The Other Charlotte and I both blogged yesterday on academia’s baffled (but overwhelmingly negative) response to I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe’s new novel about hooking up and other facets of coed life on a fictional Ivy League campus.
“The intellectuals don’t get why their candidate John ’Hari’ Kerry tanked so badly a week ago at the ballot boxes. And now come the same bunch of smarter-than-thou folks who don’t get why Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons, his 676-page new novel about college life, is now No. 2 on the Amazon best-seller list.
“The reviewers, many of whom hail from the groves of academe that Wolfe satirizes, are nearly uniformly holding up their noses at the book–because its theme is the undergraduate ’hooking up’ culture of rampant, drink-addled casual sex, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make fun of that….”
Now there is a new study from The Chronicle of Higher Education that shows (once again) just how out of touch academia is. “The public has now picked up the message that ’campuses are havens for left-leaning activists,’ according to a Chronicle poll of 1,000 adult Americans this year,” an article by Mark Bauerlein, a conservative who somehow managed to get on the English faculty at Emory University, in the magazine reports.
You can look at the figures for yourselves, but the question is why is this the case? Why are there so few conservatives on college campuses?
“The obvious answer, at least in the humanities and social sciences, is that academics shun conservative values and traditions, so their curricula and hiring practices discourage non-leftists from pursuing academic careers. What allows them to do that, while at the same time they deny it, is that the bias takes a subtle form. Although I’ve met several conservative intellectuals in the last year who would love an academic post but have given up after years of trying, outright blackballing is rare. The disparate outcome emerges through an indirect filtering process that runs from graduate school to tenure and beyond.”
According to the article, the “Common Assumption” in the faculty lounge is that sharing the same political views is simply a fact of professional life. When a postdoc refers to Thanksgiving as “American Genocide Day,” it is safe to assume that everybody in the lounge agrees.
I suppose intellectuals began going solidly left about the time of Voltaire, and they inspired members of the less intellectual branches of society (Madame de Pompadour, who had nothing to gain from revolution, was a major supporter of lefty philosophes!) to embrace this. Being a lefty was a badge indicating that one was a thinking person–or a person who thought he/she was a thinking person. Now, of course, it is exactly the opposite.