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When & How Did Universities Become So Crazy Left?


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Power Line

Steven Haywad

Dec. 1 2023

I was fortunate yesterday to take in part of a two-day conference at AEI in Washington DC in honor of Princeton’s Prof. Robert P. George (Robbie to his friends, but still “Professor George” to me and most other mortals), and in particular a retrospective of his early book published thirty years ago, before he had achieved tenure in Princeton’s political science department, entitled * Making Men Moral. It set out a strong case against the emasculating effects of modern liberal relativism, and its critique remains more relevant today in light of a number of trends, well illustrated yesterday by some excellent presentations on recent social science data from Mark Regnerus, Brad Wilcox, and Ian Rowe, among others. But Robbie’s book was politically incorrect then, and even more so now. As one panelist remarked, “If Robbie is ever up for canonization in the Catholic Church, earning tenure at Princeton after this book was published will be acknowledged as his first miracle.”

I’ll skip over the highlights of the proceedings, which would be of interest mostly and only to academics, except for one point that prompts a further chain of reflection on a question that is rarely discussed in depth these days, namely: Colleges and universities have always been left of center, and conservatives have been complaining about this since at least the 1930s. Or just think of William F. Buckley’s first book, on this exact problem, God and Man at Yale (1952), or my mentor Stan Evans’s first book, Revolt on the Campus (1960).

(Snip)

There are lots of reasons for this, and no one single reason. Most everyone likes to talk about the 1960s, “America’s cultural revolution,” and this is of course true. But on closer look I think we can make out more specifically one of the greatest examples of the law of unintended consequences from a well-meaning social policy: the student draft-deferment system of the 1960s. Thousands of young men who might not otherwise have gone to, or remained in college, did so to avoid the draft, and many thousands of them continued into graduate school to continue avoiding the draft, and newly radicalized departments, especially sociology, expanded to absorb the draft-dodgers. (This was also the beginning of grade inflation and dumbing down the curriculum, as sympathetic professors wanted to make sure students kept their academic standing clear. The grading system, a popular account had it, was revised: A—excellent; B—good; C—average; D—below average; V—Vietnam.) And after getting a fill of new leftism, this draft-dodging cohort shaped the new generation of the left professoriate that has been replicating itself ever since. Thus, more than 50 years since the draft ended, the draft-deferment system may be the largest single cause of the extreme campus leftism we have today.

Nice going liberals.

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I’ll skip over the highlights of the proceedings, which would be of interest mostly and only to academics,

Even I who being a Big Fan of long form videos (I really need A Life) think 12 hours is a bit much. But if that floats your boat...have fun.

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