally, while skewing the politics of the campus strongly to the left. Among its other effects is the spread of political hypocrisy. The same people who demand campaign finance reform in national politics enjoy the benefits of a system in which students are taxed to provide funds almost exclusively to one side of the political debate.
How has this monopoly of the academic campus come about? To begin with universities are feudal institutions whose organizational structures are hierarchical and collegial and thus closed to scrutiny and oversight. The dean at the aforesaid journalism school who agreed that a faculty without conservatives was antithetic to the idea of a university confessed that there was absolutely nothing he could do to alter the situation. Faculty hiring is controlled by senior members of the faculty itself, at the departmental level. Unless bound by greater scruples, they can hire – and do hire -- only people who agree with them and share their prejudices. Outside the hard sciences, there is no bottom line for bad ideas or discredited perspectives. Ideological prejudice is a self-perpetuating phenomenon.
That is why sociological flat-earthists -- Marxists, socialists, post-modernists and other intellectual radicals -- whose ideas of how societies work have been discredited by historical events can still dominate their academic fields. In the Sixties and Seventies centrist liberals controlled academic faculties. Because they were committed to pluralistic values, they opened the door to Marxists and other political ideologues. But as soon as the ideologues reached a critical mass on these faculties, they closed the doors behind them. The feudal hierarchies of the university made it relatively easy to create the closed system that is evident today.
Now it is virtually impossible for a vocal conservative to be hired for a tenure-track position on a faculty anywhere, or to receive tenure if so hired. The conservative faculty members I encounter who have achieved this feat, invariably tell me that they were forced to keep their political orientation to themselves until they achieved tenure. Alternatively, they were hired and tenured twenty years ago before the left secured its grip on the hiring process.
On the other hand, the blacklist really begins with the politicization of the undergraduate classroom (also a post—Sixties phenomenon) and the systematic political harassment of conservative students by their radical professors. The chief effect of this harassment is to discourage conservatives from pursuing academic careers. Leftist professors think nothing of intruding their political passions into the classroom in a manner that is inappropriate and abusive, and an unprofessional attempt to politically indoctrinate their charges. Professorial remarks denigrating conservative ideas and personalities – often in the most inappropriate context imaginable – powerfully convey the message that conservative ideas are unacceptable in the academic community. While reading lists are stripped of conservative texts, professorial expectations are defined as agreement with the ideology and political biases of the instructor. Grades often (but not always) are employed to make the bias stick.
In the informal interviews I conducted at the universities I visited, I talked with students who had been called "fascists" by their own professors (in one case for inviting Fox TV host Oliver North to campus). At the University of Oregon a student was labeled a "neo-Nazi" in class for expressing the view that former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had been the victim of a political double standards. At the University of Richmond I encountered a student whose Spanish Language professor referred to the President as a "moron" in the classroom. At each of these venues I generally get to interview a dozen or more conservative students personally. I ask them whether they have been subjected to this kind of classroom abuse. Invariably the majority have. Far from being aggressive themselves, these students who come to my events in suits and ties, have a scrubbed, honor scout look and it is I who have to point out to them that they have been abused and should think about protesting the abuse.
Leftist professors think nothing of posting anti-Bush, or anti-Israel cartoons on their offices where students come for consultation and guidance; or of recruiting students to political demonstrations, or leading on campus political protests themselves, or voting in an academic context – as at UCLA – to take extreme positions on divisive issues. What does this communicate to the students in their class who do not share their political views? What adverse impact does this have on the responsibility of teachers to teach all their students and not just those who share their political prejudices?
And yet these outrages have only begun to elicit a remedial reaction from the public at large, and that largely because of the war. This is why I have undertaken the task of organizing conservative students myself and urging them to protest a situation that has become intolerable. I encourage them to use the language that the left has deployed so effectively in behalf of its own agendas. Radical professors have created a "hostile learning environment for conservative students. There is a lack of "intellectual diversity" on college faculties and in academic classrooms. The conservative viewpoint is "under-represented" in the curriculum and on its reading lists. The university should be an "inclusive" and intellectually "diverse" community.
