Comments about ‘In our opinion: University faculty members are leaning even further left, survey says’

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Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

This editorial ignores the reality that contemporary conservative political leaders have been racing towards positions that can best be described as authoritarian, anti-intellectual and theocratic.

Recall the GOP presidential candidates' frequent derisive comments about institutions of higher education earlier this year, and their universal rejection of global warming science, ignorance of basic human reproduction, and willingness to let public school science classes teach creationism.

If university faculty are indeed drifting to the left in their political views, you should consider the rapid rightward trend of today's GOP as reason for this change.

Far East USA, SC

It is just possible that the measuring stick is being moved.

What passed for Moderate Republican (REAGAN) is now considered LEFT by today's conservative definition.

Durham, NC

Its a kind of funny question to ask educators if they are liberal.... and it doesn't necessarily have to do with politics, but often is linked. The mindset in higher education is that the goal of education is to broaden and expand what is known, to challenge conventional wisdom, and seek out new things. If we didn't have those of this mindset, a lot of research wouldn't happen. You have to be one who asks "why" a lot to be a good researcher.

Conservatives on the other hand is tended to be one who follows what is traditional, maintaining what is known. Typically they send their efforts protecting and defending what is known. And there is a good place for these people in education as well.

A good liberal professor will challenge everything - even accepted liberal thought. They will challenge darwinism. They will challenge creationism. They will challenge relativism, and they will challenge tradition. But little of it has anything to do with government and social order - such as supporting socialism or communism. In my experience, that isn't the kind of "liberalism" they are referring to.

But is my experience, you milage may vary.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

There may be some truth to this. My professors had often had jobs (from menial to influential) in the real world before getting their PHDs and becoming professors (I think fewer do today). Also, many were of the WWII generation and had been to war. These may have made for a better balance. But academia has always been a bit more liberal for the reasons noted by UtahBlueDevil.

Beyond any real movement to the left (versus prior generations) I, like Blue and JoeBlow, wonder how much of this is how folks respond relative to the surrounding political environment. With the end of the Cold War we have seen a steady drift of conservatism. Ideas that were once unpalatable or just plain crazy are becoming mainstreamed as are their proponents (also once unpalatable or just plain crazy).

So, if you are what was once considered moderately liberal, you are now very liberal. If you are what was once called moderately conservative, maybe you are now a liberal. It would be interesting to see a poll of how the professors stand on major ideas rather than via self-descriptive terms. It might demonstrate less drift leftward than we imagine.

one old man
Ogden, UT

As the right has shifted even further toward the abyss, educated people tend to be able to think for themselves and not follow the herd of lemmings in that direction.

After all, isn't a "liberal" just someone who refuses to allow anyone to fool them?

American Fork, UT

I must echo the posts thus far. As blue pointed out the more, "authoritarian, anti-intellectual and theocratic" you become, the further left higher education will appear. A frightful time.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Well, we can apply to the Chiang Kai-Shek rule, or the Somoza rule, or the Ferdinand Marcos rule: if someone says they are the US's friend and they are for democracy doesn't mean that they are.

If some professor will not hire someone because they perceive that they have, what the professor views, a conservative viewpoint, the professor is not a liberal. The professor is a dogmatic, blindly following after some politically correct dogma like John Birchers in the Cold War.

I knew professors in college who I thought were liberal, who prided themselves in being liberal open-minded, but every so often some right-wing scary dogma statement would come out of their mouth and I would want to ask, "Hello? Where did that come from? Is there someone else in there?"

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

University faculty members are right where they always have been.

It's that millions of AM raido listeners [mainly NON-college educated folks] are being re-educated and dumbed down by the NON-College educated talk-show hosts that's causing all the moving.

red state pride
Cottonwood Heights, UT

What's the opposite of diversity? University. Especially when it comes to diversity of opinion.

Saint George, UT

All University faculty members should be approved initially and receive final accreditation from Glenn Beck University...

That should end the leaning left even further problem.

Thank you.

no fit in SG
St.George, Utah

Heaven forbid!
Someone has an opinion different than the loudest, brightest crimson political party in the United States?
As there seems to be less acceptance for free thinkers......
Fire them all!

