September 17 2013
Now that Michigan State University Professor William Penn is on temporary hiatus for his crazed classroom rant against Republicans, parents can breathe a sigh of relief and know that their college students are safe from indoctrination and bullying. Thanks to omnipresent cellphones, partisan tirades are but a click away from going viral. The threat of instant exposure should ensure an ideologically neutral and intellectually open learning environment on college campuses, right? Sadly, no. Most leftist propaganda on campus is too artfully delivered to trigger outrage. Students don’t realize they’re being deceived, because it’s done with a smile.
As an older graduate student, I have some twenty years of life experience on the average kid in my political science courses. Often these courses include undergraduates, which makes me feel really old… I mean, wise. When a professor extols European socialism, I’ve got the latest Wall Street Journal article on EU economies and a few firsthand observations about the less-than-ideal life there. When a professor denounces globalism, I show how the free market has lifted more people out of poverty than any other human development, and I have the statistics to back it up. Usually the only conservative in class, I offer a public service—the truth.
Sometimes class discussions are stranger than fiction. In a class last fall, two professors insisted that just because communism had failed and taken with it 100 million lives, that didn’t mean Marxism was wrong. “Its time has not yet come,” they said. Last semester, I found myself the sole defender of the existence of good and evil in another professor’s class. He claimed that modern psychology had disproven good and evil as social constructs. Human conflict was merely the result of people fighting over material goods, a vicious cycle that will cease when technology replaces labor and capitalism is no more. This week, I heard how equality of results is fairer than equality of opportunity. Let’s just say the professor’s critique of individual rights, states’ rights, rule of law and American exceptionalism was less than even-handed.
None of these lectures will ever make YouTube because these professors aren’t hateful, raving hacks. They are nice people who are considerate to students, even vocal conservatives, fair graders and gracious with their time before and after class. Far from trying to brainwash students, these professors see themselves as challenging a false paradigm of traditional thinking. They share their great faith in government and human progress because they believe it will create a better world. Professors deceive students, not out of malice, but because they themselves have been deceived.
I once asked the chair if there were any conservative faculty in the department. Of the 14 professors and instructors, there is not one conservative. Upbeat and helpful as ever, the chair suggested I might find a conservative in economics or business. That there might be a conservative professor somewhere on campus doesn’t excuse the lack of intellectual diversity in the political science department.
Conservative parents, be worried. If your undergraduate student lacks a firm grounding in political science, you are likely to lose them. Exposed to winsome liberal professors, left-leaning textbooks, and fun opportunities to attend protests and participate in internships with leftist organizations, what young person wouldn’t convert to a new and exciting faith? A department of obnoxious, unlikeable demagogues would be far less dangerous.