Talbott: Hey, Don't They Oppose the Quota? · 08 September 2003

Filed under: Press Coverage

Clint Talbott--The Daily Camera, 09/09/03

To hear David Horowitz tell it, liberal college professors have a vast, left-wing conspiracy that keeps conservatives off of campus faculties. He says liberals have the "most successful and effective blacklist in American history."

You expect that kind of rhetorical excess from Horowitz, an erstwhile leftist who mutated into a nationally recognized right-wing pundit. But you don't expect Colorado politicians to write Horowitz's musings into law. This weekend's headlines were, therefore, astonishing.

In June, some Republican state legislators in Colorado met with Horowitz, who is urging colleges and universities nationwide to submit to his "academic bill of rights," which aims to increase the number of conservatives on faculties. Some state lawmakers like Horowitz's idea.

Colorado Senate President John Andrews, who met with Horowitz, hopes to impose the "bill of rights" on state colleges and universities, possibly via law. "I do agree with David Horowitz when he says that the longest-lasting and most brutally effective blacklist in American history has been that which has excluded conservative thought and voices more and more from American campuses since the '60s," Andrews told the Rocky Mountain News.

Well, senator, "blacklist" is a pretty tough talk. Why not back it up with some facts? You can start by producing a list of academics who couldn't get hired or promoted because of their political views. If there's credible evidence of such a widespread bias, the Horowitz clique ought to reveal it.
What gets discussed, in the absence of better data, is professors' voting records. The faculty who teach political science in state colleges and universities along the Front Range are overwhelmingly Democratic - by a margin of 6-1. At the University of Colorado, criticism of this partisan disparity has been lodged since the time of Truman.

CU students, meanwhile, wear different political stripes. In campus precincts, county records show, unaffiliated voters compose 41 percent of the electorate, while Democrats make up 37 percent and Republicans compose 21 percent. If party affiliation is a guide, then, CU students are less conservative than the state but more conservative than the city or professors in the liberal arts.

The cure for this imbalance, we are told, is the "academic bill of rights," which is proposed by Horowitz and a national group called Students for Academic Freedom. Their proposal includes the stipulation that professors should be hired, fired and promoted on the basis of merit.
Well, duh. CU policy already makes this requirement.

But the "academic bill of rights" goes further, suggesting that professors in the humanities, social sciences and arts be hired and promoted "with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives." That sounds a bit like affirmative action.

So which is it going to be: Shall we, in classic conservative fashion, hire professors on their scholastic merits alone? Or shall we dilute the hiring process with an ideological litmus test? The left-wing conspirators would really like to know.

Reach Clint Talbott at (303) 473-1367 or talbottc@dailycamera.com.