Roots of Academic Bias

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

With everybody but college professors acknowledging the left-wing bias in academia, the next question becomes, when did it start? Well, it goes back at least a half a century.

“While teaching at Ohio State University in the 1960s, I had a bumper sticker that read, Bury Goldwater and was shunned by colleagues until one took a close look at it and said, ‘Ah, it says Bury Goldwater, we thought it said Barry Goldwater,’” author Alston Chase remembered. “Would you like to go to a party?,” the colleague asked Chase.

Despite the image of the 1960s as one in which left-wing student radicals battled buttoned-down administrators, the reality was that the decade saw the left fighting putative liberals who ran the colleges and universities. “The college presidents are coming along nicely!” read one internal memo from Lyndon Johnson’s White House sent in the heat of the 1964 presidential campaign.

Indeed they were. “There are no real critics, no new ideas, no fundamental differences of opinion,” Rutgers provost Richard Schlater claimed in the Partisan Review. Goldwater’s defeat showed that “we are all part of the American establishment,” according to Schlater.

The last two quotes were unearthed by Rick Perlstein, himself a man of the Left, in his book, Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. Perlstein also digs out some quotes from celebrated scholars such as Richard Hofstadter of Columbia who asked, “When in our history has anyone with ideas so bizarre, so archaic, so self-confounding, so remote from the basic American consensus, ever got so far?”

Hofstadter, who died in 1970, was the author of The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It, still, next to Howard Zinn’s, about the most widely used text in American schools.

Speaking of seminal texts, when Milton Friedman published Capitalism and Freedom in 1962, “some Keynesians successfully lobbied to have it purged from their universities’ libraries,” Perlstein reveals.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.

 

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