I have encouraged students to demand that their schools adopt an "academic bill of rights" that stresses intellectual diversity, that demands balance in their reading lists, that recognizes that political partisanship by professors in the classroom is an abuse of students’ academic freedom, that the inequity in funding of student organizations and visiting speakers is unacceptable, and that a learning environment hostile to conservatives is unacceptable.
In my visits to college campuses I have found that conservative students respond to this message enthusiastically and that even liberal students are concerned when it is brought up. Fairness, equity and inclusion are American values, and will be supported by the American public whenever they are at issue. In my campus campaign I have begun to receive the kind of responses to these agendas that give me hope for the future.
My visit to the University of Missouri in Columbia is a case in point. Before I even arrived, the students informed me that a leftist biology professor named Miriam Golomb was offering her students credits to come and protest my speech. The normal bias on these occasions is that leftist professors provide students academic credits for attending leftist speeches, but withhold the same privilege from conservative speakers (and will even encourage boycotts of conservative speakers). Since there are virtually only leftist professors, this cuts down the audience for conservative speakers and creates the impression that there is something wrong with conservatives generally. They are "controversial," "extreme," "irrational" and worse.
One of Professor Golomb’s students asked if she would provide credit for attending my speech. Golomb replied, "No, why would I, since I don’t like what he has to say? He’s a racist." Then Professor Golomb had a second thought, "But I will give you twice as many credits if you go to protest." Golomb, who is white, then went to the black students association which at Missouri is called the "Legion of Black Collegians" to try to incite the group to protest my appearance. Her appeal backfired and several of the students reported what had happened to their friends among the College Republicans. Professor Golomb also sent an email to students urging them to protest, and a leaflet with my picture was created (my student sources are convinced that Professor Golomb was the creator) calling me "A Real Live Bigot" and accusing me of being "on the payroll of a rightwing foundation."
The immediate impact of this professorial agitation was to cause the university to beef up its security and assign seven armed guards to the event. I was thus transformed into a "controversial" speaker whose very appearance was a public danger. The left-wing college TV station ran promotional ads describing me as "an extreme rightwing conservative" to complete the effect.
As soon as I arrived in Columbia, I had the students take me to the university office of the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs. I expressed my outrage at being slandered by Professor Golomb and wondered whether this treatment of a visiting speaker was appropriate to an institution that billed itself as one dedicated to the "higher learning." I pointed out that I was a nationally known and respected commentator, that my views were representative of at least half the political population, and that I had been a civil rights activist for fifty years. I said I would like an apology from Professor Golomb and a university statement deploring her actions.
These actions were harmful to the principle of academic freedom, to the free exchange of ideas and to the educational mission of the university. How could students feel free to express themselves in such an atmosphere? I was the ostensible target of these attacks, but the real victims would be the students who invited me. I would only be at the university a couple of hours. But the stigma the professor’s slander imprinted on this event would stay with the students throughout their college careers. They would be known as students who had invited a racist to campus, however false and malicious that accusation might be. The Vice Chancellor listened sympathetically to what I had to say and blandished me with typical bureaucratic assurances. I did not get the impression that any action would be taken. Since I was only there for a few hours, I was forced to content myself with having made the point and I urged the students who accompanied me to carry on the effort to see that something more was done.
My speech was delivered two hours later in the business school theater. When I walked into the room, it was packed to the rafters with 500 people who gave me a standing, cheering ovation. (It is my distinct impression that since the war began conservatives have become bolder in displaying their emotions.) I was introduced by the faculty adviser of the College Republicans, Richard Hardy. He waved the obscene attack leaflet and began to describe what Professor Golomb had done. It turned out that she herself was in the audience, and rose – according to her own account later -- to protest his "misrepresentation." According to this account, she said she had not offered the credits to her students to protest the event, but to attend it. This version was contradicted by her own students, but in any case neither Professor Hardy nor I were able to hear what she saying above the din from the audience. Professor Hardy thought she was apologizing for the slander and asked me if I accepted it. I said I did.
