To the Editor:
Speaking as a conservative and as someone who has been a professor for 25 years, I disagree with Paul Krugman's belief that the large margin of Democrats over Republicans in academia is owing to any anti-science stance of Republicans.
The real reason for the ideological lopsidedness of academics is far more prosaic and lies in a natural human tendency toward groupthink in any cloistered environment.
The social atmosphere in universities today resembles that of a country club, where certain attitudes or opinions are considered unacceptable, as Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard, recently rediscovered.
The suffocating orthodoxy of today's campus environment will not be cured by allowing students to sue their professors, but if history is any guide, the current orthodoxy will be replaced by another when a new generation of students appears who are unafraid to challenge the status quo.
Cambridge, Mass., April 6, 2005
To the Editor:
As a (left-leaning) college history professor, I am bemused by accusations that I am trying to indoctrinate my students with my progressive ideals. If I had that kind of influence, all my students would do the reading every week, proofread their papers meticulously and attend every class. (They don't.)
Samuel S. Thomas
Springfield, Ohio, April 5, 2005
In short, there is a frustrating tendency toward ideological homogeneity and groupthink in the academy, but it doesn't mean that students are being "indoctrinated" in a simplistic sense. And those people who purport to be trying to fix that problem are offering cures that are worse than the disease -- lawsuits against professors, regulation of curricula, and the suggestion that ideological affirmative action is needed to promote the hiring of conservative academics. Just say no -- this is a problem that is best fixed through dialogue and debate, not legal strictures and politicization.
What's scary is that this issue has become so prominent that David Horowitz, the disreputable conservative flawethrower who is leading the charge on this issue, is now being embraced by mainstream politicians like Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who recently called him a "fighter for freedom." That means things are likely to get worse before they get better.