Imagine If Conservatives in Academia Could Safely ‘Come Out’, by Virginia Postrel, who review a new book “Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University,” by Shields and Dunn.
The modern academy pays lip service to diversity. Yet as a “stigmatized minority,” the authors note, right-of-center professors feel pressure to hide their identities, in many cases consciously emulating gays in similarly hostile environments. “I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a prominent full professor told Shields and Dunn. He’s still hiding because he hopes for honors that depend on maintaining his colleagues’ good will. “If I came out, that would finish me,” he said.
Conservatives nowadays nearly always hide their views until they’re safely tenured, a deception that is more than a temporary hardship:
But the dishonesty corrodes the mission of the university. For instance, a political scientist at a research university told the authors that he wouldn’t assign works by Friedrich Hayek in his political economy class before he was tenured. His fears of political ostracism thereby deprived students of exposure to an influential 20th-century thinker.
Complete dominance of the academy in the arts leads many progressives to assume conservatives are dopey:
The paucity of conservative professors also gives liberal scholars a misleading picture of the American right, reinforcing the idea that conservatism is incompatible with intellectual rigor. Liberal academics picture Rush Limbaugh rather than an intellectual peer.