Fear and Loathing at UNLV

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The experience of Larry Summers at Harvard University shows the penalties paid by academics who are factually accurate but politically incorrect, even when they are liberal Democrats. Imagine what would happen if they were libertarians.

You don’t have to dream long. Just look at the saga of Dr. Hans Hermann Hoppe[pictured]—a distinguished economist for two decades at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

A year ago, in his class on Money and Banking, Dr. Hoppe was impolitic enough, by today’s topsy-turvy standards, to point out that homosexuals lead risky lifestyles and tend not to save for the future, the latter a trait that they share with the very young and very old. Dr. Hoppe went on to point out that the homosexuality of government spending advocate John Maynard Keynes influenced his economic conclusions.

One student, Michael Knight, found Dr. Hoppe’s comments so objectionable that he complained to school administrators. The school then put Dr. Hoppe through a year of hearings that look like a modern dress version of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

Last month, Raymond W. Alden III, UNLV’s Vice President and Provost, wrote to Dr. Hoppe about the aforementioned student’s “grievance.” “Based on the above-referenced grievance, you are hearby instructed to cease mischaracterizing opinion as objective fact,” Alden wrote. The committee investigating the controversy, Alden reported to Dr. Hoppe, “recommended that you receive a letter of reprimand and loss of any merit pay attributable to this academic year.”

Alden and Knight may actually be guilty of the transgression that they charge Dr. Hoppe with. On their own web sites and in marketing surveys (Gay.com, Simmons Market Research Bureau), homosexuals brag, not about their thrift and savings, but about their spending. Their disposable income, which they estimate at $450 billion, makes them a favorite target of Madison Avenue marketers and contributors to Democratic politicians.

And what of Dr. Hoppe’s characterization of the economist whose theories dominated academia until their actual implementation proved them so thoroughly wrong? “Although he married and ostensibly lived heterosexually for the second half of his life, there is no doubt that homosexual life, together with its emotional and aesthetic sensibility, deeply shaped Keynes personality,” according to glbtq.com, an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture. “The creativity and daring of his intellectual life—particularly his ability to take unconventional stands and his skepticism towards widely-held illusions—were informed by his experience as a homosexual.”

By Dr. Hoppe’s estimate, his comments on homosexual savings and Dr. Keynes ate up about sixty seconds of a 75-minute lecture. Really, he should be admired for summarizing reams of data so succinctly.

What is always interesting is to see how colleges and universities handle pairs of complaints against professors when one is liberal and one is not. We have already ascertained that Dr. Hoppe is not a man of the Left. UNLV historian Eugene Moehring is another story.

When an older student brought a complaint against Dr. Moehring, UNLV dismissed it. A look at the complaint and at Dr. Moehring’s required books shows us that the university’s dismissal was only partially understandable.

While the student complained that the workload in Professor Moehring’s course was too great, that same collegiate pointed to a left-wing bias on the part of the professor. One of Dr. Moehring’s supporters reveals that two of the three books assigned by the historian were by Howard Zinn and Richard Hofstadter.

Zinn claims that unemployment grew during the Reagan years of historic job growth. Hofstadter offers up a 44-page chapter on Abraham Lincoln that never mentions the Gettysburg Address. Certainly a reading list dominated by these two cries out for more entries, preferably by historians who would know an historical document if it slapped them upside the head.

A personal note: To take Dr. Hoppe’s return call on my cell phone, I had to duck out of a seminar at the American Enterprise Institute. When I returned to the seminar, I got to hear Dr. Roger Bowen of the American Association of University Professors assure the audience that there is no problem of bias in higher education.

In the course of his talk, Dr. Bowen alleged that Accuracy in Academia had patrolled college classrooms nationwide in a vain attempt to unearth bias in college and university classrooms. Who is really patrolling college and university classrooms, Dr. Bowen?

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.