EDITORIAL: The leaning ivory tower

Liberals hate diversity when it comes to campus speakers

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

The left talks a lot about diversity and academic freedom, but it’s rarely practiced. With rare exceptions, the ideological spectrum of the commencement speakers sending graduates out into the real world ranges from far left to even further left. There’s an unwelcome mat in front of the ivory tower for Republicans and conservatives.

That’s the conclusion of the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Hassett, who reviewed the 2012 and 2013 graduation-event speakers at the top 100 universities and top 50 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. By examining political campaign contributions and party affiliation, speakers were categorized as either liberal or conservative. For 2013, with the season still unfolding at the time of his recent Los Angeles Times op-ed column on the topic, Mr. Hassett had identified the political leanings of 69 speakers. “[N]o current or former Republican public official is scheduled to speak at the top 50 colleges, and only four will address the top 100 universities,” Mr. Hassett wrote. “Again, there are no conservatives scheduled to speak in the Ivy League.”

“Factoring in campaign contributions and public endorsements,” he added, “liberals outnumber conservatives by about 6 to 1.” Furthermore, the Republicans who were invited to speak were typically the squishy, aisle-crossing varieties.

The findings of the Young America’s Foundation’s 20th annual Commencement Speakers Survey were only slightly less lopsided. Using a similar methodology, it identified 62 liberal speakers, but only 17 conservative lecturers, with the latter generally relegated to smaller, less prestigious schools. Among the liberal speakers: Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Democrat. Meanwhile, Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, was squeezed out as speaker at Johns Hopkins University because he came out of the closet as a conservative.

This goes to show that for the left, tolerance is a one-way street. Throughout academia, “diversity” may be esteemed the ultimate value. In practice, it’s a faux diversity that excludes the academic difference that matters most: diversity of thought. The lack of true political diversity at the commencement lectern follows the same disturbing pattern of ideological imbalance found in collegiate faculties. It’s an intolerance that seeps into the student body. When college Republican clubs invite conservatives such as Ann Coulter and Karl Rove to speak at their events, left-wing hecklers often try to shout down the opposing thought with rude demonstrations.

It’s not like there’s a shortage of high-profile intellectual firepower and career achievement on the right, where it’s easy to identify brilliant economists, titans of industry, and even one or two Hollywood stars. Students deserve to be exposed to more than just the monochromatic views of liberal luminaries chosen because they’re not going to provoke any thought different from what they heard in the classroom. It’s time to challenge liberal academics to practice what they preach and challenge them to invite a conservative today.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts