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April 21, 2021

Professor says the problem with academia today is "too many conservatives." But here's the real punch line: He makes a point, just not the one he intended.

Everyone had quite a bit of fun with this earlier in the week.

That's ridiculous, right?

Why, everyone knows academia skews left. Way left.

Campus Reform contacted Siddique about this claim. When presented with a study published by the National Association of Scholars showing that college professors donate to Democrats ninety-five times more than to Republicans, Siddique insisted this was not relevant.

Not relevant?  I know what you want to do. You want to type up a witty retort, quite possibly in all caps so as to be more persuasive, but hold on to that thought for a moment.

Campus Reform has reported on hundreds of business school professors who endorsed President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election.

Joe Biden?  Why that's clear evidence THAT THEY ARE JUST A BUNCH OF...

Put down the Mountain Dew and step away from the keyboard for a moment.

Nicole Neily, President of Speech First, criticized Siddique for his factually "incorrect" premise, citing a study showing that university administrators, on average, lean more left than their professors.

"Factually" incorrect is the worst kind of incorrect, because, you know, facts.

And it wasn't just Nicole Neily jumping on the Fact Express to truth and justice, it was Samual Abrams, too, whoever he is.

"Dr. Siddique's factual premise is incorrect; Sarah Lawrence professor Samuel Abrams the ideological composition of university administrators several years ago, and found that they actually lean farther left than even university professors," Neily told Campus Reform.

Akshually...

They can lean all they want, leaning is easy. Leaning is free.

You know what's not free?  Acting.  Acting can cost you.  Money, standing, privilege.

So, instead, they lean, and if they lean hard enough, maybe no one will notice they aren't doing anything, at least nothing that affects them directly.

Siddique noticed, and said something.  Sure, he has a cartoonish view of conservatism, and completely missed the larger point, but he's just falling into the same trap as the rest of us too often do.

There is a difference between preaching and acting, between virtue signalling and living with real-life consequences.

Let's put it this way, John Kerry travels in a private jet the better to lecture the rest of us about the sacrifices we must all make for the sake of the environment. Nancy Pelosi and Lori Lightfoot go to salons so they may be more presentable when they explain to the rest of us why it doesn't much matter whether we are presentable or not, and university administrators sing from the woke hymnal as much as necessary, but have no intention of putting any of it into practice in a manner that would interfere with their own wealth and comfort.

More to the point, it has nothing to do with ideology, principle or fundamental belief systems. Those things may be important to us, but they are just useful distractions to those in power.

Here's Siddique's original tweet.

The problem with academia today is that it has too many conservatives. They run the university. They sit in admin & on university boards enforcing manufactured austerity, combating unionization, & casualizing most of the professoriate.

Let's take a look at these one by one, from Siddique's point of view:

"Enforcing manufactured austerity."

Harvard has an endowment a little shy of $40 billion, Yale around $30 billion, Stanford and Princeton around $25 billion.

Even Siddique's own University of Massachusetts has an endowment a little short of $1 billion and an annual budget of $3.4 billion.

Why all the money? Why is Harvard "hoarding" nearly $40 billion? Think of all the social justice work they could do, if they really meant it. Instead, they talk about it, preening away, and "speaking out" against injustice.

Anything to keep the rubes busy.

"Combating unionization."

They typically fight it tooth and nail, where they can, particularly the richest and most woke of the private universities whose resistance to the unionization of their grad students has earned its own Wikipedia entry.

Oh, they totally believe in unions.  Elsewhere.

"Casualizing the professoriate."

Yes, "casualize" is a real thing.

If a business casualizes its employees or casualizes their labour, it replaces employees with permanent contracts and full rights with employees with temporary contracts and few rights.

It's tough to unionize contract workers.

This is a big issue in higher academic circles.

In the past, critics like myself and others were urged not to fret about the adjunctification, or "casualization," of academic labor. Again and again, jowly college presidents, rear admirals of learned societies bearing epaulets, line managers at elite doctoral mills, and assorted free-market types in bow ties, assured us that the institution of tenure was doing just swell. When it came to the growing ranks of nontenured, they spoke of "redundancies," "strategic redeployment of resources," and riffed about the need to be "nimble" in response to "shifting market demand." In many ways, these thought leaders were the brainy forebears of our current epistemological moment — a moment in which citizens are implored to ignore relevant data and their own engagement with empirical reality. Everything is perfect.

That things were nowhere near perfect in our vocation was as clear 10 years ago as is the desolate street outside your window today.

But as long as they contributed to Joe Biden, it's all good, right?

Back to Siddique for a moment.

Those who think that the ideological character of the university can be discerned by the political leanings of its faculty betray a fundamental misunderstanding of how institutions work. You have to look at management, not labor.

He has a point, but even that doesn't fully apply here. The faculty is in on it, too, at least the upper echelons, which they will do anything to preserve. Quoting Salazar again.

It cannot be denied that the apathy of tenured professors to the plight of their nontenured colleagues is a failure of common decency and professional solidarity (about which, more anon). But it pales in comparison to the dereliction of duty of our administrative overseers. It is they who made more or less all of the decisions just mentioned. Once those decisions were put into play, all that remained was for the present Covid-19 crisis to accelerate our free fall to the bottom.

When your self-interest conflicts with your ideals guess which wins out?

Siddique appears sincere in his beliefs, and when interviewed by Campus Reform above was invariably polite and seemed open to some intellectual give and take.

But both he and Campus Reform missed the real story. When all is said and done, when you drill down to the motivations of those with control, this has nothing to do with liberal vs. conservative values, or "right" vs. "left." It never does.

It's about power, seizing it, and more importantly, keeping it.

The top two people at Harvard are white men.

Harvard president

Same thing at Yale.

Yale president

Why don't they resign and make room for a BIPOC? They're perfectly happy denying your kid admission, particularly if he or she is Asian, in favor of furthering "diversity," so why don't they live what they preach?

Harvard has no Hispanic deans. None. Why not move out a couple more white guys? They've got plenty to spare! Why are the two Asian deans from a single country, India? How does that reflect the student body?

College administrators can pave their grassy country estates with BLM signs, they can support the Biden campaign and adopt 47 pronouns for describing their students, but it's all for the singular purpose of preserving their own wealth, comfort, and power.

That's what we're not supposed to notice while we scramble about screaming "hypocrisy!" and fighting ideological battles that they consider not timeless values but merely mechanisms, tools to be used for their own benefit. 

They know it's hypocrisy.

The don't care.

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April 21, 2021 at 06:24 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

Comments

Higher education has been a toxic cesspool for a while now. How long before it becomes nothing more than a really bad joke?

Posted by: bluebird of bitterness | Apr 22, 2021 4:53:31 PM

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