In today’s New York Times Book Review, Alan Wolfe reviews What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts, a book by Penn State professor Michael Berube. Berube attacks conservatives activist David Horowitz, who for years has attempted to address the leftward bias of elite universities.
Yet while reviewer Wolfe writes that Berube does not make a coherent case against Horowtiz, he then shifts gears, collapsing into full leftist rhetoric mode and subverting the very points he made earlier in his piece. It’s a whiplash performance that can leave the head spinning like a Coney Island ride.
“Left-wing domination of academia is so obvious a fact that Berube never tries to deny it,” Wolfe writes. Instead, Berube claims that there just aren’t enough conservatives to hire. Bunk, says Wolfe. Further, writes Wolfe, Berube pointing to the “diversity” between left-liberals and poststructuralists Marxists isn’t exactly an advertisement for a comprehensive and diverse education.
But then the bottom falls out. The real reason conservatives hate academia - aside from its contribution to the debasing of culture - is that “universities work remarkably well.” They create jobs and don’t lay off people as often as the private sector. Then comes the coda from Wolfe: “They even do a good job educating students.”
Hugh? Let me see if I get this straight. Berube admits that universities are liberal reeducation camps; furthermore, when he does offer a defense, Wolfe pounces, writing that it “hardly addresses the widespread perception that [university courses in] cultural anthropology [have] little room for those who might believe that America’s presence in a third-world country might bring about some good.”
Yet despite this, the kids are getting a good education. Conservatives, Wolfe concludes, “attack universities because they prove that the liberal idea of open-minded inquiry can be so powerful.”
Stop the ride. I’m getting dizzy. So Wolfe - and Berube - out and out admit that open-minded inquiry doesn’t exist at elite - and other - American universities. But those conservatives like David Horowitz, while irrefutable in their arguments, still get it wrong, because universities are places of the liberal idea of open-minded inquiry. An inquiry that by the admission of Wolfe and Berube does not exist.
Alan Wolfe may want to consult with himself before taking on this subject again. I need some dramamine.
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