Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Krugman on Academic Freedom

For my money, the most interesting public conversation in America right now isn't the "culture of life" debate or the Social Security debacle, but the still largely hidden argument about political attitudes in higher education. Led by the ex-Marxist David Horowitz, and utilizing his entirely spurious "Academic Bill of Rights" as the main tool, conservatives are arguing all around the country that colleges and universities are bastions of liberalism and radicalism which must be opened up to "mainstream" thinking - that is, Bushian "conservatism."

It's all rubbish, of course, and few make that point better than Paul Krugman in today's column in the Times: "Today's Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn't be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party. Conservatives should be worried by the alienation of the universities; they should at least wonder if some of the fault lies not in the professors, but in themselves. Instead, they're seeking a Lysenkoist solution that would have politics determine courses' content."

In this, as in so many other areas - reproductive rights, women's freedom, respect for martial power over all else - the Republican ironically begin to sound much like their sworn enemies, the mullahs and sheikhs. There, I think, is the hook on which some enterprising scholar will hang a history or poli-sci dissertation in 2035.


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