I love academia. What’s more, I suspect that a very large fraction of the Orthosphere’s readers are connected to the university system in one way or another. (Hopefully, we’ll have our next installment of the reader survey soon to test this suspicion.) So it has long pained me to see the universities so strongly associated with the forces of evil. Sociologist Neil Gross even argues that the perception (which in this case very accurately reflects the reality) of academia as a Left-liberal bastion is doing a great deal to discourage young conservatives from pursuing academic careers.
In fact, it is time to reevaluate this perception. While it is as true as ever that the faculty, administration, and campus culture of universities are monolithically liberal, they are no longer distinctively or abnormally liberal compared to the rest of society. Back during the Cold War, there was a striking difference between the universities and ordinary America; the professors wanted the commies to win, and the uneducated didn’t. With the end of the Cold War, the differences became less sharp, and they are continuing to fade. The mainstream has moved radically to the Left, while the professoriate has changed very little. Roger Kimball once called them “tenured radicals”, but the professors I know (excluding myself, of course) seem to hold what are now blandly mainstream views. Anti-white demonization, sexual nihilism, gender egalitarianism, and the cultural Marxist reading of our past history are as taken for granted in the business world, in popular fiction, in both political parties, and in most of the churches as they are in faculty meetings. Consider the implications of the last presidential election; for the first time, the winning candidate felt no need to move to the center. He embraced sodomitical “marriage” and picked a fight with the Catholic Church over a new nonnegotiable imperative of universally subsidized sexual immorality, and he did this during an election time because he realized that it would win him more votes than it would cost him. This tells us more about the electorate than it does about Obama. (Indeed, the President has since been working on compromises to the HHS mandate. As a statesman, he wants an arrangement everyone can live with, which makes him actually more moderate than the populace that elected him.)
Universities were also once known for their Orwellian speech codes and Maoist indoctrination programs. These still exist, of course, but they’re now as common outside the university as inside it. Are HR departments in corporate America so different from their university counterparts? Sure, someone known to believe that homosexuality is immoral could probably not get tenure in one of our universities, but by now we’ve all heard enough stories to know that such people will be penalized–and often fired–in any line of work. In fact, we have arguably reached the point already that there is more resistance to the sexual revolution on campus than there is in the military. To take just one more example, someone who wanted to criticize an official victim group could hardly fare worse inside academia than he would outside of it.
So to our young readers, if you feel a calling to do academic work, go for it! There are many, many beautiful things in the universities, as anyone who’s taken a class in statistical mechanics or differential geometry will well know. For myself, I can’t imagine a happier life than the one of research and teaching. Yes, it’s controlled by the Left, but they control everything else, too.