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

"Ideas that were once unpalatable or just plain crazy are becoming mainstreamed as are their proponents (also once unpalatable or just plain crazy)."

Actually; that is how many people view the left.

Simply because the left has run full speed further left (embracing abortion on demand, redefining marriage, rationalizing affirmative action, etc) - does not mean the right has become more conservative. Indeed; the passive/aggressive propensity to blame others for the lefts own move towards radically altering society in the extreme, is precisely why many people end up on the right - default; lack of viable alternatives.

From some seats in the ball park - everything appears to be in right field. Today's illiberal left seems to be playing a completely different game in another stadium.

Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . conservative political leaders have been racing towards positions that can best be described as authoritarian, anti-intellectual and theocratic."

Yeah -- as opposed to the sprint by leftist academics, trade-unionists, and other affiliated radicals toward a rigid, sacrosanct, Taliban-like orthodoxy on climate change; abortion; tax-and-spend politics; radical, anti-American positions on environmentalism and Western land-use; pro-terrorist defense policies; radical restructuring of ownership of capital and private property; internationalism and the surrender of national sovereignty; and, in general, all things leftist and socialist -- but at twice the velocity, and over a much longer period.

Tooele, UT

Re: "A good liberal professor will challenge everything - even accepted liberal thought."

That must be why there are so few good liberal professors.

A professor who challenges liberal thought is most often shunned as a "denier," an "anti-intellectual," or a "reactionary." Any of those labels could result in a denial of tenure, even dismissal. Much easier to "go along to get along."

Since it would take courage to do so, very, very, very few academics are willing to challenge the rigid liberal orthodoxy that rules academe. Even if they don't partake of its mandatory sacraments, they're unlikely to openly challenge what passes for "thought" in the "vast apparatus of leftist groupthink."

salt lake, UT

right and of course your view are not influenced buy your far right positioning in the stands right? you are just a middle of the road moderate, right? Curious about which way we have shifted? look at the current make up of the supreme court and how many of the judges that where appointed by what at the time where considered conservative republican presidents that are know viewed as the liberals on the court. My friends (some not so liberal) from around the world are horrified at the hard right puritanical turn our country has taken. think I am kidding or just have really liberal friends over seas? one example in the recent news 67% of Germans (not known to lean hard left) and 85% of the people from France recently polled say they would vote for Obama.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Counter Intelligence,

I understand your point, but the left has embraced abortion on demand and affirmative action for decades, so no changes there. Yes, the redefinition of marriage is newer. On the other hand (if talking about Democrats rather than the left - and there is a distinction) they have become more fiscally conservative (witness Clinton and other Blue Dogs).

Also, I did not say the right has become more conservative. Rather it has become more enchanted with ideas once considered crazy. The left has their crazies as well. And both sides have become more strident. But I think from the point of view of the middle of the road voter, the changes on the right have been far starker.

Switching to a discussion of parties rather than political philosophies (and again noting that these are not precisely the same) I think the recent RINO issue showcased the problem were philosophical purity became an issue. Remember that the conservative bona fides of the two most recent Republican candidates were doubted by some. This never would have been so a decade or so ago. And there was no movement to shove any "DINOs" out of the Democratic Party.

Hank Pym

Hutterite & LDS Lib have hit the nail on the head.

@ procuradorfiscal

Leftist groupthink? I see someone has read 1984 recently.

I wonder what Orwell would say about repressed rightwing theocratic dogma?

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

As I always say I'm an Eisenhower Republican which, in today's political climate, makes me seem like a liberal. Definitions and positions change over time. Just one example: Most conservatives used to be isolationists, they wanted a small military that stayed in the U.S. unless we were directly attacked. That position doesn't sound conservative at all today, does it?

Mister J

in regards 2 LDS Liberal...

Bite your tongue Sir (or Madam), there is no way Pretty Boy Sean or Professor Beck is capable of that degree of cunning or Social Engineering. Dick Cheney & The Koch Brothers on the other hand....

Far East USA, SC

"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad, they would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party - and I don't - as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement,"

- Jeb Bush

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