When I walked to the podium to speak, the audience again rose to its feet and gave me a second ovation (a third would come at the conclusion of the talk). I began by describing who I was -- how I had marched on my first civil rights demonstration for American blacks in 1948 when I was nine years old, and had continued my efforts for civil rights ever since. To put flesh on this statement, I told them how the previous week I had gone to San Diego to receive an award from an organization called Operation Hope, headed by a charismatic black leader named John Bryant. Bryant had formed Operation Hope in 1992, in the wake of the Los Angeles riots. Since then he had brought tens of millions of dollars in investments and loans into five inner cities, helped hundreds of poor black and Hispanic families to purchase their own homes and taught economic literacy skills to more than 100,000 inner city residents. I have been working with John Bryant since 1996, and the award recognized my efforts in behalf of Operation Hope. I have raised half a million dollars for the organization and have opened doors for John in Republican Washington after his Democratic patrons were turned out of office. As a result of these efforts John Bryant was welcomed at the Bush White House, where he extended an invitation to the President to come to South Central Los Angeles. The event took place on the 10th Anniversary of the Los Angles riots, and the President was given a warm welcome by community activists at an event hosted by John Bryant and Operation Hope.
In the past, I had been reticent to talk about these efforts, but Professor Golomb’s "protest" prompted me to break my silence. I wanted the students who invited me to have ammunition to defend themselves and those attending to see just how malicious the attacks on us were. After establishing my credentials, I launched into the opening set piece of every speech I give on college campuses. I said, "You can’t get a good education, if they’re only telling you half the story. Even if you’re paying $8,000 a year" (the tuition at Missouri). I talked about the longest, most successful blacklist ever conducted in America. I talked about the "political harassment" of conservative students, the creation of a "hostile learning environment," and the need to get representation for "under-represented viewpoints," on their campus. I talked about the need for "intellectual diversity."
I then related these observations to the war in Iraq. I talked about the role of the leftwing university role in undermining American self-respect and self-confidence at a time when the nation was facing enemies who were deadly. I showed them another way to look at American history using the history of black Americans as an example. I pointed out that slavery had existed and been accepted for thousands of years in black Africa and in every society until the end of the 18th Century when dead white Christian males in England and the United States concluded for the first time in human history that slavery was immoral and should be abolished. I reminded them how a white slave-owner named Thomas Jefferson put into the founding document of this nation the revolutionary idea that all men are created equal and how within a generation as a direct result of the efforts of England and America slavery had been abolished in the Western world.
I said that the proper way look at America is not just that it shared in the crimes of all nations, but – more importantly -- that it became the pioneer of human equality and freedom for all nations; that as a result of America’s efforts to realize the ideals of equality and freedom, blacks in America are now the freest and richest black people anywhere on the face of the earth including all of the nations that are ruled by blacks. I pointed out that our Islamo-fascist enemies are supporters of slavery in Libya and the Sudan, and of tyranny and oppression everywhere; that we are in a civil war which pits the forces of freedom led by the United States against the forces of social darkness and oppression who rallied to the defense of the regime in Iraq. I pointed out that it was important for them to learn to be proud of their country, because if they were not proud of their country they could not defend themselves.
This was the end of my speech and resulted in another ovation. The response – particularly after the attacks -- was immensely rewarding. But my greatest gratification came afterwards, as the conservative students were taking me back to my hotel. One of them had a roommate who was a member of the Legion of Black Collegians and who had attended my talk. As a black student in a leftwing educational system that extended back to the very first grade, she was the most focused target and most vulnerable victim of the left’s campaign of slander against America’s heritage, and thus against her heritage as an African American. What this black student told her roommate when my speech was concluded was how much she had learned by coming to the event. "Everything I have been told all my life," she said, "has been a lie."