Monday, January 26, 2009

Diversity Anyone?

I was talking to an evangelical Christian colleague the other day (there are a few in hiding in academia). The conversation turned towards politics, and my approach to her was, "I assume you are somewhere on the left side of the political spectrum." Now why would I say something like that? We all know that evangelicals are robots who do whatever James Dobson tells them, right?

Not exactly. First, last time I checked evangelicals are far more politically diverse than say, academics. Second, academia is so predictable and boring that I never believe a professor or colleague believes anything other than standard left wing orthodoxy. No matter how conservative or classical liberal they may sound it is always best to assume an academic is a leftist democrat. The most conservative (voted for W in 2000) prof I ever personally knew was a Marxist. No kidding. A Marxist evangelical to be exact.

Guess what? My colleague voted for Obama. Big surprise. Beyond the complete lack of diversity here, we are talking about a serious problem. Like Al Gore's famous hockey stick graph the level of intellectual and political diversity has declined at roughly the same rate that our diversity in our broader culture has increased. The person on the street could be a Buddhist, environmental conservative cross stitcher. But the academic... well, you know everything about them before they open their mouth. This makes for a very boring Academy.

On a more serious level, it is the elephant in the room. It is the reason unqualified idiots like Ward Churchill become Department Chairs at major universities. The reason impossibly flawed and just plain wrong books like Bellesile's Arming America win major academic rewards. The reason dozens of profs at Duke can condemn the lacrosse team before the police have investigated. In short, it is destroying true intellectualism and scholarship.

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